The owner of the campground told us where to find some moose and elk. The best time to see them is very early in the morning, so we woke up long before dawn and headed up into the Bighorn National Forest toward Burgess Junction from where we are staying in Greybull. The skies began to lighten as we headed up the mountain, so we could begin to see this was an amazing scenic drive.
We encountered our first moose as we neared the top. The moose was hanging around with some mule deer. The sun had still not come up. We drove further and saw four moose off the side of the road in a typical habitat for moose. There was a forested area behind the moose and they were lying next to a stream with lots of vegetation. There could have been more moose because they would have been well hidden by the vegetation but we counted by how many ears we could see sticking up.
We waited there as the sun rose to try to get some pictures and watch them. As the sun rose, they began to head into the forest. As one of the moose rose, we saw that it was badly injured. It had a broken leg and the leg dangled from the knee down. (Later I attempted to contact Wyoming Fish and Game and their phone number for reporting injured wildlife was not working so I found another number where I left a message. I will try one of their offices on Monday when they open.)
We drove further and I saw two male moose playing together. By the time we stopped and got the cameras ready, they had stopped playing but still hung around each other for a while. We watched them until they moved off and we couldn’t see them anymore.
We saw lots of deer on the ride up, but we encountered a small herd on the way down with several males and females. I pointed out to Regis that a few of the deer appeared to have very pink ears. When I started going through the photos, I noticed that several of the deer appeared to have some health issues. When I call Wyoming Fish and Game on Monday, I will let them know about the deer. I saw online that some of the ungulates can get a wasting disease, but the symptoms described don’t address what I saw in the photos.
We were able to stop several times on the way down to enjoy the scenery. We drove through the Canyon that Shell Creek has been carving out of the earth. The scenery was spectacular.
On the way back to the campsite, we stopped to see some dinosaur tracks and wound up heading off on another adventure. I’ll put that in the next post.