Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chunky the Fat Black Bear

First a quick note about the "E-mail Button" I had posted on the right side of this blog. I finally realized it doesn't work! I've removed it. If you would like to contact me, go to my 'profile' where I have posted a hotmail address. I've been warned I might regret posting an e-mail address so this one may dissapear too. For those of you who have my private e-mail address, please continue to use that. I check it more regularily.

Now that the holidays are over I hope to finish up with my Yellowstone posts. It is pouring rain ourside here. A good time of year to focus on the wonderful happenings in Yellowstone.

The events took place May 20 of this year. We headed into the park early. The day didn’t start well. Grizzlies had been seen on a winter killed bison at Blacktail Ponds the day before. We passed the ponds about 6:45 AM. All available space and then some was taken up by parked cars. One coyote on the carcass and thousands of dollars of equipment pointed at him.

Floating Island Lake wasn’t any better. A bull moose was feeding in the shallow water. No parking there either. We continued on up to Tower Falls hoping to see the great grey owl that was seen recently. No owl.

Back at Tower Junction three bison bulls caught our eye …. And the cowbirds accompanying them. The cowbirds forage right underfoot, taking advantage of the bugs the bison kick up as they graze.

By now the clouds were beginning to thicken. Good weather for the great grey to come out to hunt. They are more diurnal than a lot of owls. We head back up towards Tower Falls. This time we run into Chunky, the black bear.

Such a fat bear ! Most bears come out of hibernation with plenty of fur, but look rather scrawny underneath. This guy is downright chubby, and working at getting chubbier. He grazes on peeks of new grass near Rainy Lake.

Chunky ambles around the south end of the small lake and up into the lodgepoles. All that hair must be itchy. First he scratches his shoulder on a lodgegpole and then he walks over to another. Chunky stands and gives his back a good rub. AH-h-h-h, that feels good!

Chunky walks down to the edge of Rainy Lake for a drink. He faces us now – a nice full face. I suspect Chunky is a boar.

And then into the lake! He walks right out to swimming depth, keeping his head and a small bit of shoulders dry. Round and round he splashes. Chunky thoroughly soaks his heavy pelt. He shakes when he is half way out and once again when he is on dry land. Gallons of water fly into the air.

Once out of the lake, the bear ambles on to a patch of light colored bare ground. I hadn’t noticed it before, but there is a depression, a bear-sized depression. He rolls about in the coarse dirt and gets himself thoroughly grungy. Once well dirtied, he shakes again, ridding himself of most of the dirt.

Then he walks over to a little, three foot tall lodgepole. Time to wash his face. He almost demolished the little tree in the process. Finally done with his beauty treatment, Chunky continues on his way. He walks up the nearby slope and disappears over the rise.

It is only 8:30AM and already we have had a wonderful day.


  1. I smiled when I read "beauty treatment". Ha I will never look at pictures of women getting a mud pack the same way again. Love your sketches. When you go to your favorite park so often don't you feel like others are invading your space.? Of course we don't have such a large National park to call our own but that is the way I feel when in spring through summer people acutally come to the park that we frequent year round. Ha...

  2. Loved reading about your adventure and the sketches of Chunky! I wonder what he was like before hibernation?

  3. Enchanting tale, Elva!

    When we went to Alaska and visited Denali, there was a mother and cub Grizzly that happened across our path (or we across theirs). Apparently, Momma was feeling itchy and stood up on her hind legs and leaned into a lodgepole to take care of business. Baby watched and then went over to another small tree to do the same. Try as it might, it couldn't quite figure out the standing up thing, so it settled for scratching its neck with nearly a perfect parody of Momma's movements! So, so cool to witness!

    Thanks for reminding me of the memory!

  4. Dear Elva,
    Lovely sketches and the interesting post that reminds me of Seton. When I was at primary school, I was a big fan and read through his works and looked at illustrations... Thank you for sharing your wonderful work.
    Kind regards, Sadami