WolfQuest Returns to Yellowstone: Slough Creek

So we've come back to Slough Creek formore on the ground investigation and research for the new map– the newexpanded map – of the Slough Creek area for WolfQuest: Anniversary Edition.

Behind me, you can see Little Butte which is where you spawn in the old game.

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and we're not going up there today.

We went up there last time –spectacularviews of the whole meadow! But this time we're going to be heading up to valley, up Slough Creek watershed and looking for some new stuff.

That's going to be .

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not inthe old game .

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but in the new expanded map in the new game.

The whole place is muchgreener than it was when we were here before.

Last time our visit was in lateSeptember when everything is really browned up.

Now it's late August and it'sbeen a very wet summer so this is actually a much greener environment thanit would normally be at this time of year.

But that's helpful for us becauseit looks closer to what looks like in the springtime when wolves are raisingtheir pups.

I'm not too happy about this grass! It is so dense and so tall.

Tallgrass like this is tough for computers to render and even if your computer canrender it it's pretty annoying to have to run through as a wolf.

One of the newanimals that you'll see in Slough Creek is beavers.

And here is a beaver lodge.

This is fresh mud.

Thebeavers bring up mud in their little hands and pat it down and stuff.

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And so this isstill damp.

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so I think they're still living here.

And if you look down inthere you can actually see the underwater entrance that they've builtto get into their lodge.

As we hike back at the end of the day we saw severalbeaver swimming around just outside their lodge.

Beavers are going to be a fun addition to Slough Creek and Anniversary Edition.

They're not a big food source for wolves in Yellowstone.

In fact, it is not evenreally positively known that wolves even eat beavers in Yellowstone but they doin northern Minnesota – that's very well documented – so it is plausible .

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and they won't be a big food source but it'll be a different huntingchallenge.

We're here to see the place again with our own eyes to take hundredsof photographs that we can use as reference as we're working on the 3denvironment of Slough Creek.

We're also meeting with one of our science advisoris Dr.

Dan Stahler who's a wolf biologist here in Yellowstoneand is going to answer lots and lots of our questions about wolves andespecially a wolf pups.

So we're heading up into Aspen Heights.

We did place aden there in the game but today I'm more interested in what's just on the otherside of that ridge there .

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so let's go see.

And here it is! It's a lake! Who knew there was a lakeback here just over the slope from Aspen Heights den? So this is McBride Lake.

Alittle jewel here.

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set amongst the granite rocks above and around Slough Creek.

It's also coincidentally at about2, 000 meters elevation.

Which I can tell on my little uh.

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altimeter app, onmy phone.

And what's interesting about that is that wolves, when they're lookingfor a place to make their den in the winter, they look for sites that arebetween about 2, 000 meters and 2300 meters elevation.

so we're going to headup into the hills here above McBride Lake and see if we can find any good densites.

So right here on the shores of McBride Lake, we have this big old rockand a little crevice underneath.

Not a lot of room right there now but it's a dirtfloor and a wolf could easily dig it out and use this as a starting point for anice cozy den.

Another thing that makes a good den location is access to water.

SoLake McBride is an appealing location but there are a lot of little creeksflowing down the slopes into Slough Creek in the springtime.

So, plenty ofopportunities! What else do wolves look for it in a densite? For one thing, they want a nice, sunny.

south-facing slope.

When the pups are born, in mid April, it's really still winter up here in Yellowstone so they want tocatch as much of that warm spring sunshine as they can, to melt the snowand give the pups a warm place to hang out in the first weeks of life.

On slopeslike, this wolves often look for old dens abandoned by other animals like foxesand coyotes .

They use these as a starting point and dig them ou –enlarge them– tomake them big enough for their own pups.

And, of course, if they've already got anice cozy den established on a nice south-facing slope, they'll often returnto that, year after year.

Some people wonder why the logs in the game aren'tobstacles.

You can just go right through them.

But do you really want to be doingthis when you're chasing an elk at 30 miles an hour? Another popular den site is under thespreading roots of an old tree.

This one is not a den yet.

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but you can seethe potential.

If you're wolf, you might look for a nice den site here under a jumbleof rock somewhere.

This is pretty rough! But uh.

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there might be a good spot up here , if you look hard.

So we'reputting on all these types of dens in the Slough Creek map.

Though some digging may be required.

Of course everyone also wants to go inside their den.

That getsa little tricky but.

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but we'll see.

So there's many different kinds ofplaces that a wolf might find or make for a den site.

But the important thingto remember is that they only live in their den for about two months, while thepups are very young, and then they head out! They abandon the den and might journey to a rendezvous site up in the highlands.

They might just slowly expand theirterritory.

But they're basically, at that point, following the elk herds.

They don'tneed the den anymore because as Dave Mech says, the wolf's body is itsshelter.

And, after two months, the pups are big enough and strong enough to move with the pack as it searches for prey.

And now we come to the creek again.

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Slough Creek again.

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and all new creek crossings.

So there'll be lots of new places to checkout but the wise wolf crosses first, without their pups, to make sure it's nottoo deep.

Okay! Bring the pups! There's an old bisonbull dozing there across the creek.

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and we have to get that-away to get back tothe main trail .

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to head back to the trailhead.

And you're supposed to keepyour distance from bison bulls because they've got an Attitude.

So, we're gonnahave to sneak around, keep our distance, keep as far away as we can.

If we disturb him.

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if we piss him off.

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I don't know.

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the mobile version of WolfQuest maynever be finished.

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I don't think he cares about us.

Dude, have some dignity! And we've made it to Second Meadow! A few miles upstream from First Meadow (the part of Slough Creek that we all know and love from the game).

Youknow, I love the Amethyst map .

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and the Lamar Valley, but there's justsomething about Slough Creek! It's .

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it's still got that feeling of Yellowstonevastness but because the creek cuts through the whole long valley, it justgives it this intimacy that is really special.

And we're really excited tobring a bigger and better version of Slough Creek to the game.

So today we'vereturned to Slough Creek, hiked across First Meadow up to Lake McBride, lookedaround the hills above that for possible wolf den sites.

Crossed the creek again.

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and we've got the Second Meadow of Slough Creek.

So, we've had a fabulous dayhiking here and learned a lot about what the place looks like.

But we still – evenafter this full day here– we've only seen.

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maybe.

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not even a quarter of the map – of the new Slough Creek map in WolfQuest: Anniversary Edition.

So there's lots more that will be in the game that we haven't even seen here.

And now we haveto head back to the trailhead, head back to work.

and make that map as close as we can to be as beautiful as the real place.

All right, well that hike was two monthsago now.

So do you want to see how the Slough Creek map has come along? Still a work in progress but it's coming along!.

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