animal populations on Blue Mountain

Montana Grizzly or Black Bear?

    Deer Diary:

mule deer small

      “Did I just see a Montana Grizzly or was that a Black Bear?” 








This weekend has proven to be quite the bear sightseeing tour!  Be happy that’s not bare (as in the latest Missoula bike festival- don’t ask)!
If you are coming to Missoula, Montana for some wildlife viewing, the best place to see a grizzly is in the Washington-Grizzly Stadium during a home game.  Missoulians are pretty proud of their football team.  Outside of the stadium, however, some people aren’t as wild about the re-introduction of the Grizzly.  That’s a whole new topic and a story for later on.

Few, if any,  grizzly bears are seen in the Missoula/Lolo area and thankfully, we’ve never personally run into one while exploring the woods.  However, if you happen to visit Glacier DO REMEMBER that grizzly bears go hiking too!  The probability of running into a bear of any kind in Montana is much less than meeting an angry person which means the statistics of bear run-ins are pretty low.   In reality, Missoula doesn’t harbor many angry people, there are too many things to do and enjoy here!


DSCF2898smallNow if you dig a bit deeper, Montana history is full of interesting stories where men and women clash over many issues.  Our own road “Deadman Gulch” actually earned its name years ago from an argument over water rights that obviously didn’t go so well for one individual.  Montana does have an interesting history of stage coach robberies, vigilante hangings and even moon shine “wars” right here in the Missoula area.  There have even been a few pretty crazy individuals to roam modern Montana as well.  Overall, those are just headlines that sell books and our “wild west image.”  In truth, Montana has good-hearted people and is known for being one of the friendliest places in the U.S. to visit or live.  We have many guests who comment on how welcome they feel upon their arrival here in Big Sky CountryFriendliness, Fun and Fuzzy Creatures are top reasons to come for a visit!

And yet, I digress…Bitterroot valley pics 10-21-05 118  Let’s get back to bears in the stadium and woods.

Brady and I don’t often see football games in person.  For us, the busiest time of the workweek consists of Friday, Saturday and Sunday- when guests are exploring the town.  What we love about innkeeping  is the ability to live vicariously through our guests who come to enjoy games, concerts and hiking trails!  Since Blue Mountain is literally part of our backyard, we almost always have time to enjoy nature.

Today was one of those glorious, autumn afternoons.  The temperature was perfect and I was sure I heard John Denver singing “Sunshine on my shoulders…”  For me, having the ability to instantly get out and enjoy nature is as rewarding as life gets.   Probably the thing I like most about fall days is you never know who else might be out enjoying a stroll.

Deer try to camouflage themselves in the long, golden grass, while hawks often circle above.  We’ve seen darling foxes creeping through the thickets and the last of the fuzzy caterpillars munching leaves as fast as possible.  All of these amazing creatures of the forest know that Jack Frost will soon come knocking at the “door.”  Now is the time to store food and take in the last rays of sun!

cathy's visit 8-04 063 small crop caterpillar


IMG_0449 small crop





Here on Blue Mountain, fall is a magical time to enjoy the slow changing of the seasons.  Birds begin to migrate and summer fawns lose their spots, growing into adulthood.  I often think about the hidden forest secrets I’ve not yet discovered and wonder how many eyes are watching me as I casually walk through the forest.  For me, such mysteries are comforting-  I am but one tiny piece in a vast wilderness of wildlife.

Once in awhile, I think there just might be a chance that I’ve spotted something wild and wooly without being detected.  I’d like to think so, because I wish to leave as light a footprint as possibly along the path I choose to walk.

Today gave us one of the rarest of magical moments as we neared the end of our forest journey.  Just above the road, we watched a healthy black bear yearling cub climb the hill and then disappear from view.  In football terms, my guess is he was just about on the ten yard line.  It was a fairly close encounter, but certainly not a worrisome one.  As the laziness of an autumn day allows, he slowly ambled up the hillside.  The bear’s thoughts seemed to be elsewhere- likely focused on filling his belly with the the last of this summer’s berries.  Not so unlike one of our autumn tasks- packing away delicious preserves in our storeroom for guests.  Indeed, it is time once again to prepare for Old Man Winter’s return!

Whether you are a local or from out of town, we hope you find the time to explore Blue Mountain on your own.  We always welcome you to stay with us here at the B&B while you enjoy the views and wildlife, our home made berry preserves and hospitality.  We, and the mountain are awaiting your visit!

It´s a Bear!


Missoula’s Blue Mountain B&B: “Deer” Diary #1

August 1, 2013

“Deer” Diary,                    more photos 9-26-05 042 small

This is the first of my entries about the activities here at Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast.  I’m a spectator of sorts (or maybe that should be of SNORTS).  A lot goes on under my watchful eye on this beautiful mountain and I must say the two leggeds and their furry entourage are most entertaining at times!

I am just one of the many deer that frequently camp out just above the bed and breakfast.  There are some tasty plants here and sometimes we get through the gate to browse in the garden.  A few acres out of the twenty is supposed to be all fenced off, but we’ve lucked out for a while now.  It’s pretty nice that the bed and breakfast is a certified wildlife habitat because it means there is plenty of food, water and shelter for lots of living things to enjoy- me included!  When you count all of the land behind the bed and breakfast, including the Blue Mountain
Recreation area and Lolo National Forest, it makes up one of  the largest wilderness and forested territories in the West!  I’m glad I was born on this mountain, that’s for sure.

Depending on the time of year or even the time of day, you may catch a glimpse of one of us.  In the early spring, the two leggeds often see us casually munching on the hillside right above the inn.  If you happen to spot one of us on the hill, use a few clues so that you can figure out whether you are looking at a white tail or a  mule deer.  I won’t give away who I am, because it’s more fun to let you figure that our for yourself!  I do know that until a couple of years ago, it was rare for a person to see any mule deer in the area.  Sometimes our elk relatives come through the property as well, but they haven’t been seen for a while now.  I have heard bad news that many white tail have died off in parts of north eastern Montana because of a hemorrhagic disease that is transmitted by biting midges.  All of us wild ungulates (hoofed mammals) are susceptible, but it has hit the white tail the hardest.  I stay hopeful in thinking that we will escape this die-off that some scientists believe has increased because of wet spring conditions in certain areas.  The guests at Blue Mountain will be happy to note that this is not a transmittable disease from deer to humans and it doesn’t seem to greatly effect domesticated ungulates such as horses and cattle.Poppies near lodge

August has somehow crept upon us, which means the days are often in the 80’s or even 90’s, but the nights are cooling off.  The hillsides have dried out, but the golden hew of the native grasses look as lovely as the mid-day sun.  In the heat of summer, we have retreated a bit so it’s hard to catch a glimpse of us.  So far, we’ve kept the whereabouts of our fawns secret all season!

A few changes have taken place over the last few weeks:                   Morningside Red-Tailed Fledgling

*The fledgling red tailed hawks have begun to mature since we hear fewer of their juvenile cries.  Their presence is something the two leggeds look forward to every year!

IMG_0498 small*The honeysuckle flowers that had died back are now preparing for their final fall finale.  Varieties of daisies, poppies and lilies have put on quite a show and the glorious white hydrangea near the waterfall beckons people to relax and listen to nature’s music in the shade.       

Western TanagerLonicera ciliosa bloom

*The cherry trees have ripened and gone- Mrs. Robin lived up to her name again, robin’ all of the stores.  Each year she carries away most of the cherries and the moss from the waterfall, but the hidden nests found later when the trees have lost their leaves make it all worth while.  In addition to the robins, several elusive Western Tanagers were seen in the pine and fruit trees this year, a real treat for the guests who visit the bed and breakfast.  As for us, we wait for the apple crop to mature and hope that the gate will not yet be fixed!

Hummingbird on front deck -small


*The humming birds continue to come to the feeders, many of them this summer’s offspring.  Their numbers keep multiplying, partly due to their nectar sources.  The two legged innkeepers have kept the sugar content high throughout the year to ensure they are able to concentrate on their nesting needs.  Several years of consistent feeding means the hummers come back every year and the numbers multiply.  The varieties of plants that flower from spring to fall on the mountain and in the gardens certainly add to their diet.  They always seem happy zipping and darting from flower to flower.

*Many people seem to come and go throughout the summer season with different accents and interests, but all polite and intrigued by the wildlife.  The wild cottontail bunnies have been a real hit with the guests thus far.


Pistol Creekfishing guests- small


*Lovely kitchen aromas waft through the air, especially in the early hours of the morning.  I long for a taste of the the German puff pancake served with cinnamon and nutmeg spiced apple-huckleberry sauce.  The recipe is listed below if you’d like to try and whip it up in your own kitchen!  I’ll do some snooping around before my next “Deer” Diary Entry so I can share one of the newest breakfast additions from this summer. Well, I guess this is the last of today’s tale, or is that tail?  It’s sure been fun doing some summer reminiscing, but now it’s truly time to high tail it up the hill even further before darkness settles in!


A TASTY BREAKFAST TREAT!Puff pancake 4-11-08 036 small

 German Puff Pancake with Apples & Wild Berries
(Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast, LLP)

4 Eggs (lightly beaten)            1 C. Sugar                   
1 C. Milk                                2  t. Vanilla
1/4 t. Salt                             ½ t. Almond ex.
1 C. Flour                             4 T. Butter (divided)
1 T Butter                            2 apples (peeled and chopped)
2 T. Sugar                           1 C. Berries, half pureed
 ½ t Cinnamon and Nutmeg
  2t Corn starch
-Preheat oven to 400
-Put 9″ cast iron skillet on stove top and melt 1T of the butter
-Very lightly mix eggs, milk, salt, sugar and flour in a blender, or by hand with a whisk.
-When Butter is melted and hot, pour batter in and put in oven for 23-25 minutes.
 -While pancake is baking, melt rest of butter in a non-stick pan, add sugar, apples and spices.
    Cook on high for 3 minutes, then turn down to low and simmer for 5 more. 
-Add vanilla and almond extract, mix together and let sit on lowest setting. 
Remove pancake from skillet to a plate, top with apples and serve!