BRUSHBUCK CO-FOUNDER ADAM LACKNER’S SECOND INTERVIEW WITH LOCAL RADIO STATION, 96.9 THE MOUNTAIN
Listen to Brushbuck co-founder Adam Lackner talk to KMTN radio host Fish about a wide range of topics in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, including real-time sighting of local celebrity bear ‘399’, some facts about bears and their recent de-listing from the endangered species act, a foray into how Brushbuck trains their guides, and a discussion about why bringing the right equipment on a wildlife tour is crucial.
A transcript is provided if you don’t have access to audio.
FISH: Well, for the last couple of weeks we’ve been chatting with Adam from Brushbuck Wildlife Tours, you’ve probably seen their green safari type vehicles driving around town. Adam joins me this morning, good morning Adam, how are ya?
ADAM: Good mornin Fish, nice to see ya again.
FISH: You too, man. Let’s talk about what’s going on this morning, you’ve already gotten texts from some of your guides, they’re out early in the morning, and some of your guides have come across a very famous grizzly already today.
ADAM: Yes, it looks like we’re getting some more updates as well. So, what it is, is we have a network of guides and photographers, and our network has one guide up in West Yellowstone, and several photographers in the area, and then of course our guides [out guiding tours]. And so I’m looking at some updates right now, we’ve had, 399 has been spotted this morning up near the dam, with her cubs, and so she’s always quite a highlight for this region, because she’s a locally famous bear, and 399 is just the ear tag that was put in her ear by the US Fish and Wildlife service back around 2006. So that’s where she gets that number, that name.
FISH: And you mentioned her two cubs, and you were kinda giving me a little lesson on bruin [brown bear], what, lifecycles? Is that fair to say?
ADAM: They have a very interesting breeding, right? So the sows come into season usually in May or June, and so the boar runs with the sow, they have their bear romance, which we’ve seen on tours, they growl and they bite each other and have fun, and it’s pretty cool to watch…
FISH: Typical night at my house too.
ADAM: [laughing] Yeah, exactly. So what happens is the boar mates with the sow, and then they have what’s called delayed implantation, so what that means is the eggs are fertilized, but they don’t actually develop until November, when the sow goes into, November-December time frame, when the sow goes into her den [for the winter], and based on her health, depends on how many cubs she’ll have. So if she’s very healthy, she may have up to 5 cubs in the den, and usually late January, early February they’re born.
FISH: So these two cubs that are with 399, were born in the winter –
ADAM: Yeah, in late January or early February.
FISH: – so they’re called COY cubs? Is that right?
ADAM: These cubs are COY – Cubs Of the Year is what that’s short for. So, our guides will use that on tours, and on updates, and things like that. You’ll see COY, cubs of the year. And we call them cubs of the year because sows usually keep their cubs for 2 years, 3 springs, and that makes them one of the slowest breeding mammals in North America, behind only the Musk Ox. They’re the only ones that’re slower.
FISH: See what kind of stuff you learn on this radio program? And when you go on tour with these guys, Brushbuck Wildlife Tours, you get a lot more information. More information on their tour options, by the way, at brushbucktours.com, they’re here in town. All [of their] guides are extremely knowledgeable, and I think that’s really what makes a difference, whether you’re going down the river, going down, you know, a tour with wildlife, it’s all about the guide.
ADAM: Yeah, the guides make a big difference. Having guides with Biology backgrounds, having guides with with hunting backgrounds, outdoorsman backgrounds. Those guides take you out, and they interpret the landscape, interpret the animals, and it makes for a much better experience then if you just did it on your own.
FISH: And let’s talk about the landscape – ‘cuz it’s not always about wildlife, I mean, even though you pretty much guaranteed me that if you go on tour with Brushbuck Wildlife Tours you’re gonna see some wildlife, but I think some of the thermal features that are available up in Yellowstone, your guides are knowledgeable in that department as well.
ADAM: That’s right, so we attend these talks from the local [researchers], like Bob Christenson, he’ll have some talks in the Jackson Hole Geology Club, they have talks, and so we attend these talks, we film ‘em, we use ‘em for studying, so our guides are up to speed on everything that’s happening from the Teton Glaciers, to the Teton Fault, to the Yellowstone Caldera, so they can speak about these things as well. So [our] guests get a great experience about the geology, hot springs, faults, and everything else.
FISH: Lots of different options through Brushbuck Wildlife Tours, as I mentioned, we’re talking with Adam, you can get more information on brushbucktours.com, you can also call the toll-free number, 888-282-5868. If you’re in town visiting, this is certainly the best way to see Grand Teton, Yellowstone areas, and again the wildlife and, special, you know, geographic, geological features as well.
FISH: Also, what I thought was really interesting when we first started talking, you mentioned how your guides go through a special, sniper training sessions.
ADAM: Yeah, what that is, it’s a Marine Corps sniper observation class. So basically a Marine Corps sniper uses about 99.9% observation and only about .01% shooting. And so, observation is a big deal to get intelligence. So basically our guides, they go, I train them with this class to observe with their optics, their spotting scopes, tripods, and binoculars, to find animals. And so we’ll glass up animals, in the case of wolves in the winter, we’ll see them over a mile away, we’ll see a pack running across the snow on an ice field, possibly having a kill, and if you don’t have that kind of training, then you’re not gonna see those animals. You’re gonna go out, those might be the only wolves [you have a chance to see] all day –
FISH: Drive right past them.
ADAM: – and you’re gonna miss ‘em, gonna drive right by, or you don’t even have the equipment to see ‘em if there’s a crowd there watching them. And so, having that equipment, having that training, is a big part of being a Brushbuck guide, and we pride ourselves on that. The training makes a big difference.
FISH: Well, you can certainly tell, as I said, guides really are the difference. Everybody can drive themselves up to Yellowstone, but if you don’t have a guide to tell you what, and especially, like, seeing something from a mile away. Scenery, wildlife, experienced guides, 399 this morning, and of course bears in the news because they’ve just come off, I believe the endangered species act right?
ADAM: That’s right, so basically the state of Wyoming is going to take over management, and that’s been a pretty hot topic lately, and so the greater Yellowstone coalition has taken a position, and so we’ve been listening to see what the position is from the Wyoming Game and Fish, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and so it looks like their mission is fringe areas, so, the Wyoming Game and Fish has openly stated that they’re not wanting to hunt bears near the park, which is nice for tourism and for the local area here in Jackson. Because 399 and other bears are very conditioned to people, they’ve raised their cubs to be conditioned to people as well. But bears out near Cody, or out in fringe areas where there’s livestock, there’s obviously human-bear conflict, and that’s where Wyoming Game and Fish is saying they’re going to focus on. And so they will have some tags, possibly even this fall, so. We will see how that unfolds.
FISH: Alright. So your best bet is to go early in the morning, or in the late afternoon hours when wildlife is on the move, these guys can dial you up, give em a call, 888-282-5868, or go online, brushbucktours.com, we’ll talk more about them next Wednesday as well. Adam, thank you as always for hanging out. It’s always good info. We got to get out there!
ADAM: Hey, thanks a lot Fish. Yeah, you got to get out with us.
Listen to Adam’s other radio interviews: