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Pronghorn Buck Definitely Smoked

Pronghorn Buck Definitely Smoked
Pronghorn Buck Definitely Smoked

Pronghorn Buck Definitely Smoked

A close / far perspective is never very far from my mind when working the backcountry. I often go places on ranch that I haven’t been for years. Sometimes that pays off in unusual ways. I really don’t find a lot of Pronghorn Skulls here. They are particularly rare here (anyway) with the horn sheaths still attached. Those fall off very easily as they are shed each year. To find a pretty well preserved skull already cleaned by the local insects…. it was a good morning lolol. I have a suspicion that when I get just the right place, I’m going to have this out at 100 yards with a HUGE sun between it’s horns due to the perspective. Stay tuned, it is riding in the back seat of “Clever Girl” until I find just the right composition for it.

I had been driving hills of late often going into 4 wheel low. The Raptor doesn’t have much trouble with the terrain. It takes me where I ask it too regardless of the smoke conditions. It seems to be able to breath just fine with it’s twin turbos lol. . Me I don’t like the air much, a little asthmatic from it, a slight cough. HEPA filter in the dash of the Truck AND in my living room at the moment. I keep the windows closed and limit my on foot time during this “inconvenience”. I normally drive TO the ridge and walk around. These smokey days, I’m driving all over the ridge and walking very little. Seems the smart thing to do. I’m also not putting my Mastiffs in their kennel. They hang out next to the HEPA and air conditioning vent.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Pronghorn Buck Definitely Smoked

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Mantis on the Last Flower

Mantis on the Last Flower
Mantis on the Last Flower

Mantis on the Last Flower

This flower somehow survived the very early frost we had last week (as this posts). It was on the highest point of the highest remaining flower (not too many left). Between the hail storm in July beating up every flowing plant with a view straight up got destroyed. At a minimum it bruised or at least broke most of the plant up. Just like I have 5 apples on a tree that normally would yield several bushels, I have a few flowers about. The suspicion is that this is high value real estate. All sorts of creatures were around this small bed in a sheltered area getting their fill with the pollen. Bees, Flies, Wasps bugs of all kinds were visiting this island in the middle of a hailed upon desert. The Mantis was staking it’s claim.

I’m sorry to say the cold probably got this one I’m pretty sure. It was a good summer for insects. Particularly grasshoppers. There should be lots of Mantis Egg sacs about. IF I see any I’ll photograph them of course. I have found one in the ranches Walipini Greenhouse already. It’s our 6th generation of them down there.

I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predators if you ask me 🙂 I was on my knees praying for this shot. However I was all in for good focus as well as a slower subject lol.

Mantis are part of a huge order of some 2400 species under that umbrella worldwide. This is a native Wyoming/Montana species. Though almost all the flowers it hunting have all been imported from elsewhere. Thrilled he was to see my lens coming at him lolol. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. They might see themselves in a mirror. Patient predator if you ask me 🙂 The are constantly moving back and forth a lot to imitate plants swaying in the breeze. They usually don’t stick around in any one place very long on their rounds.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Mantis on the Last Flower

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Hair Standing on End

Hair Standing on End
Hair Standing on End

Hair Standing on End

I came over the top of a hill giving this Mule Deer Doe a start. Ever had the arms and neck go prickly before? A little adrenaline, a little furtive movement…high alert. She settled down in a few minutes and resumed grazing in the small group near her. This time of year everything is getting aware of the seasons change. Usually long before human are. The nights are getting longer now. The fall equinox is but 6 days away from this post. I see the change in their coats starting. They are starting to get a little bushy. Sort of like me not visiting a barber for 6 months. (I actually cut my own hair lol).

The does ears are big and sensitive but a ridge can muffle the sounds coming up the other side if the wind is up. Just appearing 50 yards out, I definitely got inside her comfort zone too quickly. Fortunately I managed to photograph her quartering off to me.

Boy if I was hunting…. meat for the taking for a landowners doe tag. It’s getting close to October when the serious hunting starts in this area. I personally don’t hunt unless we are having a population problem that needs thinning. I’d just assume play “counting coup” with my camera on the deer.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Hair Standing on End

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Well Fed Feeding Doe

Well Fed Feeding Doe
Well Fed Feeding Doe

Well Fed Feeding Doe

Talk about pot belly lol. This is certainly a doe that is properly positioned in her world. She has learned to take advantage of the resources offered to her. Our ranch is full of edible plants (to them anyway) and is well watered. She is in a pretty good place with most of the top level predation under control.

Caught her looking up. I had to make some noise to break her focus on the ground. The sun was setting and I had places to be. Deer are less than cooperative to my will usually. I hope they do one thing, they do another. It’s a 50/50 chance most of the time. Fortunately these wild critters tolerate me well in my black pickup (Clever Girl). Having seen me many times out on the ranch land. I thought her expression was priceless….

Note: A fairly big black bear was just taken by a local rancher while it was eating a cow in the backcountry. Less than 10 miles from here just over what I call ridge 4…. Kudos to that ranch. We share the same backcountry with that ranch to the east. I really love being deep into a dinosaur pit with my butt up in the air around here. Makes one a little paranoid…. At the homestead, two decades and no bears…. A bear probably wouldn’t like the electric fence we keep around our facility at all. It has discouraged most creatures touching it since it’s inception lol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Well Fed Feeding Doe

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Late Night Feeding (Shhhhh)

Late Night Feeding (Shhhhh)
Late Night Feeding (Shhhhh)

Late Night Feeding (Shhhhh)

Always grainy the pitch black capture of a Game Trail Cameral (GTC) is problematic to me. I have to look through thousands of blurry images to find one this good but…. None the less, they are always candid and without prejudice by the actors. They are always behaving naturally for those auto photon capture boxes. It takes a flash of an Infra-red LED panel to illuminate the scene. Our human eyes are incapable of seeing in this part of the light spectrum in the Infra-red band. The deer aren’t usually aware that something happened. Different cameras make different amounts of noise so sometimes they look surprised lol.

Knowing the characteristics of how the flash works on particular brands of cameras is a big deal I’m finding out. Placement of the cameras should always be that the “funnels’ one might channel the animals into the optimal flash exposure area. Just like it did here. If they would have been closer, they would have been white like the stick in the foreground. Take note where the trails are and set the camera back 15 feet for most medium settings from where you think the animals are going to be. You have a 5 foot on either side of that (generally) for sloppp.

Placement of these GTC’s is everything. It’s really the only control of the image you have is your composition and analysis of the scene. You have to figure out where everybody walks and cover that area sufficiently. Then just stand back for a few weeks to months and see what happened there.

I planted 8 cameras of the 17 that I just serviced yesterday/this am. 9 to go. I’m planting all with fresh batteries that should last the winter. If you avoid compositions where wind blows grass or branches in front of the lens, your batteries will last a year. If cattle mull around your cameras, the batteries will last a week lolol. I won’t be able to get to most of these cameras until the snow melts in the spring.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Late Night Feeding (Shhhhh)

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Looking For Lost Spots

Looking For Lost Spots
Looking For Lost Spots

Looking For Lost Spots

This Fawn Mule Deer is looking for those spots. Must have lost them somewhere around there. It’s been walking around with it’s head down for 10 minutes. Must be looking for something…..

Being 4-5 months old now grazing with it’s twin and Mother up High on a ridge line I call Rattlesnake Ridge. You’ve been seeing images of these guys all summer. I run into them randomly out on the ranch land during my journeys.

Love the lighting for this shot. (note the blur before and blur after. (f11 with a long telephoto due to the lower smoke filtered light levels). This clearly shows what “depth of field” is. Focus in the center, blur on either side of the focal zone. You have to think in 3-D for this work most of the time. The forest fire smoke is color casting the red here.

This fawn has not been named since it’s ears are perfect without notches. I’ll loose track of it by spring. Hopefully she will hang with her sister who has a very identifiable notch in her ear. Guilt by association at that point. I’ll wait until next spring to name this one. They change so much as they grow. Their mother is also easy to ID with her ears. Mule deer have HUGE ears. Much more so than Whitetail.

Re: Rattlesnake Ridge: Yes it is a sinuous ridge looking from above. My reason for the name is: apparently the ranches owner back in the 70’s, dynamited a rattle snake den here. Or so the story goes. Dynamite was a LOT easier to get back then. Years ago I heard a skuttlebutt rumor of an old box of dynamite sitting around on some fictional surrounding ranch. I’ve dealt with a lot of explosives over the last 10 years in my day job. I’d certainly rather not have to deal with 50 year old sticks of H.E. Probably a puddle of liquid nitro on the bottom of the box lol. I’m sure it’s a rumor… I’ll hear about it if true… (in the distant boom lolol). We really don’t have a lot of rattlers though which has been a good thing I believe.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

TItle: Looking For Lost Spots

Looking For Lost Spots

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Awkward Fawn Late Spring

Awkward Fawn Late Spring
Awkward Fawn Late Spring

Awkward Fawn Late Spring

Languishing in my “to do folder” unnoticed from last spring was this little chubby gal fawn. She obviously has a lot of attitude. She was all business with her twin just off frame moments before. Now shes prancing about sticking her tongue out. You will notice the rounded belly of a baby that obviously has spent some time on the spigot. Moms lunch counter the two share. They mix that with tasty morsels from the buffet around them. I’m sure there are many good looking plants that tasted terrible though. Learning quickly is a trait of the species but this one is a mere baby when this was taken.

The deer live on what they forage . They are tougher than cattle with regards to eating certain plants. For instance, deer can eat pine needles and not abort their fetus.The turpentine in the pine needles can and will cause cattle to spontaneously abort.. So certain pastures with pine trees are not good winter pasture for cattle. Deer have a very tolerant system to deal with such things.

This fawn I have followed over the summer. This is miss “Perfect Ears” I’ve spoken of in other posts. She is always lagging behind the other two. More curious of things I believe. She is more than cooperative and tolerant of “Clever Girl” driving around, stopping and sitting with a big eye sticking out the drivers window…. I hope we have a mild wet winter… I miss the spring already….

Have a great night all from my workstation here on ranch 🙂

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Awkward Fawn Late Spring

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What Was That Noise

What Was That Noise
What Was That Noise

What Was That Noise

Here I caught Jean Doe (cousin of Jane Doe but misspelled… same letters…) with a game trail camera. Nice notched ear. You see, this was taken with a 360 degree camera that swivels internally toward movement. From detection to first click is about 2 seconds. Just enough time for a curious doe to look at the source of the whir with the corresponding click. The candid nature of the captures more than make up for the image issues from the Game Camera.

Now standard as a game trail camera capture, it’s an edgy image. . It’s a little overexposed in the sky, some movement blur on her face. None the less, I thought this was a REALLY good Game trail acquisition. Strictly an automatic camera capture too. It’s all about how you plant them and where.

It’s probably only going to be an 18 x 18 final though. Maybe smaller. But I’m loving the look of Jean’s innocent curiosity taking over. She is not perceiving a threat here. I just think she doesn’t understand how that “stump” (camo’d camera) moved and made a sound. Magic is high technology that is not understood. They get used to cars driving by but audible noise from a human contrivance is definitely interesting it seems. Her magic for the moment suffice to say. I constantly am amazed around here by unique scene appearing seeming at another’s will. Certainly I don’t do magic. I do sure as heck try to record it when it happens in front of my gear……

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: What Was That Noise

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Deer Hide and Seek

Deer Hide and Seek
Deer Hide and Seek

Deer Hide and Seek

Satire:

Random things happen all the time. Who would have thought I’d come upon two yearlings (1.5 year old buck anyway) playing hide and seek in the woods. They both carefully backed in behind the old pine to hide from me… Not seeing each other figured they were safe… What happened after this I leave to your imagination but I suspect someone or both got a startle when they bumped. I know but I’m not telling 🙂 I unfortunately did not get much more on camera as they weren’t cooperating with my mental wishes.

Back to my normal programming.

Well the twilight was spectacular anyway as par for the course of late. Magnificent skies are the rule rather than the exception when wispy clouds are overhead and there is a lot of smoke in the air. Long traveled sunshine colored the clouds with only the finest of displays that night.

Finding two deer on a ridge in front of the show was cool. Having them pose for me, priceless. The two caught in my cameras stare were frozen in time. Click. Who can argue with photographic evidence of hide and seek play lolol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

Title: Deer Hide and Seek

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Grackles Watering Up

Grackles Watering Up
Grackles Watering Up

Grackles Watering Up

I’d say these guys were traveling the neighborhood and found an oasis in this high near desert environment. I usually keep a game camera pointing at active (full) stock tanks. Some day I’m going to photograph a big raptor on this tank but not yet lolol. Mostly I get blurry animals at night but SOME (1 in maybe 100) day time image are pretty good.

Here “Sneaky Pete” the windmill is watching the commotion as he effectively photobombs this wildlife image. I have no control over his actions.

We keep four stock tanks running all year with a small by high pressure water jet into the tank. This circulates the water in a circle and tends to keep it open in the winter. I’ve not had one freeze up yet. About a gallon in 4 minutes… Pumping water for lifestock and wildlife consumption has been expensive over the decades I suspect. I haven’t crunched the numbers and really don’t want to know… With all the cattle our water pumping amounts to around 100 bucks a month worth of electricity. Fortunately that is right around what we get back from the utility company we feed with 18 big solar panels each month. More water use in the summer of course, less in the winter.

I figure without liquid water in the winter, most of the deer that winter here would move to lower (wetter) locations. The grackles are migratory so are grouping this time of year. They raid my barnyard when they get the urge as well. This tank is a busy winter tank. Lots of deer come to water here.

Title: Grackles Watering Up

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Buck Heard the Click

Buck Heard the Click
Buck Heard the Click

Buck Heard the Click

It took me almost 5 months to collect this image from one of the 29 game trail cameras I keep running in the Wyotana backcountry. They usually take relatively crappy images, blurred, too dark or too light, or just off frame. Each and every image I get off a 150 dollar Game Trail Camera has a host of issues that a 3 thousand dollar camera doesn’t. Of course, I don’t have to leave a 3K dollar camera out in the elements either lololol. I have to fix each game camera image I post within the digital dark room. I literally have to look at 1000 or more images to get one that even has a prospect of making it into my portfolio. This is one such photos. This is very close to the camera for it to be in focus in this moderate light.

I’m thinking he heard the “Click/whir/sound of the camera. This particular camera has a 360 degree circle sensor. If it senses movement anywhere around it, the camera literally swings around inside of the gadget to take a photo in that direction. So it makes a little whirly noise and a click when it goes. I like them because they cover a HUGE area from all angles. I can put one 360 degree game camera out versus 3 or 4 regular game cameras. Humm, tough choice…

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Buck Heard the Click

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Furrow Orb Weaver Underside

Furrow Orb Weaver Underside
Furrow Orb Weaver Underside

Furrow Orb Weaver Underside

So I’m walking around the homestead. It was the last of the reasonable summer evenings. A bit cool. By “happenstance” I was carrying a specialized 2 foot long macro lens. It has a ring of LED lights around it’s periphery. This requires I carry an external battery back to run it in my pocket. You can NEVER have enough light to capture bugs with a Macro camera. More light = Deeper field of focus possible. Hand held capture.

Starting out, I was thinking to myself…what’s out tonight? I used the LED at the end of the lens like a flashlight (which is basically is). Looking for “Close and Personal” creatures out in the dark. Fortunately for me, this fully mature Arachnid appeared floating in mid air near an outdoor light. An old friend….. Catching bugs is a good profession. I’m glad this fellow has a job. It’s ventral view of course with it’s spinerette and the “Alien” (ET) pattern on it’s Abdomen lol.

In this Ultra Close up, I’m using a 2x macro and I’m about an inch from it to get this Macro shot. I suspect it was chilling down at the time and a little slow with summer hot nights behind us now. Well fed it looks. I’ve seen the many webs it’s been building all summer. You either love or hate these guys. Enjoy those hairy legs either way.

Taxonomy: (I believe the ID is correct).

Larinioides patagiatus, sometimes referred to as “furrow orb weavers”
Family: Araneidae / Genus: Larinioides

Larinioides patagiatus (Clerck, 1757)

These guys get around. Found in: North America, Europe, Turkey, Russia (Europe to Far East), Central Asia.

These are ubiquitous throughout Wyoming

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Furrow Orb Weaver Underside

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South End Northbound Deer

South End Northbound Deer
South End Northbound Deer

South End Northbound Deer

Whats the difference between deer nuts and beer nuts

Beer nuts are $1.50 a lb. And deer nuts are under a buck. (Top Hat crash Thump Thump…)

Sorry about that. I was so sure this post would be the butt of many jokes, I figured I’d pre-empt you lol. I’ve seen a lot of good photos of buck faces, I haven’t seen too many good images of Buck Butts. This game Trail Camera caught this young buck with velvet on it’s growing antlers. He was on his way to meet that gal sunbathing in the grass down range.

This image was late spring. My delay on Game Trail Camera captures can be considerable. Might be 6 months at times over the winter. First of all it’s been months since I’ve serviced this particular automatic camera. It sits down in the wonderful grassy wash deeply hidden from the outside world. This drainage is a world unto itself of old cottonwoods and cedars. Grasses up to your waist with a notable lack of noxious weeds. Something that contaminates from the outside those weeds like Canadian Thistle whose seeds blow in with the wind.

The soil/ground here is undisturbed by human machinations. Maybe a fence post hole or two along it’s course. Unchanged by European Man is this ground. As a pre-historic note… I point out that there is a documented “Clovis Man” 10,000 year old archeological site 10 miles from this spot. I’m thinking those same paleo-lithic types walked this valley. Just a tad bit before I did.

The Mule Deer as a species survived the extinction of the Megafauna. The Clovis Man culture disappeared into the mists of North America as the Glaciers Melted / Ablated away. The deer aren’t telling the story. They sure seem to have a genetic memory. That to be fearful of two legged creatures…. humm.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: South End Northbound Deer

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Last Thing a Rabbit Sees

Last Thing a Rabbit Sees
Last Thing a Rabbit Sees

Last Thing a Rabbit Sees

So I’m collecting game trail camera chips, replacing batteries on 29 planted cameras out on the ranchlands. I have a habit of placing a good camera on fence braces which stick up above the wire being the highest things around. Then I take into account the amount of bird poop on the post. I have my own scale for such things as I have many more fence braces than cameras lol. Most big birds flare out to burn off speed just before they land so aim lower than the top of the post. I split the difference and give myself a “halfie where the image is 1/2 horizon, 1/2 grass. (shaking head side to side).

This has to be the single best game trail camera photo I’ve collected in years of images from my network. The Prairie Falcon volunteered for this one. An event like this is strictly random on the birds part. Setting the camera up just right is about the only control I have over the daytime operation of these things. I had 780 images on this particular chip. I pulled a few Pronghorn images, I was just about done with the batch, this popped up. My eye’s popped out and I started laughing. In the scheme of things, I will be hard pressed to get luckier than this. The Raptor was captured landing August 28th at 4 pm by the automatic Game Trail Camera.

Now if you say this looks pretty good for a game trail camera. It took me an hour in the digital dark room to clean up most of the problems affiliated with such cameras. They make a very messy, noisy, artifact covered image to my standards. Now this is an 18×18 inch file after I finished with it. :).

The word is “Tickled” ….

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Last Thing a Rabbit Sees

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Prancing Prairie Falcon and Post

Prancing Prairie Falcon and Post
Prancing Prairie Falcon and Post

Prancing Prairie Falcon and Post

I was tickled when I got this. I’ve been planting Game Trail Cameras on certain Posts up high topographically. I figured that sooner or later I’d get a raptor of somekind dropping by for a visit. Bingo lolol.

This Prairie Falcon is about crow sized. That constitutes a largish bird for the Falcons. They do have about a 3 foot wing span if that gives you any indication of their power. Falco mexicanus is it’s scientific name and weighs not quite 2 pound. That’s a pile of guided missile with beaks and claws. Love the cheek patches. I’m not sure what he was dancing to but I’ve heard the fence wire make music before.

The trick here is to place the camera to catch the bird in focus. The lighting and his timing were totally random of course. Once I place a camera, it is autonomous in it’s actions for the next 1/2 year or so. Most game cameras don’t focus well up close and personal. Nor am I typically forunately enough to capture the bird totally in frame AND in focus. There was only one frame of this animal.

ALL of the game trail camera image I’ve dealt with have major problems for me to deal with. Most issue are related to the way they process files and the fact that they are less than a 200 dollar automatic camera. For some reason they don’t produce the image quality of a five thousand dollar camera rig. This one came out amazing to me. Got REALLY lucky with the lighting.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Prancing Prairie Falcon and Post

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Mule Deer Family Portrait

Mule Deer Family Portrait
Mule Deer Family Portrait

Mule Deer Family Portrait

Overall it’s a fairly excellent photo from a game trail camera (GTC). Each and every one that I finish takes a lot of attention to detail to fix the issues inherent with GTC images. Finishing them this well takes a LOT of luck. This is Jane Doe and Twins in the early summer.

I’ve been watching them all year and they are currently starting to loose their spots. Probably should name them as they are going to be future stars of my photography. You can’t see it here but one of them has a chunk out of it’s ear which makes it easily identifiable. The other one will present a problem to differentiate from another random doe. No Notches on her. Jane’s left ear is slit nicely which makes her easy to discern in the crowd. I ran across these guys the night before I typed this narrative.

Of late I’ve been collecting most of the “Chips” (SD cards) from my network of Game Trail Cameras (29 currently I think)…I only see some of them once a year or so depending on where I planted it. Collecting them spread out over s 6 square mile area is a chore. So I can’t visit every location in one day. Usually I do this over a week in the later summer. Then I look at THOUSANDS of random automatic camera images (99 percent crap) over several days. Just occasionally I get a good one. This particular 360 degree sensing camera is planted nearby a path to a stock tank that this particular family unit waters. It literally will detect and take a photo anywhere in the full circle (not a panorama). Normally it takes 3 or 4 cameras to properly cover a likely spot.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Mule Deer Family Portrait

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Herd of Pronghorn Hanging

Herd of Pronghorn Hanging
Herd of Pronghorn Hanging

Herd of Pronghorn Hanging

Abundant Pronghorn live on the western plains. One of their major wildlife refuges is the Thunderbasin National Grasslands. Made up of several blocks of land just to our south, the Grasslands are huge. All these animals migrated from the federal land refuge in the spring to pasture on the surrounding privately owned ranchlands. Summer pastures versus winter pastures. These animals have been doing this for the last 10,000 years at least.

This late in the summer, they are starting to group / bunch up. Earlier in the year the does break off to give birth. The males get in small groups. The males will slowly get control over the loose females in their area. Then the serious stuff begins. I count 3 bucks in this group.

The rut is coming very soon and may be happening to one degree or another at the moment. I’m not sure what the rough environment this year had on their activities but I usually get close to rutting activity. Trail Cameras do work for me 24/7 and I get a lot of opportunity to see Pronghorn in and around the ranch. I see some groups two times a day. Depending on how they are feeling, occasionally I get lucky and can move in close. When the groups are this big though, they get collectively and synergistically jumpy. Life in an ocean of grass.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Herd of Pronghorn Hanging

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Red Fox Siblings Hunting

Red Fox Siblings Hunting
Red Fox Siblings Hunting

Red Fox Siblings Hunting

Second image in this timeline:

These two Red Fox were obviously on the hunt during the daylight out on the open grasslands. Intent on some movement ignoring me entirely. With hundreds of thousands of acres only separated by porous Barbed Wire, they wander large areas. The Unlimited hunting opportunities for them makes a pair like this grow fast. There is a lot of mice this year eating grass that was beat up by hail. These two are likely siblings.

Foxes get a bad reputation for attacking chicken houses. I’ve had 30 or more chickens for several decades now. Never had a fox get them. Currently we are protected by an electric fence barrier to anything bigger than a house cat. Of course the chickens get put away at night inside of the cages enclosure. The ducks are on their own. They sleep under the stars. Have to feed the Owls somehow lolol.

I’m pretty sure based on my observations, foxes are not pests to be shot at but a critical part of the ecosystem up here. Being omnivore, they certainly eat small mammals like squirrels, rabbits and mice. Bird are certainly on their menu list though. Mostly small birds I point out lol. A large part of the red fox’s diet is made up bugs and other invertebrates. Even crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars and crayfish. Most don’t know they eat berries and grass for their fruit/ grains on the food pyramid. Tough world up here as there isn’t a convenience store on the corner to get a drum stick and a bag of chips after all.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: Red Fox Siblings Hunting

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The Doe and the Light

The Doe and the Light
The Doe and the Light

The Doe and the Light

Sometimes the lighting just has to control your compositions. Backlighting makes it difficult to capture detail on the shaded side. Many cameras cannot discern the subtle textures and shades of brown/black in the shade. Literally the gear makes the difference in a capture in this lighting environment. You get what you pay for is very true with cameras unfortunately.

The Whitetail mother deer well fed from her forays out onto it’s ranchland, is browsing for edibles closer to her water source. Our corrals have water 24/7/365 for them and have for two decades. This mother was raised here and her mother before, rinse and repeat. Raised on water we pump out of Cretaceous Beach Sand. The dinosaur having walked on it a few years back. Walking on corral that was bull dozed in the mid-1960’s on top of an old Cretaceous River Sand and associated shales. Those shales are complete with leaf fossils from the surrounding forest.

The deer of course is not concerned what she is walking on or where the water comes from. She is concerned with the moment. The flow of her life will provide the direction she needs past the present. All without much consideration on her part. The circle is turning for her. It’s humans that concern ourselves with the price of things next week. The consequences of our actions are a grey area to us. I’m pretty sure a deer has a definite understanding of right and wrong choices. Wrong always has a bad ending to a deer. Being grey, human feel luckier and somehow above it. But the circle is always turning. 👀

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: The Doe and the Light

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A Couple of Backcountry Foxes

A Couple of Backcountry Foxes
A Couple of Backcountry Foxes

A Couple of Backcountry Foxes

So these two were hanging out together. They look gracile and female with nothing hanging down to give way their gender. Commonly sisters or a group can hang together. I’ve seen more fox this year than any other. I attribute “Clever Girl” to my being more stealthy.

There are some 45 sub-species of the “Red Fox”. Sorry I wasn’t closer… This was very tough lighting with all this smoke. They were way out there as well. It was a random encounter of course. I was driving back to a lake on our place as I rounded a hill, these guys first bolted, then because I suddenly stopped with engine going off, they looked back. This is classic animal behavior when you stop to play dead. Moving, you represent an immediate threat. Suddenly I was a parked truck with a big eye sticking out the side. Interesting, not scary 😜

The Red Fox are the largest of the Foxes in North America. They are being domesticated in Russia. Cool! I suspect they would be a wonderful pet as they are smart obviously. Very adaptable to change, they are widely distributed around the world. They were late comers to North America only arriving here after the last Glaciation. There was a rapid change in fauna after that time with the extinction of many megafauna. Any opening in an ecology is quickly filled. Niches don’t stay open long. Some other creature died and these guys moved in. Or some other creature may have died when the Red Fox moved in as an exotic species. Late Pleistocene species interactions are not known THAT well. WE have a lot of presence/absence data but further inference of complex relationship is somewhat more difficult to make.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: A Couple of Backcountry Foxes

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Got A Bad Itch

Got A Bad Itch
Got A Bad Itch

Got A Bad Itch

Good Evening All.

Boy I wish I was that flexible. I can actually touch my toes standing but my neck isn’t quite this flexible I’m thinking. Bending sideways that much gives me the willies as I’ve had back surgery already. Somethings you just have to itch lolol.

This wondrous lighting scenario was during a very late day. This doe and her group were coming into our corral system to water up for the night. It’s a daily routine but I’m not usually nearby with a telephoto. I can’t tell you the number of things that happen right under my nose every day. There are so many happening going on up here at any one time. Deer about, Pronghorn about, Cattle about, Chickens, Ducks, Dogs and Cats. LOTS of various small animals and birds live in this habitat. But yet at the same time it’s all about being there with a camera at just the correct place in time and Space. Rule #1 of Photography: Have a camera with you.

The Whitetail deer are more gracile than the Mule deer. Their ears are smaller. There is NO black on their tail either. Mule deer have huge ears with a black tipped tail on the other end. Whitetail are a LOT smaller. This one is very well fed (not pregnant) late summer with a big fat belly to show for her effort. It’s going to be a very long winter (bad) if this year keeps on giving… Maybe that will kill the grasshoppers. 😜 Think “winter is coming” (classical reference).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Got A Bad Itch

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Meadowlarks and Red Wing Blackbirds

Meadowlarks and Red Wing Blackbirds
Meadowlarks and Red Wing Blackbirds

Meadowlarks and Red Wing Blackbirds

Ranch Life is full of spur of the moment photo opportunities. Meanwhile down in the barnyard, after the chickens and ducks have had their fill of the grain I reluctantly give them. It was early smokey morning red light that day. The sun was fairly high just emerging from the smoke pall that morning..

I hate to feed yard birds too much so they will hunt bugs (their job). This image of course are the wildling beggars that come in from all over every morning to clean up the mess left behind by the domestics.

I have never caught 5 Meadowlarks all flying in the same frame. (I’ve tried). The “one” on the left is actually two. There are some Juvenile Red Wing Blackbirds about with one dead center flying. All mixed with adult Red Wings… It was a feast for the wild birds short on grain in this drought year plus water is 50 feet away. I understand why they show up here. My domestic birds have been fed here for 15 years every day. I suppose that sets up a series of expectation by local wildlife. Particularly that which can fly over our deer resistant fences.

The barnyard is fenced in well. We mostly keep predators out with low electric wires. Our cats go through it but they have lived here for years. They know the best places.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Meadowlarks and Red Wing Blackbirds

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Whitetail Doe Right Face

Whitetail Doe Right Face
Whitetail Doe Right Face

Whitetail Doe Right Face

A full frame capture of a Plump White Tail Doe (tending for a young just off screen). Note NO black on the tail? Not a mule Deer plus the ears are not right either. Taken in one of our corrals, there is a watering hole that is open 24/7/365. Many deer winter over due to the presence of flowing water. They would be forced down river to find fast flowing water otherwise. I bet we water 50 critters not counting birds most days over 4 tanks. Each in different location watering an area of about 3 square miles. I’ve built a little water jet that always keeps the tank open (so far through 1 winter). It saves a LOT of money pumping water.

The critters don’t mind at all. I’m waiting for one of my game trail cameras catching someone drinking out of the water jet lol. I’m still trying to figure out how these guys get in and out of the corral. They get into this enclosure earlier than I like to get up. I couldn’t catch them with conventional gear anyway lol. Too dark that time of morning. I use game trail cameras for that kind of thing usually.

I have all sorts of wildlife encounters around the stock water tanks. More time needs to be spend around those tanks. So many hours in the day….

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana border lands (Wyotana)

Title: Whitetail Doe Right Face

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Twin Forces of Nature

Twin Forces of Nature
Twin Forces of Nature

Twin Forces of Nature

Close / Far Perspective

If you don’t think one is dangerous and the other isn’t, you need to live up here a while. It would change your opinion. Two things that can mess up your day are in this image lol. You might have to look closer to see the 5 deer and one bedded Pronghorn. The thunderhead (Mesocyclone) Anvil is about 80 miles distant from the Bull. The sub-irrigated field still green even this late in the year.

Bulls are of course known to be temper-mental. I find generally they are lazy unless there is a Cow involved. In which case 1800 pounds of moving muscle on the hoof is a lot of hamburger to flip on the grill. This is the sized animal that if it decides to screw with you, your best bet is to start turning faster than he can lol. It’s your only hope lol. Being on a good cattle horse is a whole different experience of course.

The Huge Mesocyclone off in the distance is known to be temper-mental. Their bad behavior is due to the heating of the land by the sun during the day. The rising warm humid ground air coming into contact with cooler air aloft causing cloud growth. Like the bull, you can never predict what they are going to do.

Both will run right over you if you get in their way :(.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Twin Forces of Nature

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Wyotana Landscape Gold

Wyotana Landscape Golden Hour
Wyotana Landscape Golden Hour

Wyotana Landscape Gold

Watching the Photographer take a photo of the landscape, these two Mule Deer Doe’s were minding their own business. I come along and interrupt their grazing for a minute. Not my intent of course since I was minding my own business too. Driving in the backcountry I randomly run into small groups of creatures great and small. This time, I was more interested in the long landscape in front of me. But consider them and the tree they bracket, as a nice lower border to this composition. Bonus lol. This was a 10 layer landscape ladder just laid out for my enjoyment and now hopefully yours.

“Landscape ladders” are such captures with layer after layer of different color/texture/distance or topography. It’s easy to find a lot of intersecting angles in a landscape but layer on top of layer is desirable to me anyway lol. Of course this is a “Close / Far perspective taken

Late day Golden Hour Lighting predictably gave this image a markedly red colorcast as was true to the scene. I take great care to get the main sun colors properly weighted toward the longer wavelengths when appropriate. I’ve more or less categorized they types of evening light in my own head how. It is just a matter of verbalizing it now lol. I find that knowing and teaching are two different animals.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Wyotana Landscape Gold

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Angus Bull Golden Hour

Angus Bull Golden Hour
Angus Bull Golden Hour

Angus Bull Golden Hour

This is literally a Lot of Bull….

Lighting being what it is during the Golden Hour leading to dusk, you have to work fast. Bulls being bulls, working fast isn’t such a bad idea. Fortunately, the tight 5 wire fence SHOULD keep him from going through. Having seen other Bulls do it, I know he could jump right over that fence if he was motivated lolol. I’ve pushed these guys away from their girls using ATV’s. If they don’t want to move, you need a couple of good horses. It’s not easy to get them away from the herd. They CAN be stubborn lolol.

There are cowboys up here that have jumped on the back of these guys. I suspect not as much with these Black Angus Bulls. They are bred to be “docile”. Ones that are nutzy get rapid “trips to town”. So “relatively” tame bulls have killed people before. In cowboy country, there are a few risky things young men and women try.

Knowing quite a few 4H kids that raised bulls every year. Most of those are sold at the end of the fair. Local business buy them to make money for the kids. They are usually so tame that they like to be scratched and will follow their human around like a puppy. If you’ve never been to a rural county fair, the livestock tents are an interesting diversion.

Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: Angus Bull Golden Hour

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Mule Deer Doe and Fawn

Mule Deer Doe and Fawn
Mule Deer Doe and Fawn

Mule Deer Doe and Fawn

The wisdom of the Mother deer is evident in it’s quick glance over her shoulder to check on me. We surprised each other. I instantly stopped, the engine stopping in in my truck automatically. Suddenly I’m a parked car with a big eye sticking out of the side window. With me popping over the ridge. The startled fawn quickly running toward it’s mother for advice. Mother who had seen this trick before from me, casually checked me out before continuing to graze. The fawn sensing her “at ease”, hung out for a few seconds unsure. The young ones are starting to think for themselves at 3 months old. That’s the human equivalent of a 4 year old for Deer Mothers.

I considered whether to put this as the second image in my posts today. That is high praise from me for a deer photograph lol. Deer images mostly are relegated to the 3rd or 4th spot…. In otherwords, I love this image….. It might just be me… Or maybe it s the little hole in the Does left ear. (just checking to verify your “Seeing” and not just looking) 📸

Photography is about freezing those moments of space and time to preserve them for future purposes. I’m never sure how my images are utilized. This one will likely be a painting by someone within a few days I’m sure.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Mule Deer Doe and Fawn

Mule Deer Doe and Fawn

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Always One Slow Poke

Always One Slow Poke
Always One Slow Poke

Always One Slow Poke

These two Whitetail Does with fawns still have a yearling hanging with them. Probably the year old daughter of one of them was being a typical youngin’… EVERYBODY was waiting for her to jump that fence line ME included. Took her time…📸

It was a trip to get up high topographically. The trails diverged over a ridge to expose a 5 wire Barbed wire Bull pasture enclosure that the deer were in getting water. There aren’t many 5 wire fences in this country. Mostly 3 wire. When someone puts up 5, it’s for the big animals. His photo is forthcoming lol. I find modern bulls more or less stubborn and not as smart as your average 1 year old. Low and behold it was sharing a pasture with this one year old lol.

Well junior finally decided to risk the jump. By the looks of it it may have brushed that top wire. Having a few minutes between first and last deer to clear. Set up was I was machine gunning the camera at it lept. I have 7 images over this jump. So many good images, so little time to work on all of them. Heck it’s hard enough to look at everything I take let alone an entire timeline of a good sequence like this. I love to see (and photograph) deer clearing things except my own fence lolol. 😜

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Always One Slow Poke

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Tiger Salamander Show Down

Tiger Salamander Show Down
Tiger Salamander Show Down

Tiger Salamander Show Down

This is not a crop so it’s a BIG image for a salamander lol. This guy was a good 8 inches long and more or less happy in the water it was in. The hard part was getting him to stay still long enough to focus/click. He was hunting.

Brightly colored says “Stay away” as mouthing these guys will get your pets or kids sick. Even touching and then transferring it to your mouth can be detrimental to some individuals. Pretty much nobody bothers them but BIG one eyed (Cyclops to his perspective) photographers. IT had just rained probably wetting the crack he was in enough to entice him out to hunt. They are voracious eaters. I’ve found them along with toads by yard lights at night. The insects that are attracted to the light attract the Salamanders to the area.

Taken during the day is a rare thing for me to find them out. Usually not enough bugs out for them to attack. They go deep in the white season going torpid from the cold. Suspended animation.

An ancient heritage: Their development in the Late Carboniferous Period. An “Ancestor” started gulping shallow breaths of air with primitive lungs somewhere along the line. Eogyrinus (dawn tadpole) was a thin Crocodile (ish) critter that was fairly big at 15 feet in length. Modern Amphibians are distantly related to those early forms. The early paleontological developmental history is the topic of some debate not for this forum.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

TItle: Tiger Salamander Show Down

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Jane Doe Just Amazed

Jane Doe Just Amazed
Jane Doe Just Amazed

Jane Doe Just Amazed

Or “Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin”.

I am pretty sure there are 100 narratives that could apply to this face. Priceless. I find deer are quite expressive in their looks. Eyes open wider with interest. Ears are like radar to the deer. They can hear you hick-up from 100 yards out. This taken out in one of our corrals which has been un-grazed this year but for the deer. I was standing in my “front” yard within our “deer resistant” fence line. That corral has a water tank that we keep open 24/7/365 for anybody that needs a sip. Nearby gullies provide cover and the huge fields of grass a source of food.

The Mom has already had her fawns (in the corral with her). She just looks pregnant being well fed around the house. She just filled up with water too. They are not stressed up here. They scamper off pretty quickly if so. We have a hoop greenhouse not 50 feet away full of goodies but the 7 foot high electric fence tends to keep most creatures out. Only the creatures that know how to operate the gate, can fly over and grasshoppers get in there. :(. IT’s been a tough grasshopper year on top of all the rest…. 😔

While this is a telephoto image on a high end camera, I do keep game trail cameras by that water tank in this “enclosure” however… I’m about to check them after 3 months so stay tuned for several deer families with fawns. Most mornings very early I see small groups of deer come and go from that water tank. There should be hundreds of good captures.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Jane Doe Just Amazed