This is a Game Trail Camera capture from one of my favorite locations. Several game trails all lead to this choke point. Everybody has to climb the hill to get out of the wash / deep gully system here. The trail is well marked and well beaten for a backcountry path.
A young Whitetail deer Buck stopped to investigate a morsel just below him when he triggered the camera. He could have stepped about another two feet higher up on the slope though lol. His coat is shedding seriously with the suble lighter tan thick winter coat falling away. The leaves the more reddish tan undercoat. White tail have NO black on their tail. This is the easiest way to tell the from Mule Deer. They are entirely different animals. I know the difference well and occasionally mis-identify a species.
The knobs he is sprouting on his forehead will develop into full fledged antlers within the summer. The skin coating is termed “Velvet”. This supplies the growing bone of the antler a rich supply of blood to nourish such rapid growth. This was taken in Early May. I often go months without revisiting camera remote to anywhere lol. I occasionally find one I forgot about too but fortunately I usually think the same way twice about location. After all the only real control you have over your game trail automatic camera is WHERE you put it.
Taken closely within the group as it passed next to a well planted quality Game Trail Camera. I hadn’t checked this particular camera for a few months. Having said that, this capture is fairly recent in early June. The Whitetail here all have fat cheeks full of things to chew on in this timeline. There are other captures of course but this one best suited me. I like images looking over the shoulder of a close animal to others in the group. It’s very tricky to do with a telephoto but this Game trail camera did a great job of it for me lol. I love this shot
Whitetail are not easy to approach in my experience. I’ve never been able to penetrate a Whitetail herd with my rig. (work right in the middle of a deer herd surrounded by animals) I have been surrounded by a herd of Mule Deer Several times working them from all angles up close and personal with telephotos at 20 feet. So I’m happy to get inside this herd if only with an automatic camera. This is as close to a Whitetail deers Point of View (POV) as you can get I’m fairly sure.
This deep forested wash we find ourselves in here drains about 300 acres. It can get flashy floods rarely. Generally I would term this gully LUSH based on local standards. The soil is rich in the bottoms here. Mineral grains of sand from the Cretaceous River Deposits eroded down from the hills plus a bit of wind blown glacial Loess (Google word for the day).
The Beautiful White Tail Buck was walking down a steep trail 10 feet from where I planted a quality 30 megapixel Game Camera. For some reason this camera take wonderful images in this forested gully time and time again. I wouldn’t move it for anything lol. It has given me more fine images than any other game trail camera in my arsenal. I looked through over 9000 images to find the several dozen good images in the timeline. Several thousand were of grass and trees blowing in the winds up here. Even in a sheltered treed gully, 30 mph sustained winds for hours can rack up several shots a minute lolol. Moving vegetation will trigger the game camera.
This location has seen Foxes, Coyotes, Mule Deer, Whitetail as here, skunks, porcupine, raccoons and Bobcats captured on the automatically triggered cameras. I currently am running a network of 29 cameras which I maintain and check periodically. “Periodically” being the key word as it might take me up to 6 months to get back to a camera at times. This one was out there for two months without checking it. The grass grew during the time I planted the camera and the time this image was taken lol. This trail cam has been the best performer of the group. Location, Location, Location is the key in Game Trail Cameras. It’s one of the few things you have any control of with the automatic system.
I’ve seen a lot of various looks from Mule Deer before. Few this precious as from this doe. It is obvious her look was annoyance with me. I’m patient though and tend to wait out such attitude. It wasn’t long before she was back grazing with the group around her exhibiting normal deer behavior. They more or less are accepting my Black Ford Raptor as just another Big Smelly Black Angus moving across the Prairie. I seldom scare the local wildlife or push them intentionally. I have found that if you pressure wildlife, they will run from you next time you see them. So for me to get really close to the wild inhabitants of Wyotana, I have to be very respectful of personal space.
Most of the Does are VERY pregnant this time of year. The wheel of life is turning seemingly with a quickening in the late spring. The quantity of newborns born at one time assures a new generations. Deer have a few predators up here but human’s riding their machinations account for the majority of deer fatalities. In the two decades I’ve driven extensively in deer/pronghorn country, only a few over a dozen deer have been “hit” by our families cars. Less than one a year average. We have never filed an insurance claim from a deer impact.
Having discovered early on putting a custom made front bumper / crash bar/ deer bumper on any vehicle that will support it is necessary. Cars… no reason to put a 500+ pound chunk of steel on a Toyota lol. The pickups and SUV’s that we own are all graced with a significant steel front end. Hitting a deer at 60 mph or so is no fun certainly for the driver OR the deer. Bright bright bright headlights help too. Being able to see a 1300 pound Black Angus at night on a gravel road is a good thing if you are traveling. Cleaning a deer you hit at speed off your vehicle takes a while. Trust me on this. My son lost a passenger Mirror from swishing past a deer. They do hit you in the side sometimes ☺️
The Annual Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Synchronized Fence Jumping competition (BDRSFJC) is well under way. Last fall we had the tri-outs for the follow up event in the spring. This spring event is much larger usually and involves more animal diversity than the late fall meet. I give the deer in the foreground a 9.5 for form. 9.2 for jumping together…
This group doesn’t quite have the synchronize part figured out yet and doubtfully will make the final cut. Boy are these guys shedding with tuffs of hair falling off each one. Shaggy to say the least. Perfectly healthy.
BDRSFJC is an all “Ungulate” (google the last term) event. I expect some Whitetail to try out but their team failed to show up YET AGAIN !!!. Some creatures just can’t keep to a schedule. This is the second time this year they Whitetails have bailed from a major try out. Now the Pronghorns don’t even like jumping over fences. I read where they can jump 14 feet high but my memory fails sometimes, that might be wrong. 👅
Back to my normal (ish) programming:
I have around 100 good images of deer jumping over fences. This MIGHT be the only triple deer in the air I have in my portfolio. I don’t recall clicking on another with 3 in the air at the same time. I do have a couple of double captures.
I’m considering putting in a synchronized swim tryout down by the lake. We’ll see if those whitetail show up for that.. 😜📸
As I surprised her as I came up out of a valley. To the table top of this broad ridge I was traveling. This deer wasn’t familiar with my Ford F-150 Raptor . It is suprisingly stealthy for carrying a 470 HP power plant on board. The low and throaty moping sound is now familiar to close deer groups. I pass many everyday that hang out near my homestead. I would be hard pressed to make those deer familiar with me to even look up from grazing upon my proper approach. This girl became definitely intimidated by my presence (through no action of my own I point out lolol). She bolted like I threw something at her, clearing the fence efficiently.
Deer can jump 8 feet high but I find 6 feet more realistic . I have an 8 foot electric fence surrounding my Homesteads Compound surrounding about 10 acres. All of the ranches human, dog, duck, chicken and cats live inside that area. The rest of the critters get the remaining 3490 acres to wander. Before I put up our deer “resistant” fence, many thousands of dollars of attempted landscape projects were devoured with passion. The only deer that have penetrated our defenses in the last several years have been shown the gate they came in on. They are quickly detected by the dogs which don’t leave the compound lol. Now the young deer don’t know the green grass paradise right over the wire. Thusly there isn’t as much pressure to penetrate the barrier now.
I strongly suggest electric fence to keep deer out of your homestead . Particularly when surrounded by herds of deer that water on your stock tanks lolol.
Brown Season twilight landscapes are always dark, some are more colorful than others. When the veil of clouds is heavy, the shade and hues become muted with the encroaching dusk. Unfettered light causes an entirely different result… here, browns are in full display. I spend a lot of time working twilight skies/landscapes and find them challenging to reproduce accurately. It would be very easy to turn up the sky colors but I’m trying really hard to be a photorealist. This is as close as I can get this to how I experienced the scene. I find that an infinite spectrum of variable twilight exists and are mostly “capturable” with the right gear.
A majority of photographers wouldn’t finish this image I’m thinking. Having said that, I’m all about subtle tones and hues that escape view by most. The cool air of the twilight, the movement of game in the distance, the quickening of the light fleeing the scene is always breathtaking to me. Huge long landscapes (40 miles) make for an appropriate venue for this end of a day capture.. All creatures great and small getting ready for the night are all in their own world. Anticipating the washing away of the brown by spring rains to expose the green that is forthcoming. Seasons change, days come and go, but the animals seen to survive the hardships with an ever optimistic outlook toward the next day and the next meal.
Lining Deer UP from hundreds of yards away against the setting sun is an exercise in understanding topography. By working parallel ridges I get to stay hundreds of yards away from the casual deer. not alert the deer and am still able to get far enough away to catch a foreground object in focus for three layers of image here.
I only get to have the planets align like this a few times a year. I only had one opportunity this year to have deer pose for me in front of such a show. Images like this are infrequent in their occurrence for me to work. In reality this is going on all the time, there just isn’t anyone there to take the photo. Getting into the right position for this is a lucky event.
I have known these two bucks for a few years and because aware of their tendency to walk this ridge an hour before sunset. They were on their way from their grass pasture to the water hole on the other side. Almost every day these two walked this ridge like clockwork. Following the same trail daily These two are still around. I’m not sure exactly where yet as it’s early in the year and their antlers help me ID them sometimes…. The Backcountry is challenging to get back into at the moment. MUD!! I see them both on game trail cameras near the water holes we keep open. The closest running water which is some distance from this high ground.
The mother deer/fawn were aware of my presence and I of theirs. She took the initiative upon my presentation of a long lens out of my vehicles window. Getting deer to cooperate with me in the backcountry where I come into their domain is difficult at times. Finding myself down slope with a deer family ridge lined between me and the sun is less than a common event. Though I must admit that my travels tend to promote such encounters. I’m thinking they weren’t quite as thrilled as I was lol.
The fawn here with mother leading caught in a during a later golden hour. Earlier they were up higher on the ridge watching the sun go down with me. I was able to maneuver way below them set up about 200 yards out and Click JUST as they started moving lolol. ….
She is pregnant of course with this years new fawn. The yearling trailing will be cut loose as soon as the birth occurs. Then it will be on it’s own…There is a whole little deer melodrama playing out pretty much all year but you really have to watch and pay attention to see it happening. These yearling start small and work their way up the ladder to eventually run a small herd of gals.
Disclaimer: To say this was a very bright scene would be an understatement. The human eye couldn’t have looked at this for more than a fraction of a second. Certainly don’t try this with your DSLR camera. I use mirrorless full frame cameras that won’t blind you as your watching video with no straight to your eye light path. Some mirrorless cameras could get a spot melted on their chips if they aren’t rated for this so know your gear. I use Sony alpha 7 of various models with no problem. Just never even point a mirrorless camera into the sun without maximum f-stop for the lens selected as a starter. Don’t fry your eyes or your gear pointing a camera into the sun please.
With all the cold weather lately, this image came to mind that spring isn’t that far away. Spring 2019… Bedded Deer Bucks chewing what ever goodies they regurgitated. … yumm… The grass that time of year is a wonderful brown/green color, the deer have all new coats. Their rapidly growing antlers are covered with the capillary blood vessel rich “Velvet” covering the bone under supplying it with nutrients.
Sometime later in the year they antlers will stop growing. The velvet starts to itch and they will rub those antlers tearing the velvet to ribbons. They will rub on any bush or tree unlucky enough to be in their path. Deer rubs on trees are good signs of deer activity and you can usually tell how recent they were.
Reminder: Photographic Musings (memorize this)
Terms you need to know: (F-stop) is your aperture size. The size of the “pupil” inside your lens. Big pupils (low fstop numbers) lets in a lot of light but your depth of focus is thin and shallow. (the eye is in focus but your ears are not). With a high F-stop number, you get a very deep field of focus/depth of field. The whole face and the trees behind the face are all in focus. This is because a high f-stop number makes a very small pin hole for a “pupil” in your lens.
F-stop is one of three settings you adjust in Manual mode. It is a double edged sword, deeper focus field comes from having a small aperture “pupil” which means less light. Light is what your balancing here. The other two settings (ISO and Shutter Speed) compensate for what your doing with f -stop in this case.
Here we are at the 20th annual fence jumping try outs here at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. It has become an annual affair since I moved here. We have a good attendance at the event. Jumpers high and last minute crawlers rule the field. Being a tight new fence, most chose over as their path.
They weren’t panic’d, Taking their time, waiting patiently one, then the next. All walked away when all had cleared the obstacle. These same deer have seen my rigs all year and could care less if I was there as long as I stay in the vehicle lolol. A few minutes later the sun would have been setting behind where they were but alas the timing was not to be.
They don’t like the human form much..🤔 I’m trying to decide who “Won” the height title over the timeline of all of them jumping, I think the deer in this image wins…. The smaller deer left of the jumper likely to got a rash from the last jump. She was very hesitant to go and balked several times lolol.
Big Male Mule Deer go to 330 pounds and the females go to 200 pounds. The are actually indigenous to North America and are known by those distinctive “Mule” shaped ears. The hear extremely well with those big ears. I suspect they use their sense of smell way more though to detect danger. These guys are herbivores so they are survivors of what ever killed all the MegaFauna during the Pleistocene 11000 years ago.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch about 50 feet from the Montana/Wyoming border
This kind of capture is why I run a network of high quality game trail cameras (29 currently) to catch some of the inhabitants of my ranch in a more candid way. I watched this MeadowLark time and time again land on this post with animals crossing the funnel this gate creates. This one is the best by far. Pure infra-red Game Trail Camera capture in a very early twilight environment.
Each game trail camera (GTC) image is problematic from a professional photo finishing standpoint. Let’s just say these images from the GTC take a while in the digital darkroom to get them to my current standards lol. The problem with Game cameras on automatic is I have no real control over the lighting adjustment. Low med and high lolol.
Apparently it just got this below that low light threshold and was still in black and white. The only parameters you can control with most game trail cameras is 3 levels of exposure and IR sensitivity for detection of animal movement. Placement of the camera…. I find this is by far the most important thing. Composition of the shot and having a funnel or attraction to have the animals go to where the camera is actually pointing is the baby. Set up those wildlife funnels.
Have a great evening this Tuesday night and be safe out there. It’s an interesting world you guys live in.
These 5 were caught in early twilight. These deer were up watching the sun go down with me. They were ridge lined and I was able to maneuver way below them about 100 yards out and Click…. I know this this grouppretty well as they are seen almost every sunset walking between their grazing area and one of my water troughs. We keep that water available all year (for the last 20).
They are pretty used to me being around but are still quite wild. They don’t come down to greet me you might say but I can get pretty close if the conditions are right….. As long as I stay in my vehicle anyway.
There is a whole little deer melodrama playing out pretty much all year but you really have to watch and pay attention to see it happening.
Remember F-stop? It was very low light. To freeze them in space and time, you need at least 1/200th second for a walking deer. You either give up F-stop (depth of focus) or ISO (camera sensitivity) I gave up f-stop as the detail in the sky behind wasn’t critical….. Though it was sure impressively fully involved with the long wavelenths that made it through the atmosphere. Getting a longer depth of focus is what F-stop does along with either letting in more light or taking it away with higher F-stop numbers.
A little out of season but it helps me to keep the spring in perspective. This last winter was 6 months long. It started Oct 1, 2019 and is just ending here in early May. Green Grass is upon us.
Taken 2019, this image has been sitting around in a “To Do” folder for about 6 months. I’ve got older images than that to finish. Job security on those days when you don’t quite have enough newly taken images that are worthy of your or my time. There have been a lot of ‘clear sky’ days of late which I tend not to work very much. This particular day was an exception however.
The Grass was totally coated with Rime snow and frosted beyond my normal experience. The Buck was in rut thusly pursuing the doe scenting the air actively at the time. Generally the temperature was up among all the bucks hormones flowing freely in the air.
The fairy tail landscape was so bright that even the sparkles in the foreground appear muted by comparison. The “reflectivity” of the landscape was about as high as I’ve ever seen it that morning. The effect is not as obvious here in this capture but to call this a sunglasses moment would be appropriate. I was trying to capture the sparkles in the foreground and had to keep the exposure dark (ish) to show them off. They were phenomenal to me at the time.
White Tail Deer Get their name from an obvious anatomical attribute. They are much more gracile than Mule Deer which co-inhabit these environs. To me it always appears that these ungulates are walking “Tippy Toes” across the road lol.
I’m assuming the same old answer of “to get to the other side” applies to the classic question. I was able to anticipate their walking across the road in front of my Ford Raptor as I was traveling. I was able to stop and turn at a right angle to the roadway to give me a full side view out both my window at their future path. Sure enough they continued on and gave me the pregnant single mother “shot” of the morning. The buck apparently was no where to be found 😔. Single motherhood is a way of life in the ungulate world. The bucks are all off at some boys club hanging out together all summer. Like a nightly card game except it’s 24-7 until the rut… 😜📷
This pair is of course a pregnant mother (left) and her yearling (right). The mother is still a month or so away from giving birth I’m thinking. They were traveling alone in the backcountry when I came along. They felt it was necessary to run in front of me instead of completely away from the road.. Whitetail Deer are not as bad as Pronghorn for running in front of your vehicle but worse than Mule Deer in my experience 👁👁
I was following this group for a while. They were not terribly concerned. The herd was moving from grazing pasture to a water tank about a mile distant from where they were feeding. I find they tend not to wander too far from their water. This “gang” is about 1/3rd males, 1/3 pregnant females and 1/3 yearlings. All of the males are just now in velvet with fairly new antler buds coming in. The largest set of antlers in this group is about 4 inches long. Those horns will grow rapidly over the next month or two.
There were a few more stragglers spread out behind the group off frame with 20 total in this group. Only 15 in the frame as my telephoto will only pull back so far. I’m thinking this was 300 yards out as I recall the scene from my position of being left behind by a fenceline I couldn’t cross. The sun had JUST popped over the ridge. The shadows were very long and what stood out more than the deer to me was their shadows. If this were only on snow lolol. (better shadows but I’d sure like the extra water going into a dry year already 😔.)
The Deer herd up in the late fall just after rut through mid spring which is just now happening. Then they break up into smaller groups soon. Finally small groups does with fawns. Boys Clubs of buck only buddies form quickly. Only to regroup again later in the fall again. It’s all a cycle over and over again. I’ve watched this numerous times over the years… Rinse and Repeat.
This White Tail Deer doe was literally moving out. Running with a small group racing across the road in front of my truck. Caught here just as she came over the road hump to run into the compression of the ditch. The physics of this moment caused my eyes to widen. I’d be plowing into the far bank of the ditch…. Not this little gal…
Seeing the situation develop ahead of time, I managed to pull a 45 degree turn in the road while stopping. This gave my lens a clear field of view to the group. Having only a few seconds, I’m known to have cameras pre-set up for the lighting of the moment. This was very early in the morning just a few minutes after the sun cleared the high ridge over my right shoulder.
Whitetail turn this wonderful light tan color in the spring. The shedding of their winter fur is mostly over and a silky look is the rule for healthy animals. I really don’t see a lot of Whitetail up here. I seldom can get close to them as they are WAY spookier than Mule Deer. I’ve heard that when Whitetail move into an area, the Mule Deer move out. I see the Whitetail leave each winter migrating to lower climates in the drainage. The Mule Deer overwinter in this high ridge grass prairie having the whole ranch to themselves for 7 months of the year.
A mere 10 months ago, this Mule Deer Buck was crossing the road “to get to the other side” (according to “Sneaky Pete” the windmill). The Sweet Clover was in bloom, the bees were filling their hives with honey from it. The 4 year old buck was just starting to grow his antlers which already have a 5×5 configuration.
I know this buck as “Tweeddle Dee” because I’ve seen him do a Tweedle Dumb thing or two over the last few years lol. He also has perfect ears meaning he’s a lover not a fighter. I’ve been watching this boy grow up for the forth year now. He’s almost respectable now, has grown and generally is very receptive to posing.
I’ve been “working around” this guy for several years now and he is pretty tolerant of me. I have to be slow in what I do with my vehicles as with any wild animal. IT’s all about getting your rig to act like a grazing animal. Stutter stop, start move 10 feet, “graze a while” move some more. You have to wait to move until their attention span lessens of their awareness of you. They go back to grazing. Wait a few seconds and move another 20 feet. Take your time.
I have worked my way into the middle of several different wild deer herds precisely doing the process above. You can’t just drive up in the middle of a group expecting them not to scatter like the wind. . They would misconstrue the quick approach as a hostile act. Only the other grazers can integrate into a deer herd. So there is an art to getting really close to any wild animal but I do stay in my rig. Getting out is a bad idea across the board. Making them used to the human form is counterproductive to their reproductive processes. I get them used to my vehicles. I never get out or push them ever. If I scared them routinely, it would be a hard thing to approach the next time.
Sometimes I actually have time during an encounter with wildlife to compose the image. The Ying and the Yang of this stood out “Biggly”. This gal was 50 feet above me and about 200 yards out. She was walking slowly unafraid of my presence. Then she paused and surveyed all that lay before her. This high ridge has AMAZING views off to where she is looking. I have to think that she is aware and appreciative of the vista I share with her daily. I believe to the depths of my soul that I have seen deer watch the sunset right along with me. Enjoying the whole show. I’m usually trying to get them between me and the sun lol. Occasionally I’m trying to be between them and the sun. Either way, I’m always maneuvering for the “angle” lolol. 📸
Certainly she is quite aware of her environment. Enhanced smell, excellent hearing with those big mule shaped ears with eagle eyes/excellent night vision. I’ve watched deer carefully as my photographic OCD brings me into close proximity with them regularly. They have “watched” me too lol. There is a certain amount of familiarity the local deer herds have to me and my vehicles. They are still wild have no misconception about that. They just think of me as another creature out here that has never done them any harm. A good photographer will never scare or ‘push’ the animals. You won’t get another chance to take their photo later if you do.
Catching any wild animal groups bedded on an early winter morning is a worthy attempt. Usually someone stands up and ruins the thought. I moved on after a few clicks and no one bothered to get out of their “warm” spot.
So can you see all 5 deer? I didn’t see them at all and I randomly stopped at a location. Looked down hill and there they were. I wasn’t being particularly stealthy at the time crunching snow with a big Black Ford Raptor. It might have stood out against the snow. Hard to know what these guys were thinking. I could have stayed there for 20 minutes. Well, I was in a warm truck and they were not so I probably could have out waited them lol.
Actually Staying for more than a few shots might have made them get up. It’s not a good policy to push deer out of a comfortable lounge chair. If someone did that to me, I’d be REALLY iffy about letting them get within camera range of me. I’m thinking they felt pretty good about their camo. I do have one good eye at least. They were invisible to me while I was moving. The minute I stopped, they stuck out like a sore thumb. Nice change really… usually I see something and HAVE to stop quickly with things rolling around the vehicle. Here I stopped oblivious to them lolol.
It is always better to lead than follow but it’s good to have options. An “illusion” of siamese deer. Of course this is photoshopped but I liked it enough to play with it to start with. So at any one time, one of them is the butt head in this universe? Now bear in mind here that “all work and no play makes Frank a Dull Boy”. (Now If I keep typing that page after page….. classical reference from a movie). Early spring time is always a mix of stubble and green in the hay fields. Up in the high grounds the muley eared deer do some strange things…
At any rate the deer were standing precisely in the right place for a siamese deer illusion. Admittedly, I was very sloppy with some of the cloning in this piece of ART. I built it more for fun than anything else. Over the years I’ve found a few images that meet the qualifications for this kind of work. (cartoon really). I try to work on them but perfection is a hard thing to achieve when I’m just playing around.
I still am building 4 images a day every day including photographing them. Writing this “book” that I’ve got almost 1400 pages done…..It’s a struggle at times but I keep busy and am full time working lol. These narratives are challenging by the end of the day but it’s never boring 😜
4 Deer, 3 Buttes, 2 Geese and 1 Winter Day in 2019 all got together for this family image.
The 4 Deer were minding their own business looking for tasty morsels in the stubble of the hay field. Food is the deers main concern. This followed closely by the hunt for open/moving water. Just 2 miles east of here, there is no ground water worth speaking of. Geology determines where we live…. No shallow water of as the geology under ground turns from Dinosaur Beach under my feet to impermeable Ocean shales. (Sharks Teeth and Cretaceous Reptiles/Cephalopods) ) . This ground though is sub-irrigated by that Cretaceous beach sand It actually serves as a HUGE subsurface water aquifer from Canada to New Mexico. Watering Millions with groundwater a little high in total dissolved solids… (usually mixed with other water). It outcrops and recharges here albeit slowly. (Fox Hill Sandstone.) Makes wonderful prairie land all those minerals AND water wicking up from below.
3 Missouri Buttes, volcanic conduits all punched up through all these older Dinosaur age sediments 40.5 million years ago. The Cretaceous They are a fixture peering south from northern Crook County Wyoming. Taken a few feet from the MT/WY border. Geologists see deeper than the surface of things of their mind. 👀⚒
2 Canada Geese overnighted on that hay stack. They were sleeping as I pulled up. Took a second to align this composition. What a bunch of characters all. I personally have never seen geese on a hay stack before but I don’t have a lot of hay stacks about my place.
On Wyotana Backroads.
Location: Montana/Wyoming border (Wyotana) , northern most Crook County Wyoming, southern most Powder River County Montana looking south.
This 18 inch square aspect capture is of the “Ideal” family of course. Papa behind his velvet covered antlers just starting to grow in the early spring. Momma next (with a bun in the oven). Last but not least is Junior, a yearling doe a splitting image of her mother but smaller. Yup, they see me but they went back to grazing in the fresh green rocket fuel (grass).. I had to make a noise to get them all to look up. After a few times, they ignore that lolol. By mid-late summer I’ll be working them from inside the herd. 📷📷
This small group and a few other spent the winter together near our homestead. They take advantage of the water troughs we keep open all year to stay up in this high ridge line ranch. It’s dry up here in the winter with little open or flowing water for their use. We keep 4 watering tanks open all winter up here for anyone that comes by.
All my deer encounters are random. They never know when I’m heading out and I don’t know where they are hanging out. They have a pretty good range this time of year. Quickly they can move a mile from where they were a mere 5 or 6 minutes before. Many of the deer that live around here recognize my vehicles. Certainly the vehicle is a mobile blind albeit a noisy/smelly one. No human form presents itself to the wildlife so by mid spring, they become accustomed to the black truck that moves like a Black Angus, appearing to be a grazer. If ever you decide to try to skirt deer or Pronghorn, you will figure out quickly that won’t work lol. Just approach like your eating grass, move a little, eat some more, rinse and repeat.
You will probably find where the Deer’s line in the sand is that way.
Merging together silhouettes will if the lighting is conducive for such. One of these guys is a “butt head” it seems…. Your choice as to which one 😜
The Alpenglow from the suspended Atmospheric Ice was the backdrop for this evenings stage play. As I move from one photographic opportunity to another working the light, I see many things. Some are worthy of your time so I point my photon capture boxes in that direction trapping a few.
I watched these guys watch the setting sun between my main job of taking snap shots of the actual sunset that night lol. Deer definitely check out the sunset. I’ve seen them do it. The evening progressed from blinding bright sunset to the right saturated tones of the twilight. The “boys” got back to the main business of finding tasty morsels on the hillside.
These two Spring antler growing bucks have their bony horns covered in “Velvet”. This time of year (about a month from now) is prime antler growth time. I actually have a smaller “Stag” buck up here that still has it’s antlers. HE’s an oddball though. Everyone else shed theirs in January as did these two. The grow back very quickly with a blood vessel rich “Velvet” skin nourishing the growing bone from the buttons on their skull cap.
Yes there is actually a small cave passing all the way under that boulder. One can crawl in there with all the other creepy things that might live in such a place if you had to get out of the weather. (from the other side lol). That hole is the back window with a view over my shoulder…
Well they were watching me at the time watch the sunset….😜📸 . I’m thinking the deer were more into the iced grass along our back fence. I had to make some noise to get them to look up lolol. This was the first sunlight in 4 days for any of us. It had been foggy for most of that interval resulting in a highly frosted environment. This happened March 16th, 2020. (A day I will remember as I discuss below. ) There wasn’t much snow left. We enjoyed having had some 50-60 degree days the week prior. Then it got overcast, the clouds moved down over our ridge and didn’t leave for 96 hours. I find it is difficult to find color in an overcast frosty environment. No photography for that interval.
The sun slit seen here was long but not very wide. This was just about the first photo I took that evening. I think it went down hill from there. I drove out into the backcountry looking for a better angle on this. Drove a few miles back in, it was getting dark and I got too hot in my gear. Immediately as I was on a 30 degree down slope crossing a gully system to gain altitude and angle across that gully, I got motion sick. Turned on like a switch it did.
Now this might have been a reaction to a meal but I am sensitive to motion at times. I was 3 miles into the back country, got hard motion sick and it was getting dark. I only had to stop 5 times lolol. Finally made it home….Slept it off and was fine the next day.
I see a variety of scenes driving the backcountry. This Mule Deer Buck caught in a mid- twilight Silhouette was up watching the sun go gown with me. He was ridge lined. I was able to maneuver way below him about 200 yards out and Click… Silhouettes of nice bucks are always welcome in my web gallery.
This Mule Deer Buck was definitely aware of me but yet tuned into the sunset. I find linking up deer with the moon (harder) and or the sun to be a challenge of finding the right topography that enables me to “work” the scene. In this case (all hand held camera shots walking across backcountry grassy, yucca, rocky terrain. Then moving as the deer and the sun moves. 800mm telephoto. I worked this deer and his partner for about 20 minutes which is about 400 clicks or so with several cameras ….Forever in my world….
The hard part is getting them to “look up” between bites when I’m about 300 yards away. They are usually on a parallel ridge. Of coruse they are used to me being on the prairie with a noisy ATV. He really was watching that sunset. I’ve seen them do it many times. I was lucky enough to wander into this kind of deer versus sun on a ridge 4 times last year and only once this year so far. Hit or miss on deer habits…..
These guys were busy grazing on the grass of this ridge when out of the blue, this big ball of fire came down between them. Separated by an apparently dangerous fireball, the rear buck realizes the problem. I’m sure he’s working out the solution to his separation anxiety. Deer take time to process unique situations so I caught him here deep in thought. 😜📷
Lining Deer UP from hundreds of yards away against the setting sun is an exercise in understanding topography. By working parallel ridges I get to stay hundreds of yards away from the casual deer. not alert the deer and am still able to get far enough away to catch a foreground object in focus for three layers of image here. I only get to have the planets align like this a few times a year. I only had one opportunity this year to have deer pose for me in front of such a show. Images like this are infrequent in their occurrence for me to work.
In reality this kind of image is going on all the time, there just isn’t anyone there to take the photo. Getting into the right position for this is a lucky event. I have known these two bucks for a few years and because aware of their tendency to walk this ridge an hour before sunset. They were on their way from their grass pasture to the water hole on the other side. Almost every day these two walked this ridge like clockwork. Following the same trail daily These two are still around. I’m not sure exactly where with the snows/mud of late. The Backcountry is challenging to get back into at the moment.
This capture caught these two young bucks standing on an old country school site. Bucks still with antlers…. (taken in January).
This is section 36 on the map of the local township. Every township has 36 square miles and is mapped by square mile sections. Section 36 is the state owned and controlled School section. Basically the law gives 1/36th of all land to the state automatically. I digress.
The little brown box to the right center of the photo, is the old oil burning stove that used to sit on the Trail Creek/Parks School. Generations of local kids went to school with this view out the back. I’ve heard stories of walking to school from those kids. There are people alive that went to that school. It is physically located about 2 miles south from our homestead as the crow flies. The building that was removed has a few signs it was there.
Other evidence, : the latent archeologist in me…
The aforementioned stove itself is an interesting antique. I’ve worked it with cameras but never liked what I got. I’ll get back to it sometime with the right light… but there are concrete foundations from that old school building, not huge and they looked like they were hand poured. Someone with a small mixer and bags kind of foundations….say 1930’s….. Those concrete chunks were pushed over the lip of and into a nearby gully where they serve as a rock which are currently being slowly naturalized by the environment. Evidence of past lives and events that will mostly be lost to history but they leave clues. It would be interesting to work this site with a metal detector eh? …
Location: just south of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
This was an attempt to get together a backcountry soccer game but there was no crowds in the cheap seat, or the stadium for that fact but me.
Upon arriving at the venue, hearing that it’s not good to be in groups of more than 5. This of course because of the Corona Virus, the Antelope ran away. The intimidating behavior /show of force of the deer herd of course was obvious. It demonstrated the military bearing of the group. Intimidation won the day here. The Pronghorn were awarded the loss. The Deer team, awarded the win for the opposing teams failure to take the field.
Back to my normal programing
Late summer 2019 when the Pronghorn were still around. They migrate about 30 miles to the south every winter and currently are absent as this posts. I will see them within the month I would think. It depends on how late the big spring snows are. The deer winter over hanging out somewhere near the water holes we keep open for them.
There are actually two parallel trails that the deer are walking on. I point out was pure coincidence for the alignment. They continued on up the hill quite a ways like this. I just took photos and tried to keep my jaw out of the way. I’ve never seen deer make a formation before lolol.
To capture this image, I luckily figured out that these guys traveled this particular ridge at the same time every day (roughly). I had to be in a position far enough away to get both the sun and the deer in focus under f-64 with this particular telephoto. I also had to be on a parallel ridge that let me climb up backwards up the slope to keep up with the sun setting. The sun of course always cooperates with me. 😜📸
I usually get a few attempts at ridge lining a deer or a group of deer right at sunset. The problem is always how to keep up with the moving sun. The topography controls the success or failure of such adventures.
Disclaimer: To say this was a very bright scene would be an understatement. The human eye couldn’t have looked at this for more than a fraction of a second. Certainly don’t try this with your DSLR camera. I use mirrorless full frame cameras that won’t blind you as your watching video with no straight to your eye light path. Some mirrorless cameras could get a spot melted on their chips if they aren’t rated for this so know your gear. I use sony alpha 7 of various models with no problem. Just never even point a mirrorless camera into the sun without maximum f-stop for the lens selected as a starter. Don’t fry your eyes or your gear pointing a camera into the sun please.