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.
Corriente’ Cattle have been on the ranch since 2012. We have Black Angus too but these guys are much more photogenic. Something about the horns that gives them a western look.
Fully covered skies where I catch any animal that I can silhouette are automatically better by their inclusion. I would indicate that everybody was looking at this sunset that evening. I’m sure that even the glutton on the right took a few seconds between chews to enjoy this vision. It was hard not to notice this sky show. It stands out in all that I have seen as pretty impressive….
This can only happen during a totally overcast evening with thin / spotty enough clouds to allow the light to get under the canopy. A cool night, this particular evening was very moist with alpenglow rife to provide this colorcast to the show.
Bear in mind that this is a long range telephoto shot so the area of the sky wasn’t as big as this perspective would have you believe lol. Telephotos crush perspective and you never know how big an area of sky you are seeing. This frame covers an area of sky about the size of a postage stamp at arms length at the horizon. It’s a mind bender I think. This was a good night for images as this held on for 10 minutes anyway. That gave me plenty of time to get around… Click …
This one almost slipped through my fingers. I had it finished about 3 weeks ago and had positioned it for publishing. It fell through the cracks. Yup, we’ve had smoke for roughly the last month. So if you think I’ve published a LOT of smokey scenes lately you are correct. The color making it through the Pall is unparalleled in my experience. Every terminator crossing of late has been smoked to various degrees. This year certainly has had some highlights.
The fence line on the right is the Wyoming/Montana border. Exactly 1/2 way between the North Pole and the Equator at 45 degrees north latitude. Both states are in the photos. I’m often in one state or the other taking captures across that imaginary line. We are actually only a hundred miles from the exact geographic center of North America just over in South Dakota. It’s fairly hard to get further from fresh ocean seafood. It’s the one thing I miss living up here. The Red Lobster in Rapid City is a supply chain miracle lolol.
I am standing right under the Blue Herons nesting/rookery here on ranch. The line of Cottonwoods on the dam here provide them a high mostly covered nesting site. It was a tough year weather wise on them with a wind storm blowing down several nests. Then the big hail storm….. Then another wind storm….. I suspect they will be back.
I have accumulated a series of right turn signs photobombing objects near, far behind or on them I’m trying to take a photo of. The series name came from the Orangutan star in the early 1980’s Clint Eastwood Movie “Any Which Way You Can”. Having lived in Jackson Hole for the Decade of the 90’s, it was a classic to watch locally and see the familiar sites. The Great ape when told to “Right Turn Clyde”, would throw his hand out to the right, usually into somebodies jaw. That person typically needed a good punch in the story.
The lighting was silly hard to do this with. It took a tripod to get enough depth of focus to capture this. Telephoto of course from some distance back. It’s the only way to do this. The settings are highly variable depending on how much light you have. The more the better. There wasn’t much here to collect in my photon capture boxes.
As a photorealist, I reproduce images dark if it was dark out. That sun was as dim as a candle in the window across the street. IT was in the process of being snuffed out like that candle by the cloud bank behind the Pall of Smoke. Neutral grey light background and just a bit of light from my truck on the sign. Those surfaces are holographic at times. Messes with your camera big time lol.
Milling about, generally moving a bit to the north, the group was grazing a little. generally they were uneasy but I don’t think it was me they were upset about. I find that groups of these guys are the definition of jumpy lol. This perspective is through a long lens camera sideways. I’m well outside their “line in the sand” that get’s them nervous. I was stopped, engine off. Watching them for about 5 minutes at this point. It was more like they were waiting for something to happen. Maybe me moving on… hard to know.
That last ridge is known as “The Red Hills”. This was taken a few weeks ago as this posts. Still at the very beginning of some lighter smokey days. It got WAY worse later the next day. The normally crystal clear view to the “Red Hill’ turned to haze by the massive fires out west.
Visibility was 10 miles tonight as I worked the smokey sunset again driving ridges in the backcountry. It’s getting close to dense fog kind of visual occlusion as I type this. The air is just plain unhealthy. I’m not sure if “Clever Girl” even likes it. Might have to change the air filter sooner driving around in this forest fire soup. The sun disappeared tonight long before it hit the horizon. The surface smoke totally obscuring the solar disk. It was last seen around “Sneaky Pete” tonight.
Another name is “Crown” Sky. This is the second image I’ve posted from this timeline. This is the widest lens I have. The top of the frame is past straight up (over 90 degrees tall). These “Crepuscular Rays are actually over my head from the horizon. This is a first for me. I’ve never seen one this big before. It literally covered 1/2 of the sky. I figure this is about 1/4th of the sky as it continued over head quite a way.
Unfortunately there were no “Anticrepuscular” rays on the other side of the sky associated with this or I would have done the whole sky as a mosaic dome with 5 or 6 images from this lens. Still this was an awe inspiring display to witness. It lasted a good 1/2 hour too so it’s not like I don’t have options regarding image choices lol. Several hundred clicks were heard in proximity to this event from my place.
The different images each reflect the constantly changing dance of clouds blocking the rays. It’s not rays lighting up the sky, it’s shadows not lighting up part of the sky you note as distinctive. Without the shadow of the cloud tops, you would be looking at a uniformly illuminated smoke screen. That acting like a projector screen from that bright bulb. Otherwise, everything would be lit up . This is all about shadows of that big cloud above the sun.
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.
This is the way my camera recorded this trip up to ridge one this AM. I was interrupted at the first ridge by a herd of Pronghorn feeding there. That took a few minutes but they were patient with me and no matter how strange the lighting, I’ll photograph Pronghorn up close. No indication they were here in this capture. Up the hill I headed.
This was my establishment shot for just starting to take images that morning. I was late getting up the hill this morning so the sun had some time to rise above the ridge top. I have been working both sunrise and sunset photographically for the last week (14 in a row). It’s starting to wear and tear but one has to work when there is light. Well I would indicate that this is a very one subject but very interesting light environment. As long as the smoke pall is over us, I will be working these sunrises and sunsets.
This is what I saw through the camera lens. I can adjust the exposure but this is no “filter” photography as it were. I couldn’t actually look at this so who is to say it’s not what was actually there. The human eye wouldn’t like looking at even that heavily smoke filtered sun for long. It’s not good for you.
I’m looking at the cloud cover this evening on “Weather Wall”™. It shows the smoke pall very well. Might be clearing for this sunset. Planing where to go is a good thing.
Dramatic occluded sunsets are typically dark. I present this dark because it was lolol. . It’s the color I was after in the highlights. It was dark enough that the dynamic range (DR) of the camera was apparent. The lack of DR there of is my point I’m thinking. My eye could discern much more detail in this lighting environment. There is a point. When the full sized sun popping through a thin slit on the horizon. Is effective already down. More of a candle light than the furnace it would be with the cloudy obfuscation. Most images would have a completely black / silhouette landscape in this light. Cameras dynamic range is lacking compared to the human eye. There are some that are better than most others lol. Give the technology a few years
There is a LOT of detail in the landscape buried in the “black” . Most of the ground here is 400 feet or so below the hill I chose to climb that evening. Driving up these hills can be challenging, but then the sun goes down and your still up the hill…..😜 One of the few disadvantages of “Clever Girl” versus my old Jeep Grand or even my Polaris Crew Ranger is being able to see over that big hood. IT does have a camera up there though…… 📷 It is also a full foot wider than my Jeep Grand Cherokee so fitting between trees I used to fit through becomes a considered thought process lolol.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana Title: Good Evening All
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 :(.
When one of these Mesocylcones moves over you, the understanding of how insignificant our concerns are compared to the scale of a storm such as this. This storm was 80 miles to our north and certainly covered parts of 3 states. I’m taking the photo from Wyoming looking northeast toward Ekalaka Montana not far from the triple border area of Montana/South Dakota/North Dakota.. That is very close to the exact geographic center of the North American Continent coincidentally.🤔 (Factoid out of the blue).
I had followed this storm around a while working the light here just as the last gasps of the light of day skiffs off the hill tops. A complex cloud system 360 degrees surrounding me made for an interesting evening. Focusing here on the “backshow” of the main show over my left shoulder. Looking here to the northeast near Rockypoint Wyoming. I’m pretty sure a lot of people saw this show about 10 days before this posts. My current time from click to publishing is around that interval this summer.
I photograph a lot of weather systems these days. I couldn’t ask for a better time of day with the lighting that night. Note the top of the storm is white with blue sky. That is unfiltered light. The lower part of the storm is illuminated by the same red light skiffing off the hilltops. The late “Golden Hour” red colorcast is related to the “Belt of Venus” alpenglow colors but the cloud is the projecting screen. In true “Belt of Venus” colorcast the projector screen is ice in the atmosphere not clouds. It’s the same type of light though, all filtered of it’s shorter wavelengths of indio blue and green. Only orange through red survive to be reflected to my lenses. The colors here are true to the scene I saw. It got a LOT redder later in this timeline. The lower in the cloud, the longer through the atmosphere the light had to travel. Stay tuned for those later images. Brilliant orange stuff… 📷
Location: The Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming, 10 miles from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
As the late summer / early fall progresses into full brown season. I still see just a stripe of green (ish) across the middle of this large field of stunted grown grass.
The Pronghorn Herd traversing the grassy field were in a moderate hurry. I find that as a group, they are synergistically more jumpy than a single animal. Even individual mothers with fawns are easier to approach than a herd. If just ONE of the animals doesn’t like what they see… One jumps and all go. Them deciding which is might as well be random. I’m assuming the presence of my truck traveling down the gravel road 400 yards out spooked them. They were running parallel to me, not the other direction. They eventually race to cross the road in front of me as I had to stop to catch this. 4 wheel disk breaks on 35 inch tires stop pretty quickly but the truck takes a few seconds to dampen down the rock back from the stop.
As soon as the truck slowed down, the Pronghorn must have perceived a sign of weakness. They instantly turned to run in front of my truck. I’m thinking they were just showing off. Nothing like being the fastest animal in North America. I’ve clocked them at close to 50 before. Hard to tell exactly. I’m sure someone got one on a radar gun. The official record is 61mph. A cheetah can max out at 80. Good things there are no cheetah’s left in North America after the Megafauna die off after the last ice age. Climate changes in the past…
Speaking of weather: (Like that segue??)😜 Locally, the warmest June or July in a long time. Very dry as well with only .6 inches of rain in June. A lot of the country is a tinderbox as those in California know all too well. Last summer was wet and lush through late August. Wyotana Bi-Polar climate…. Remember that ALL climate is local. The earth has no climate. It has all climates. Multiple personalities as it were….🤔
There are many landmarks on the moon. Each has it’s own exotic name. Sometimes named after historic figures, others Latin. The Huge Tycho Crater with it’s star field of ejecta radiating outward. It’s a bright part of the moon on the left . That left would be east in our sky and west on the moon……… 🤔 It is named after Tycho Brahe. ……. How in the Heck does one get the most prominate crater on the moon’s face officially named after you? 😜
This is a setting moon. Tycho Crater is on the left side Tycho would be on the south end of the moon (our south too) if it were a rising moon. It’s not the moon rotating at night, it’s us. 🤔 👀
Turns out Tycho was an interesting guy worth of the research as I side track here………. He was a Danish “Nobelman” which means he was connected certainly lol. More important to science were his contributions at the infancy of optics looking at Astronomy (Up Close and Personal). Known as an Astrologer, he made EXTENSIVE astronomical observations. He set the idea that the moon orbits the earth in motion. He had recognized the planets orbited the sun. Sort of got wrong the part about the sun orbiting the earth.
Notably, he was endowed with a silver nose. So goes the story. Lost the tip in a sword fight. Scientists were WAY more interesting back then lolol. Dangerous world around 1600 AD. No lab coats I suspect. No safety Glasses no regulations, no warning labels saying “caution: coffee might be hot”. He was an “alchemist as well. Let’s mix this with that and see what happens… Died 1601 at the age of 55…. Who knows what he got into lolol.
You can just see some sculpting on the moons edges demonstrating just a little atmospheric distortion that night. Taken using terrestrial glass… 1200mm.
Location: Somewhat west (on earth) above the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
Setting is the Trail Creek Drainage, 3700 feet elevation, grasslands with trees around the homesteads (ranch headquarters). Small ranches are 5 or so square miles with big ranches being 100 square miles in this region. Mixed terrain, grassland, woodland, river and lakes. A bit dry at 14 inches a year precipitation. 45 degrees north latitude or there about. Cattle Country big time with genuine lifetime long cowboys about with their stock trailers behind their pickups.
Ranches in this country have unusual things about their back yard. Using a long telephoto I crushed distance here. The homestead is about 2 miles distant from my camera. The Pronghorn Herd was about 1/2 of a mile out. This small gathering of Yard ornaments is a mixed batch. Fawns and Doe Pronghorn mix it up with the buck around somewhere grazing. He keeps them in line more or less until someone “more deserving” comes along for the job. They didn’t care about me. I was way outside their red line. They are jumpier as a group than they are singly by far.
The old Homestead has been remodeled and is very nice now. The original owner that lived there for decades just recently passed to an overlook position up on high. Loads of stories about that cowboy. He actually touched my son’s back with a brand by accident. It left a mark. Brandings get interesting sometimes lol. The wheel keeps spinning.
The folks running the place now store a “bit” of hay about as many cattle winter over on this range and get fed nearby. Bales are always of interest to local wildlife from small rodents to the Raptors and Canids that feed on them. I’ve seen numerous Red Fox around Hay Stacks in the past hunting mice. I could never sneak on on them though. They want nothing to do with a vehicle. You MIGHT get a long distance photo of a tail running away if your quick. Photographers that get eyebrow close fox photos have my respect lolol. (you know who you are 😜 )
Meanwhile out on the grassy prairie…. with a view… the 30 mile distance to the Red Hills looks crushed to just a few miles by the telephoto “distance effect”. I’ve always said that telephoto lenses “CRUSH” perspective. It certainly does here. From where I stand. There are 5 ridges (drainages) between that “tallest” ridge in the distance. The perspective here is misleading though.
The 3700 feet elevation I’m standing at is right at the same height as the lowest saddle between the big peaks in the distance. (furthest ridge. The ground I’m standing on is sloping downward about 400 feet over the next 10 miles to the Little Powder River valley. The big ridge? I wonder Why it’s called the “Red Hills”. It might be their generally brownish red color certainly. I’ve seen it scarlet in the red tinted morning light at times.
Mostly this red is from an abundance of generally reddish “Clinker” rock. Clinker is natures ceramic. It is formed at the boundaries of underground coal seam fires. The century’s long burn fires the coals surrounding clay layers into a porous ceramic. Lewis and Clark thought it volcanic in origin. They were wrong on that one. Oh the wonders they experienced. I believe Jefferson enabled that group. If you don’t know the story, it’s well worth googling. History in general is valuable to understand so as not to repeat it’s mistakes.
This is a reasonable gathering of Pronghorn for this early in the season. They have their reasons I suspect. Oh wait, rut is slowly building. There is already a lot of banter going on within the herds. To this day I have not been able to work myself into the middle of a wild Pronghorn herd of this size. Deer yes, Pronghorn ….. no ☹️ . I’ve been close but never IN the herd surrounded by the animals doing natural things. I think they are collectively more paranoid than individually.
This is an unusual capture of this Pronghorn Buck was relaxed so much. He bedded down as I was machine gunning his movements with a very fast camera. Rapid fire pictures are something I do from time to time. Picking and choosing shots is tricky and you do miss things now and then lol. I’d way prefer to “nuke em’ from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure”. (Classic Reference”). Rapid fire cameras that can take 50 high resolution photos in just a few seconds are miracles of technology. They do use up some disc space though lol.
Nice Horns ! This Young buck is still growing his horns larger even this late in the spring. Horn sheath growth in Pronghorns is a unique characteristic among ungulates in that they actually have horns. All others don’t lol. They shed that sheath yearly. I seldom find them… They don’t shed them here, they migrate south and drop them in the Thunder Basin National Grasslands.
While Horns are hollow, composed of keratin… basically the same as our fingernails.. Antlers are made of bone. Pronghorn have different headgear that most North American ungulates. . The horn composed of a slender/flattened blade of bone grows from the front of the skull forming the permanent core of the horn. Retained the core is. The pronghorn leaves only the sheath behind. I RARELY find them shed on my place. They usually shed after they migrate to the Thunderbasin National Grassland 30 miles south each winter.
I see many things in my backyard. (I have a pretty big backyard). Among the large cast of characters hanging out around our place is this Pronghorn Buck.
This Young buck has pretty tall horns from my limited experience… Horn sheath growth in Pronghorns is a unique characteristic among ungulates in that they actually have horns. They shed that sheath yearly. I seldom find them… They don’t shed them here, they migrate south and drop them in the Thunder Basin National Grasslands. While Horns are hollow, composed of keratin… basically the same as our fingernails.. Antlers however are made of bone Pronghorn have different headgear that most North American ungulates.
The horn composed of a slender/flattened blade of bone grows from the front of the skull forming the permanent core of the horn. Retained the core is. The pronghorn leaves only the sheath behind. I RARELY find them shed on my place. They usually shed after they migrate to the Thunderbasin National Grassland 30 miles south each winter. They disintegrate quickly I understand. “Clever Girl” my black Ford F-150 Raptor is being well tolerated.. . The local wildlife doesn’t seem to see it a threat. My old Blue Grand Cherokee Jeep was noisy moving across the prairie. Not so much this new rig. I have spent some good photographic time aside some larger groups of Pronghorn already this summer where I was the one to move away. Leaving them to continue grazing.
For a Pronghorn Buck to allow himself to get ridge lined is always fun. When I convince one to so cooperate, I prefer there to be a wondrous Cloud Scape to back his twilight silhouette. 😜
This afternoon was one of long shadows. Only part of the sky was exposed to the sun. The Pronghorn and I were in deep shadow of the clouds further obfuscating the remaining light from the set sun. The view over my shoulder was all in dark shadow. Heavy storm clouds were on that horizon. The grounds mists further obfuscating the clear view that way.
No light worthy of your attention that way. I turn my lenses off away from the dark sky. Looking to catch the back show of the clouds in all it’s 50 mile span of landscape. But this young guy got in my way. I did actually get to move a bit but I didn’t have enough topography behind me to get the landscape lower beyond this close ridge. Unfortunately, there was no way for me to gain altitude short of standing on the roof of my truck lol. No far horizon for me this time lolol.
He was good about me moving around as there was a HUGE deep gully between our two positions. I’m thinking he was feeling pretty secure. Intrusions much closer than 200 yards usually get their attention. Even really skittish Pronghorn are good past that typically. It’s hard to sneak up on them running around in the backcountry. I’ve seen their red line humans aren’t to cross even further out.
Taken at 2 AM by one of my game trail cameras. Of course as an Infra-red Flash automatic camera I have no choices here except for 3 levels of flash, 3 levels of sensitivity to make it flash and where to put it. The later being more important. Now the moon was full and illuminating the scene nicely thank you. Touching noses with one of her fawn ID’ing each other in the dark conditions. The other fawn is probably with the other Doe as well.
I place this camera at the gate between this field of grass and the field behind the camera where the water tank is. We keep 4 different water tanks open 364/24/7 for anybody that needs it. It’s funny how they don’t hang around water most of the time . Preferring to eat a mile or so away from where they water most of the time. I suspect that is an adaptation to Pleistocene hunting pressure near water . Back when the Large Cat population of crazy types like Saber Tooth, American Lion etc were about…. These guys are adapted to escape from those cats no longer an issue. Nothing else alive on the plains today but humans in our machinations can keep up with them. They don’t have a lot to worry about these days. As a chunk of the Pleistocene Megafauna slowly disappeared, these ungulates survived the causes of that extinction. What ever they did, it worked and here they are lolol.
Sometimes the sunset sideshows I see are just overwhelming, then a Pronghorn Doe wanders into my “visual tunnel” that I’m working. Layers of interdigitating hills. Slow tapering like so many water waves on a pond. The Golden Hour Lighting and long shadows add to the contrasts and hues. Accentuating even the drought covered grass’s early brown season patina.
This was taken about a week before a grass fire blackened the hillside just before the tall ridge of trees near the horizon right of center. That whole field was burned over about a mile. I’d say 12 fire rigs of all sizes made a local debut for the 2020 fire season in this country. About 30 men descended on that ground within an hour of it’s announcement. It’s still very dry. We have been enjoying trains of lightning rich storms.
The Pronghorn doe was moving from Yucca plant (Spanish Dagger) to Yucca Plant enjoying the abundance. That is a plant that plans ahead. Their shape on the prairie causes snow to drift and cover them better than the surrounding area. They get a LOT of their watering in the winter. Their lush blooms are eagerly sought by most ungulates. I understand they are good in salads… 🙂
Besides the other minor world wide issues, locally: Drought Hail and Fire this year has surpassed in intensity the green well watered year we experienced last year in 2019. I’d like to play this year over and it’s not even close to done yet. Think I could do that??
These Twins like all rambunctious baby animals frolic most of the day. Play interrupted by periods at mothers spigots to fuel such activities. Grass and Sage turned to protein and fat by an animal that has very little fat on it’s body. I’ve never seen a market for Pronghorn Milk. I suppose you would have to be pretty fast…..
I suspect there are tame Pronghorn as rescues in some gov’t program about. They are probably like any other animal raised by humans being tolerant of us. This would not be beneficial to them with the hunting culture out here. I’ve never seen them in petting zoo’s either. Their fur is not the softest ungulate fur out there. It’s kind of coarse if you’ve felt it, you’ll understand.
Mom was just off frame to the right. It’s fairly difficult to get them all in the same frame with any reliability. When mom isn’t feeding them, she’s trying to feed herself to keep up with the calorie demands. The kids do start eating grass but this is a tough year. We are very dry and JUST had a CRUSHING hail storm. Much of the grass is flat as a glass plate to the ground. It will reduce the rist of fire.
Our fire truck was started today and is more or less ready for this season. I have some things to test and make sure is stocked. The prairie is very dry is lots of hour fuel.
Boy this was tough lighting. When the late “Golden Hour” afternoon long traveled photons arrive, there is a tendency for them to be skewed significantly toward the reddish side of the spectrum. The fur colors of Pronghorn I’ve looked at very carefully over the years considering what different colorcast light does to it. This image runs the gamut literally.
Pronghorn fawns seem to be darker than their mother in every situation I’ve ever seen. This is about as red/tan as they EVER are. Even under this red light. Granted I’m just looking at my local population so it’s not a controlled observation. Pronghorn are generally very lightly colored tan. Darker animals are usually made that way by the photo editor boosting the color of the rest of the image. This brings along the coat to the color of a deer. I’ve seen some lighting turn them darker. Shade versus sunlight is another factor. In this image, it was the color of the sunlight that made it hard for me (the photo finisher) to get the animals to look the right color. If I let the raw image through un-edited they would have been VERY red.
All these Pronghorn are females. Males have dark cheek patches. There is still a lot of grass out on the prairie but there are a LOT of grasshoppers happily consuming already dry, headed out stunted grass.
The Pronghorn Pirates herd heard … there was a pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow. So off they ran in the rain. Its no wonder that I never found any treasure when I navigated to these spots in the past. These guys easily beat me to it. Laughing all the way no doubt. It’s no wonder they are all jumpy creatures Pronghorn all. They have something to hide. Like the location of all that loot they have collectively been finding over the generations. Here I caught them in the act of getting there first. They would be long gone by the time I get there in my slow Ford F150 Rapor. After all, they are the fastest land animal in North America. (The Pronghorn not the Raptor… ) I wonder how with all that gold’s weight on board though?. Such quandaries of life. 😜
Musings on Landscape Photography:
Composing such images are a fly by the seat of your pants operation out in the backcountry. By necessity really. Only seconds to adjust to events reactionary of the animals behavior. Sometimes you can get animals to cooperate in the composition like this and other I get to move my position to properly compose the image. Then one just lines up the shot and leave to the next random event. Here the Pronghorn did the lining up for me. Seeing where they were going, I just had to wait for the right moment lolol. It’s a lot easier when local wildlife do line up with the domestic ducks I actually try to train daily. Actually I think “Sneaky Pete” had something to do with this…. I never know what that guy is up to. 🤔 👀
Faintest Rainbow ever. If you zoom up on the full resolution copy we use print on archival paper from, you can see rain streaks in the air. Social Media sized files of my images are not meant to be high resolution. I keep the high resolution images with no signature on file.
These two week old fawns are following their mother across a pretty good run along side of my Pickup truck. There of course was no threat from me. Pronghorn tend to run along with vehicles just to remind themselves they are the fastest land animal in North America. Typically they will do their best to speed up and run across the road in front of your vehicle. Since the local backcountry speed limit is 45 mph, typically, they can and do pass you. I’m not sure if there is an evolutionary advantage to telling your pursuers that you are faster…. Maybe next time they won’t try??? 🤔 😜 In two decades of riding these backcountry gravel roads, I’ve only hit one Pronghorn with a vehicle. We custom build bumpers just for such things on our vehicles so no damage to the truck but the Pronghorn didn’t do as well. 😔
Mom had twins because last year was a banner year for grass. Her body reacted and doubled down on the survivability this summer. So far, it is early July and the Grass is totally brown. The grasshoppers are already competing for the meager grass crop cut short by both a dry year cutting mandibles. The grasshoppers are as thick as I remember them since I’ve lived here but I assure you that they could and probably will get worse. India, Saudi Arabia and Africa are having REAL Plague of Locust Biblical stuff at the moment. Let’s not go there please ☹️ It’s going to be hard on that mother. ….
Last year was a good environment to set up for multiple births of Pronghorn fawns this spring. Ultimately it may have been a cruel trick as while there is still grass growing, it is very dry. Worse, grasshoppers are thicker than recent memory. Malathion is a well used fumigant but it kills the good bugs too so it is a double edged sword. Some ranchers sprayed by plane over their ground. They have grasshoppers too as far as I can tell. The point is, later in the year, the Pronghorn are going to be competing with the jumpers for food I’m afraid. We are even taking precautions around our greenhouses to properly seal them from the invasion.
Each Pronghorn mother during estrus releases 6 eggs (I have been told). All of which fertilize, the mother sloughs off an appropriate number based on the environmental conditions. Twins and even triplets on the good year like last year. IT was green until august. This year, it’s only early July and it’s brown already. I know of one set of triplets and have seen several twins with various moms. These guys were typical fawns galavanting around like they own the place. Mother was typically ignoring them but keeping her eye on the surrounding threat matrix. Getting terribly close to Pronghorn babies is not going to happen regularly. I only have a few Does that tolerate my trucks presence. Others not so much lolol.
I work images from the past years into my work flow daily as there is some back up to complete. This capture is from last fall. The Pronghorn Doe was quite a ways out and I like to have a tight field of focus with a “bokeh’d” fore AND background. THe depth of the landscape being accented by the perception of distance.
Those bushes around Jane (Doe) are “Spanish Daggers” (Yucca) plants have long pointy leaves. The flower / seed pods feed many ungulates in this country. Making them fat for the winter in fact. Each and every leaf, a sharp spear able to penetrate most tight blue jeans enough to draw blood. They are also a danger to take the foot off a person silly enough to ride a motorcycle through this kind of landscape.
By far the fastest way to get across this ranch via land is to be a pronghorn. The next fastest is a house cat trying to look like he meant to fall off that TV. Then comes a motorcycle. I have to admit that I haven’t opened up the F-150 raptor yet. With have a couple of long lenses strapped in the back seat. I might have to remove those to keep them from seeing zero – G. Tie a few things down lol.
Pronghorn…These guys are skiddish, quick to react by escaping. Always aware of their surroundings. SLOWWW and stealthy is the best way to approach. Stop, take some photos, move a little closer, take some photos etc. I know they are aware considering potential threats versus running away all the time. There isn’t much they don’t see. I’m at least 300 yards out for this deep telephoto perspective.
The view from up here on the high ridges can be spectacular. I usually see lone Pronghorn venture on the upper ridges. Rare small herds will be wandering this high above the grassy flats.
These are real triplets not a Pronghorn Nursery. Nursery duty is common among Pronghorns. A little over a month ago I noticed a VERY VERY pregnant Pronghorn Doe that was hanging close to water and food. I drove through that area a lot and got to recognize her and her me. Getting use to me in my Black Ford F-150 Raptor which to her must appear like a noisy grazing Black Angus cow. I drive toward them like a cow would graze. It takes a while but as you can see, not spooking the mother and getting the three stooges in the photo too was a lot of fun. Pretty hard to do as any of the three was off getting into mischief at any one time.
Like any baby animals, Pronghorn Fawns jump and react in unexpected ways to the little things they run into. These three were interacting with each other to a large degree over the time I spent with them. Circling a Mother Pronghorn and her babies is something I personally have never done until this encounter. I was amazed they didn’t spook off. I believe the Doe knew I was no threat. The kids apparently picked up on the attitude. Mother was certainly aware of them but tried really hard to focus on eating. I suspect she will have to gorge herself to keep up with the calorie demand from those three.
I drove off with them not even moving from the area they were grazing in when I arrived. The fawns even laid down in the grass together when I was there watching them one by one. They all laid down within a circle of just a few feet. I have a photo elsewhere of their ears in the grass lolol.
These Tres Amigos are obviously conspiring to pull a prank on their mom just out of frame. They jump around bouncing and playing as you might expect to see from Mini Loki’s. These are legitimate triplets as I know the mother. She was enormous compared to the other pregnant Pronghorn Does in the area. I have watched them for hours now. Mom is relatively skinny having given birth to these three. Plop, Plop, Plop with no Fizz, Fizz I’m thinking.
“They are tight as three knots on a rope they are” 👀 . Yes they play most of the time when mom’s well used spigot(s) or sleep isn’t on the menu. I hope for the mothers sake that the grasshoppers this year aren’t going to be competing for this dry years vegetation. The grass crop is going to be hurt by this insect attack I’m afraid in this area anyway. More good timing. Waiting for the asteroid impact in 4 ,3 ,2 ,1 …..
I was lucky enough to completely circle this group with a box o’ cameras. If I am very careful and drive like a cow grazes, getting close is just a matter of time. I have to drive slowly through high grass these days as there are indeed fawns both Deer and Pronghorn potentially laying there unseen. (I only drive off trail on ground that I own).
One of my advantages taking photos is I’m very agile getting around to get the light and my subject properly oriented to each other. Owning the land, not having nearby boundaries to prevent me from moving into position. I could never approach these weeks old Fawns on foot. The Pronghorn mother wouldn’t allow it so zip gone…. My truck is my portable blind. In the Black F-150 Raptor, I must seem like a noisy grazing Black Angus to them. I need a horn that makes a moo sound on it. Think that might void the warrantee?? 😜 📷
I can’t tell you how many have inquired how the “REALLY” fat pregnant Pronghorn Doe is doing. Well here she is with her brood. I understand that female Pronghorn release 6 eggs which all fertilize. She sheds the ones her body determines she can’t take care of based on the environment. Last year was a very green year. This year is a grasshopper year. Cutting grass early this year is the game before the grasshoppers eat it all up.
At any rate, I’m able to approach this female closely as you know if you are following me. That feeling transmitted quickly to the young ones. At first they were a little wary of this big black Ford F-150 raptor around them. Before long I had circled around them to get them fully in the sun. What was really hard was catching them all 4 together. Watching the group for about 1/2 hour, I only caught this one image of them all bunched up. Typically the fawns were being kids exploring and jumping around like all juvenile animals on the plains.
I have MANY image from this timeline. It’s not often I’m tolerated so well by a Pronghorn group. I hope this relationship continues all summer unaltered. We are about to cut the hay in this field so they will move. I’ll have to figure out where they moved to though. That may take a while as this is a big place. I know where they water though which is a good place to start. 🤔 👀 📷
OK, let’s see how observant you are. Can you see them? Here are three fawns (Triplets) well hidden in about 100 acres of grass and Sweet Clover. The Sweet Clover is getting tall these days. Pronghorn babies effective disappear from view if they lay down. I was literally circling the VERY pregnant Mother and her three foals in my Black Ford Raptor. I stay well back, have been seen maybe 100 times by the mother, and she wasn’t worried. The fawns seeing me for the first time, were skiddish at first. The lack of concern of the mother to my presence soon calmed the three and they were playing to their hearts content. Generally they stayed close to each other but would wander from their mother a bit. Getting the three of them photographed with their mother proved to be challenging.
So have you found all three yet? The ONLY reason I could find these guys is I was following them in the lens and they literally disappeared one by one. No where to be seen. Only with very careful searching with a 1200 mm lens finally found them. Indeed located in the general area they vanished in. I was very luck to find them. I had no interest in getting close to them as I have found that if I push animals, they don’t let me get close next time. Finally I drove away from this group. They remained bedded upon my leaving. Their mother grazing near by. They never panic’d during my visit as Pronghorn are prone to do. It’s all a matter of familiarity and trust earned. Wild Pronghorn are not the most patient of beasts in my experience lolol.