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.
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….🤔
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pretty up close and personal. She will get fat on Sweet Clover if she doesn’t bleed out from all the Coumadin in the plant.
Just a taste the sweet clover the bees are so busy with at the moment. There is a LOT of sweet clover this biannual year when it appears in mass quantities. A California Honey Company sends out hives to harvest the pollen from billions of blossoms up here in Wyotana. We are paid in honey every year. About two cases lol. We do our best but it does store for ever. There are jars of honey from the Egyptian tombs that is still viable as a food source. The high clover makes it hard for me to go across open fields for fear of running over Pronghorn Fawns in the grass. I can’t see in front of me with it over the hood.
This female Pronghorn has the coolest ears ever. They remind me of Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame. I’ve never seen this on other antelope which have pointy ears. I have to assume it was frost bite when she was young. I also have a photo of this animal from behind at another location/time where those little extra points on it’s ears look like horns. I had to do a triple take to make the decision boy or girl. I couldn’t see the dark cheek patches on the other isolated photo which I was looking at out of context. Obviously the same animal, different time… I determined the other photographed animal a doe too. This one is certainly a Doe. I’m not sure what to call her but I’m thinking “Saavik”. (classical reference).
I was watching this long eyelashed gal from afar. I wanted to see what she was getting into. It was a choice between photographing her or a heavily clouded sunset. That sunset held little appeal to me. I drive a Black F-150 Raptor in the backcountry. It has been accepted by many of the local inhabitants. This gal was totally unbothered by my presence. She even let me move around a bit.
Living on a small ranch surrounded by REALLY big ranches pretty much is living in the wilderness. No mistake, this is a wild animal. She has just accepted me as no threat. This animal has been hanging around the easy water holes about my homestead. We have kept 4 stock tanks open for any comers for 20 years now. The wildlings like easy clean water. I go out onto the ranch land several times most days. I’m seen a lot by the local denizens. If I behave properly, the animals accept me now.
Sweet Clover is a biennial plant. The Sweet Clover is abundant so mule deer and antelope use it for forage throughout the year. It gets way less palatable later in the year getting “stemmy” and coarse. It makes a lot of noise under your truck then too. Burns hot too….. Wildfire concern every other year (this year). The pollen is problematic to some (me too) but the bees take full advantage of it. We have a California Honey company show up every few years here. They put out hives and give up several big cases of honey each time. It’s payment enough for me lolol.
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.
Random opportunities occasionally side track me. The sun was going down in 15 minutes. I was JUST out my back gate still on ranch on my way to an overlook a few miles down the road. A “slight” detour occurred. When a small group of Pronghorn got my attention. They were scattered widely across one of our pastures. (We have a big back yard). This guy caught my eye. I was moving along on the gravel, continuing just past this gorgeous male Pronghorn. Presented with his shadowed side, I had a plan.
After sitting (clicking) for a few minutes on road, I then proceeded to move into the pasture. Down through the ditch, (open pasture) I slowly worked around this guy. Ariving on the sunny side of my subject with “Close” being a goal… ( I could have easily photographed him from the shadow side… nah…) A lot of sun shine is a good thing. Having said that, the sun had just disappeared behind a low cloud bank here.
Successfully working around a Pronghorn while in a vehicle is not common even for me whom they should be familiar with……… (It took over about 10 minutes to get around him). Then only 5 minutes to go before solar touchdown on the horizon, he decides to lay down!!!! 😵 He took his left front knee with the rest to follow. He rested there a good 10 minutes which took us into twilight. (I was 50 feet away at the most) . I have NEVER had a Pronghorn I was this close to, relax and bed down. ….. I’ve had them stand up dozens of times upon my approach though lolol.
He did finally stand back up and moved off bored I believe… I can’t believe how comfortable he was with “Clever Girl” idling on and off with a low throaty rumble on approach driving through high grass. (noisy) . Then boredom hit me…. Moving off to salvage the sunset (Twilight) I had ignored to take about 200 images like this. You have to chase the light you have lolol. Sort of a “Love the One your With” scenario …
Several readers have been following the continuing adventures of this VERY Pregnant Pronghorn Doe I’ve named “Jane”. She is relatively at ease with my presence as far as one of these jumpy creatures can be. She is indeed getting tolerant of my vehicle. I don’t press her as this is a LONG lens so I’m a ways back. I left without her moving from her spot. They tend to be rather flighty and one of my favorite captures is when they are laying down bedded in soft sand. If you dig below the top few inches of sand, it get remarkably cool relative to the surface. I suspect they know this instinctively. Soft and cool on a hot evening is after all, soft and comfortable lol…
The chunk of “fur” missing on her shoulder is just spring time shedding. They loose hair chunky on their back typically from going under barbed wire fences at 30 mph. This is not a problem. This Pronghorn is perfectly healthy even though she looks a little shaggy from the uneven shedding. She looked better last fall when she was bedded by the buck responsible for her misery here. 👅 The Thick winter cover falling off in chunks until it’s in a tight fitting summer coat. High and tight with an accent on the mane please 😝 🤠
She is indeed huge, still carrying if not three, then why not 4 young in there. Twins are not uncommon… Honestly, it seemed she was happy not to move for a few minutes while I took great care to get the image where I wanted to. I was outta there as to not stress her longer than I needed to. The more I come and go without scaring her, the closer I will get to her the next time. Hopefully this lack of fear to my Black Truck will transmit to her young.
This late spring, the grass is not that high yet as it’s starting as a dry year. It may appear this Pregnant Pronghorn Doe was standing in high grass. Nope.. If you look carefully, you can see her hind leg folded up as she is actually bedded down. Also she would stand well over the Yucca right behind her. She rests unafraid of my presence. I actually thought she was standing while watching live in the camera. After a few minutes she didn’t move anything but her head I figured that out lol. That head is on a constant swivel as all Pronghorn practice situational awareness routinely. In my experience, they are on situation Orange most of the time and go red at a pin dropping. She can go from 0 to 60 even while pregnant as here though I suspect 50 might be her top speed capability in her “sensitive” condition.
Setting aside very difficult to capture Pronghorn Eyelash close shots of wild animals, the Holy Grail of Pronghorn Photography are bedded animals. Certainly I use long lenses that bring creatures up close and personal. However this was intended as a landscape composition that happened to have a Pronghorn in it lolol. I can’t tally all the things that have to align just so to get a capture like this. The layers of this composition are many (I count 9) which I LOVE to find while randomly driving along remote two track roads. I find new angles every time I go out here in Wyotana. This country is beautiful every which way you look.
Holy Pregnant Pronghorn. This gal is so pregnant she looks like one of those balloon animals I’ve seen in various cartoons. Just about ready to float above the water hole 4 legs up in the air. Not the fastest land animal in North America at the moment eh?
I’ve taken a few images of pregnant does before and they don’t typically get this big. This may be one of those “does this coat make my butt look fat” moments. Damned if you tell the truth and damned if you lie. There are certain situations in life where there are no correct responses. I’m thinking that within the month there will be three as she has to have a pair of buns in that oven. They usually have twins during a “good” year. It was a long but relatively warm winter for the now miserable mother to be.
Pronghorn birth after both Whitetail and Mule deer in June. That means that by the time this posts, at least a few pronghorn fawns will be scattered around the prairie. This necessitates a great deal of “watching” out in the grass ahead of what ever I’m driving. I’ve seen them in two tracks and even on county gravel roads hiding as a small motionless lump. I’d rather not find one with my vehicle. So for the next few weeks I’ll be treading lightly watching for baby Pronghorn in the grass.
Low Light photos as this are very hard to capture as the animals are moving plus a close/far perspective with a telephoto lens. The combinations of what you are asking your camera to do is contrary to physics. A cell phone might do better than a 5K dollar camera rig in this case lol. Getting a LONG focal field in low pre-dawn/twilight is an exercise in how long an exposure you can get away with at high f-stop settings. Here at 1/10th of a second, the term “Forever” applies to how long the exposure is versus how fast a Pronghorn moves. Getting the landscape is easy. Getting a non-blurry Pronghorn on that landscape is a challenge at 1/10th second….
The Large Conical Monadnock called “Mitten Butte” looms two miles in the distance for perspective. I’m estimating 200 yards for the Pronghorn with the horizon being 30 miles at this angle. Mitten Butte is totally on State Land being on the “School Section” of the 36 square mile township we are located in. The rest of the foreground is part of the Ranch. This point she is standing on is a toe of “RattleSnake Ridge”. I like to work that ridge as I have mostly all season access to this hill side. No Bentonitic Mud there either…. It’s also on a trail that leads to water…. This makes it a regularly traveled route by numerous animals including this photographer.
It is fairly unusual for a Pronghorn of any sex to walk toward the camera directly. This one is a doe. I can count on one hand the number of images I have even similar to this posture. Mostly visiting photographers see their butts heading out. Oddly, she was literally walking directly toward me for some distance. Must be near sighted… Or that Black pickup looked like an angus lol.
I would indicate though that if there isn’t triplets in there, I’d say she is going to have quads. Technically this might be the biggest “Fastest” land animal in North America. She might have been a little not fast enough last fall. I will tell you with certainty that she is not as quick as she was last year before that Buck got involved. I’m really not sure if she is aware of the fact that that “coat makes her butt look big”. I’m not going to tell her. A professional has to maintain appropriate relationships with photographic subjects after all.😇📷
I see so many Pronghorn each year I can’t keep track of individual does but this one seems familiar with me anyway. She looks pretty scraggly but that is only because she is shedding in clumps of fur. She’s perfectly healthy. Most Pronghorn in cattle country have big chunks of hair off their back as going under barbed wire fences at 30 mph has it’s draw “backs”. I’ve seen those scars get infected before but it’s not that common such that it kills them from it. It’s only known in the Presidential “Book of Secrets” why they prefer to go under fencing rather than over like every other ungulate in North America. 😜👀
It sure seems that all the Pronghorn Does are pregnant. This group of 6 were hanging out on the MT/WY border with apparently nothing better to do. I was able to drive by these and then come in from the other side of them for some close ups. I was actually on the road for this capture. Having a group of pronghorn already familiar with my Black Ford F-150 Raptor (Clever Girl) this early in the year is a very good thing. I actually circled these guys, got much closer and left them not the other way around. Until they get familiar with me, running away from a vehicle is the standard response.
By late summer, I’ll have these guys thinking I’m just another cow. They will pass this on to their fawns (due within the month certainly). The lack of fear for this particular truck already This will hopefully turn into many close photos of the actors in this group. This last year was a very good wet year so I expect at least several sets of twins out of this group. Six adults turn into a family of say 14 or so… The nursery is going to be busy very quickly. So turns the wheel of life.
The males are mostly off in little groups but the male that was bossing these girls around is just off screen. I’m not sure of his relationship to the developing young. I’m doubting he had control over the group all winter while they were migrating. I’m thinking he’s probably not the father…..
This Young buck is still growing his horns larger this early in the spring. 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 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 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 spring where I was the one to move away. Leaving them to continue grazing. This is a good sign that these guys think my Black truck looks like a big noisy, smelly mechanical Angus Cow.
Local animal groups are becoming used to me. I already have this spring a few encounters that have given me great captures of these and other magnificent animals. I can occasionally circle even the Pronghorn groups to properly get light plus closer, closer, closer…. Captures like this will make their way into my work flow and get posted. I am currently 10 days out from taking a photo to it being posted. 📷👀
These 3 younger bucks got caught working out for the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Fall Pronghorn Rut. Taking turns with male aggression. It’s a single elimination tournament with winner taking all in the long run.
These Bucks actually get along pretty well in the “Boys Club” they hang in most of the year. But this is as close to a full blown organized training session I’ve seen this year. Getting ready for the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, annual Pronghorn all male review for a party of just the Does. Hot and heavy in the fall, it’s a yearly thing up here… So turns the wheel of life. 🤘📸
So on an overcast tuesday HIGH up on a backcountry Ridge was a small dojo formed for the purpose of working out and getting “tuned” for the battles to come. These guys were not not yet playing for keeps. The bigger bucks usually take it easy on the smaller males training/ramping up to the rut. It can really be violent when big Pronghorn Bucks cross swords. It’s all fun and game until someone puts out an eye!.
. Probably 4 year olds. This of course is a game trail camera capture from late in the fall (Fall was on a Tuesday this year). From this location in the past, dozens of various wonderful candid captures of both deer and Pronghorn occurred. All the Pronghorn are off ranch at the moment.
They all migrated over a month ago from about 30 miles south from the Thunderbasin National Grassland. Pronghorn herds numbering in the hundreds with thousands in the larger Grassland area where they overwinter. I once had a Old Pronghorn Buck I named “Grunt” that stayed over winter several years but he’s not here for the last 2 years. . He either migrated with the others or in in much higher and greener pastures by his passing. I miss him as I could get very close to him as he was tolerant of me as a pronghorn can be tolerant. Grunt was a nice buck too. 😔
I was following this good looking Pronghorn Doe from below. I had a long lens on it quickly stopping in my tracks. My appearing over an adjacent ridge suddenly caused it to move. Here is the story…
Sudden appearances of scary smelly, noisy vehicles always throw a wrench into a nice day grazing in the backcountry. This is not a traditional multiple exposure. It is a digital recreation of the even placing the animal precisely on the landscape as it was recorded. The digital work alone took hours but I like the result. Thought it was worth your time as well…
SO this is ALL the SAME Pronghorn “documenting” each stop over the same patch of ground. From right to left the Pronghorn moved, stopping as the bird captured in the frame flew very close to it. The spooked doe stopped and watched it. Moved about 10 feet and watched me for a few second. From that quick glance she moved into a nervous shuffle only to stop and pee (more nervous activity). A quick circle and she was back watching me yet again. The thought settled in her mind I was a threat sitting there. Thusly she decided to head more to the left, looked over the ridge, evaluated and changed her mind. Quickly zipping back to the right where she extended and left my area.
I don’t do a lot of these….. Art, did I mention this is ART? It’s built on 9 different photographs… 😜📸 2:1 Diptych Digital Composite
Talk about a long landscape.. This is a VERY long shot… The Pronghorn here (all Males) are traveling but were nice enough to frame themselves at this remote ranch gate. The first ridge out in the “Prairie Dog Hills” is 10 miles distant from my camera. The “Red Hills” off in the distance are 40 miles away from the lens.
It’s obvious that Spring has Sprung. The grass is turning green. It is rocket fuel for the animals that have been eating brown grass all winter. Green season is one of birth and new growth up in a harsh country of long winters and frozen climate. These males survived the long winter this year.
Under this lighting condition, I was lucky to get as much detail as I did. The effect of extreme distance is with a REALLY long telephoto, is that even objects a mile away are in a different focal plain that the distant mountains. I had to resort to a low F-stop number to open up the aperture in the lens to let way more light in. The dark conditions just before the sunrise were such that deep focus was not an option while still capturing moving animals with no blur. I had to cave into the light and use the evil low f-stop number for a long shot. I really don’t like to do that. Rule #2 of Photography is to : “Get the Photo”.
The intersection of Parks Rd and Trail Creek about 4 miles south of the Montana / Wyoming border is in the distance. I’m about a mile from that crossroads for this shot. The Pronghorn as a matter of principle decided to cross in front of me. They do this to show off. I was pursuing the rainbow the road was leading to. Of course rainbows are tough to catch up to since they move as you move lolol. BUT I find that there are rainbows images and then there are rainbow IMAGES.
Gravel Wyotana backcountry roads are always exciting in what you will come across. I had stopped to to capture the rainbow lining up with the road of course. I saw this Pronghorn, anticipated her path and waited patiently as she took her sweet time wandering across. There is a HUGE network of gravel backcountry roads in this country. The closest asphalt road to that intersection is about 9 miles to the right (looking south east here). The setting sun was REALLY low on the horizon for this capture as I initially working the sunset of course. I randomly run into animal encounters regularly in this country. More pronghorn per square mile than people here.
There is no hurrying mother nature or for that fact, mother Pronghorn (pregnant this time of year of course). Besides the fat belly, you can tell Pronghorn sex by looking for a black cheek patch which this gal doesn’t have. The males have a big black splotch under their ears / behind their eyes.
With perfect light, these three cooperated for a “sitting” for my telephoto. I was sitting about 50 yards out from them in my Ford Raptor and was SLOWLY working my way toward them. I take images as I approach, stop, move a little closer, take some more and so on until I get the full frame image I was looking for. Now it always doesn’t work for me with Pronghorn being as spooky as animals come. The only way I can get this close is by working up to them.
Boy are they Pregnant each and all. Last year was a very good year for precipitation. I never had to start my fire truck (second time in 20 years). So I’m thinking that 2 out of three (right two) probably have twins in the oven. It’s still a while till they birth so I will be keeping my eye open for fawns in the grass when I travel before too long. Deer will birth sooner than the Pronghorn.
It’s that time of year of renewal up in the high country. The green grass is rocket fuel for many creatures. Must be wonderful after dried salads all winter for them. I don’t feel too sorry for Pronghorn since they eat a lot of sage brush lolo.. I suspect their diet is improving rapidly with the oncoming green. The brown season is waning. Long live the green season!☯
This is 10 minutes before sunrise this early spring morning when i ran across this fellow. He was actually heading my way as I was setting up to shoot the sunrise soon to occur over my shoulder. I’m in my vehicle and pretty much in a “blind” as far as the local critters are concerned. They usually don’t mind if the vehicle moves either as long as it isn’t a fast movement or more than 20 or 30 yards moving slowly. Approach is very important lolol. Pronghorn are way more tolerant before Civil Twilight that after.
This country is big. I drove about 2 miles out into the backcountry to have this guy cooperate while I composed the capture. It’s always good when animals sit for me… The Orange Alpenglow was just a foretelling of the sunrise minutes away. This capture was dead center of civil twilight that morning. The Orange is the surviving Light that has traveled hundreds of miles through atmosphere. Th ere is was reflected from atmospheric ice acting like a projector screen.
There is no snow here at the moment as this posts. . ….for late April. We have had BIG snows in early May…… It has been a very long winter as it started October 1 this year. It’s been not terribly severe but it’s been cold enough long enough for me lol. Life up in the high Wyotana borderlands can be harsh at times lolol. Never a lack of things to take photos of though 📸
Boy talk about attitude…..👅 . I actually don’t see this too much. Blue Tongue to the wind is something that might happen every few minutes. They don’t lick a lot I’m thinking….
This is a Pronghorn. It is not an “Antelope” no matter if the “Deer and Antelope Play” song rolls through your head lolol. It is not a “Speed Goat” either and is not related to a goat. It’s not related to an Antelope, the natural location for the closest of which is in Africa. It’s Latin Name “Antilocapra americana” literally means “american goat”. It is not either a goat or an Antelope as I said. It is the sole surviving member of the Antilocapridae family in North America and has literally been in North America for at least a million years. More of a relative of the Giraffe than any other animal…
The best way to tell a male is to look for a black cheek patch under the ear. This is a female sans the patch. They are active both night and day, have excellent eye sight and can see you up to 4 miles away. Your not sneaking up on these guys/gals very easily. They take about 20 foot long single strides when running . These guys own the title as the “Fastest land animal in North America”. They are strictly a western United States creature of the Rocky Mountains and the grasslands of their foothills.