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.
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.
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 Doe is the “famous” balloon pregnant from about a week ago. She, as of this narratives typing has not given birth just yet. I suspect she wishes that she has. She found herself bedded down on a fine sand derived from Mountains long removed to our west. A series of Cretaceous age river carried it here leaving them here just for her to lay on. Geology is good for something…. My ranch is a very large sand box. We have more sand here than most public beaches lol. It’s just all terrestrial sourced plus relatively old deposit dropped here over 66 million revolutions around the sun ago.
I see this gal virtually every day and I’ve not chased her off ever. I drive around wild animals like a Black Angus Cow grazing. Stopping, the engine shuts off, take some photos….engine auto starts so it’s time to move, move, repeat the process a little closer each time. It doesn’t always work. I suspect a lot of the Pronghorns have seen me for years. The new truck had to mess up some of that old good will.
She doesn’t look that “Fat” in this view but she had that belly buried in the sand. I suspect she is VERY comfortable laying there. If full disclosure after about 5 minutes of me working her with 3 different cameras / lenses, she stood up and walked over 20 feet to graze. I drove away, my Ford F-150 Raptor “Clever Girl” never raised her heart beat. Even with me moving around in the
This is actually quite a low light capture. The sun had just set so only twilight illumination. 📸
I’m a serious sufferer of pareidolia. (Seeing familiar shapes from random visual data) At least I am not alone as proven by the conversation of these two.
Now bear with me as my Pronghorn Lip Reading Skills are not what they should be. Here is how I translate it. These two gals are called (Left Doe is “Jane”, The Right Doe is named ” Doe” ) . Jane and Doe… 👀
The general topic of conversation was concerned about, “Seeing things in clouds”. “Doe” saw a Bear face. The bear, swallowed by a huge alligator from behind. (Now how do those guys know about Alligators ??) 🤔😜
“Jane” on the left was saying she was seeing a gorilla’s face in the growing storm cloud. “Doe” was all about the bear being eaten by the alligator. Lots of things live in those billowing cloud they agreed. The conversation went on with small talk about the weather being dry this spring. No big storms have dumped on fields this spring. Just little dribbles. Going to be a long brown season with some fires and other topics unique to pronghorn gossip. I’m not repeating the conversation about that “new Buck” on the block…… Rated “PG” this page.
Then suddenly, “Doe” said out of nowhere that Jane looked “fat”. “Jane” snapped back quickly “have you looked in a mirror lately?” Sneering away. Well needless to say the conversation went down hill from there as did the animals. Right down the hill to the left off frame at typically high speed. 😜📸
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.
Sometimes I feel that I’m being pointed in the right direction. Either by amazing chance or other forces beyond my comprehension. As I left my driveway in the middle of this blowy spring snowstorm, the flat light was not the best for photography. I stopped at the end of the drive deciding to set up my long lens for the light conditions. I pointed the camera at a random spot on the surrounding hill out in the distance. Amazingly on a big scale, it was already in focus and looking directly at this group of Pronghorn. I had about 120 degrees of landscape to choose from and I point DIRECTLY at this group perfectly framed. I didn’t see them, didn’t know they were there. Using this 1200 mm lens at about 300 yards out. Blended perfectly into the landscape. They sure stood out in the camera though.
So I very slowly worked my Black Ford Raptor higher above them. Carefully closer until I could get a better look. I must have done well. I have never ever been able to sneak around on a group of Pronghorn bedded down before. I’m thinking the 30 mph winds driving moderate snow at this moment might have given them reason to hit the deck. They are all looking into the wind and you can see snow starting to build up on their back. There is 5 inches of snow out there as I type this at 15 degrees F.
Ever had to crawl up to get a shot? I’m too old for that stuff anymore lolol. It’s pretty hard to get a big buck laying down on the job of protecting his girls. Stealth is a slow pace but a long lens sure helps a bit unless your carrying it….
Pronghorn are the Fasted Land Animal in North America. Nothing else even comes close. They developed these skills/anatomy as a result of learning to avoid predation. It seems there used to be some pretty fast Lions, tigers and other cats living in these hills. Those predators were obviously prolific during the last Ice Ace and before here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
The most most recent continental Ice sheet (5 glaciations in the last 500,000 years) stopped it’s advance about 20 miles up into Montana from my perspective here on the Bliss DInosaur Ranch. There were LOTS of critters hanging out below the glaciers. The Pleistocene Epoch is typically defined as the time period that began about 2.6 million years ago and lasted until about 11,700 years ago. Paleontologist recognize this age as a time of geologically rapid Glaciations followed by warmer periods in between. A vast and diverse “Mega-fauna” was present within those variable ecosystems.
About 11,700 years ago, things started warming up for the 5th time in a half a million years. (Warm periods between the ice sheet advances). The earth’s various climates (the earth has NO climate, it has ALL climates) were “Changing” every 100,000 years or so. The Term “Cycle” is thrown about loosely these days. I use it here in that I’m glad it’s warm because living here with an ice sheet 20 miles to our north….Might have experienced some “Climate Change” back then. Sort of like this winter so far….
This Pronghorn bucks straight on look was a good portrait opportunity. Taking the time to turn sideways the camera side ways They tend to be a bit “flighty” at times and you get their white butts running away as a photo…🤣 When I go out into the backcountry, it’s always a mystery who I’m going to meet and how they are going to react to me. This healthy buck in mid-spring that was put off by my intrusion on his territory. He treated me like another animal with generally him trying to pressure me . I never try to push wildlife on my place as they don’t let me watch them again. They run away instead.
I have found that by being consistently not a problem for wild animals really helps approaching them. Acting like another grazing animal in your vehicle is my technique. I almost never get out and expose my human form to the critters. That would be un-productive. They only see my vehicle and my cameras. I’m still evaluating how these guys will react to my NEW vehicle.
The Pronghorn rut is long over at this time so most of that business is taken care of by now. All the ranches Pronghorn Have migrated with the first snows. THey walk 20 miles to the south. The Thunderbasin Natural Grasslands is a miniature version of the Serengeti Plain here in north eastern Wyoming. (Fewer Big Cats) Not so much in the summer but in the winter there are LARGE herds of Pronghorn that move there from a pretty big surrounding area to winter over the brutal conditions that we enjoy about this region. There is running water there.
At distance, I was confused knowing the ground I was on quite well. I literally saw an out of place bush in a place it didn’t belong. Caught my attention it did. I only have one good eye. The one good eye I have isn’t great so I thought I was seeing things lol. A somewhat closer trip over to the two bedded and resting 3.5 and 2.5 year old boys seemed prudent. Eventually it made perfect photographic sense … Glasses get in my way with cameras. Usually safety glasses for open ATV’s are bad enough but necessary.
These two have seen me before hundreds of times. I’ve never pressured them by getting out of my vehicles. (That they could see)…I’ve taken some shots under and around my rigs before with the deer a stone throw on the other side. They are used to my smell and noise by now lolol. I have literally been able to drive among the wild deer out on the grasslands numerous times before.
I have accumulated many many good facial images of various deer doing natural behaviors. I’ve never pushed deer unless they were inside our deer resistant electric fenced in yard around our homestead. It’s a big fence lol. We had a couple of deer walk through an open gate today . They went out the same way they came in as we quickly knew they were there. They didn’t like my running about on a 4 wheeler looking like a threat. We don’t have our gates open too much but were expecting someone. Quick as we think they smell the few dozen apples that are under the snow now fermenting rich in sugars.
Getting this up close and personal to a bedded Pronghorn is not a common event mostly because it took me an hour to work up to this gal who was still bedded as I drove away. I probably have 1/2 a dozen images “about” this close to a living Pronghorn but this is probably the 2nd closest I have with the closest being just an eye shot of this gal.
Approaching a Pronghorn
Some of them obviously think of my Jeep as just another grazing animal and tolerate me in pretty close as long as I drive like a grazing animal walks. (long story). Cars are without a doubt good portable blinds…no question. But the only shooting from them is with a camera lolol.
There is the discussion of getting animals used to vehicles because this isn’t a problem here so far…. It’s getting them used to the human form that is a bad thing. Hunters don’t hunt up here from vehicles if they are doing it legally. (well maybe some handicapped hunters shoot from vehicles). Hunters mostly get out on foot and because of the human form in the past shooting things at them, chasing them etc, pose an easily recognizable danger to the wildlings. If I get out of my vehicles, the result is these critters are “OUTTA THERE”. They don’t like the human form.
Poaching of course is always an issue but that isn’t a really good idea on a place where the proprietor is out with cameras all the time Also this is a VERY big place so just because I have a photo of a big buck photo, I’ve got about 100 square miles to search for it. Fences are no barriers to Pronghorn and Deer. They go where they want to. If you want to poach, go elsewhere lolol.
Slow but sure wins over impatience pursuing Pronghorn Portraits all year long 📸
Catching a close up of a bedded Pronghorn Doe is not as easy as you think lol. Usually if you surprise a Pronghorn, the fastest land animal in North America will show you her white A** while getting out of Dodge.
I’m pretty careful how I approach Pronghorn and it doesn’t always matter. Once they are aware of you, they tend to move off even when they are used to you with notable exceptions lol.
This 5X5 Buck was bedding in the deep snow. When the snow coats everything making snow noodles, it’s a winter wonderland up here. To come up on a pretty nice buck and not disturb him to get up out of his nice warm bed….priceless… Click..
I know, this is a little out of season but up here on the Montana/Wyoming border we can have snow any month of the year and it’s getting close to white season. We missed the brown season mostly up here this year.. It has been VERY wet all spring/summer.