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Scruffy Pronghorn Boys Club

Scruffy Pronghorn Boys Club
Scruffy Pronghorn Boys Club

Scruffy Pronghorn Boys Club

The Tres Amigo’s here are walking back home from a long winter down in the Thunderbasin National Grasslands.

So for this shot I was traveling back from Gillette Wyoming to my ranch. I took the “back way”. It’s about a 30 mile gravel road drive through a REALLY big National grassland area. That is the long gravel road that skirts the west side of the area on the maps. It passes right through some of the best places to see herds of Pronghorn anywhere.. I consider it the Serengeti of North America. There are several separate (huge) chunks of ground that make up the this amalgamation of reserves under this name in several states. They wander quite a bit and there are sometime I see nothing but grass and scenery. Half of the time. No cell phone service and no AAA up here…. Just saying 😀

The Thunderbasin Grasslands are indeed a remote area. The closest stop light is about 40 miles. There are not many private inholdings within this area and nothing but large ranches surrounding the reserves. There might be a few water and a few oil wells out there. They actually help the wildlife providing both connate water as well as deep hydrothermal water recovered from very deep oil production in the area. That deep origin hot water ( well treated) is a major source of water for wildlife as it remains unfrozen over most of the winter where it ponds.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Scruffy Pronghorn Boys Club

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Grassy Bedded Buck Pronghorn

Grassy Bedded Buck Pronghorn
Grassy Bedded Buck Pronghorn

Grassy Bedded Buck Pronghorn

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….

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

Title: Grassy Bedded Buck Pronghorn

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Buck Mule Deer Twilight

Buck Mule Deer Twilight
Buck Mule Deer Twilight

Buck Mule Deer Twilight

I see a variety of scenes driving the backcountry. This Mule Deer Buck caught in a mid- twilight Silhouette was up watching the sun go gown with me. He was ridge lined. I was able to maneuver way below him about 200 yards out and Click… Silhouettes of nice bucks are always welcome in my web gallery.

This Mule Deer Buck was definitely aware of me but yet tuned into the sunset. I find linking up deer with the moon (harder) and or the sun to be a challenge of finding the right topography that enables me to “work” the scene. In this case (all hand held camera shots walking across backcountry grassy, yucca, rocky terrain. Then moving as the deer and the sun moves. 800mm telephoto. I worked this deer and his partner for about 20 minutes which is about 400 clicks or so with several cameras ….Forever in my world….

The hard part is getting them to “look up” between bites when I’m about 300 yards away. They are usually on a parallel ridge. Of coruse they are used to me being on the prairie with a noisy ATV. He really was watching that sunset. I’ve seen them do it many times. I was lucky enough to wander into this kind of deer versus sun on a ridge 4 times last year and only once this year so far. Hit or miss on deer habits…..

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Buck Mule Deer Twilight

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Two Illuminated Bucks

Two Illuminated Bucks
Two Illuminated Bucks

Two Illuminated Bucks

These guys were busy grazing on the grass of this ridge when out of the blue, this big ball of fire came down between them. Separated by an apparently dangerous fireball, the rear buck realizes the problem. I’m sure he’s working out the solution to his separation anxiety. Deer take time to process unique situations so I caught him here deep in thought. 😜📷

Lining Deer UP from hundreds of yards away against the setting sun is an exercise in understanding topography. By working parallel ridges I get to stay hundreds of yards away from the casual deer. not alert the deer and am still able to get far enough away to catch a foreground object in focus for three layers of image here. I only get to have the planets align like this a few times a year. I only had one opportunity this year to have deer pose for me in front of such a show. Images like this are infrequent in their occurrence for me to work.

In reality this kind of image is going on all the time, there just isn’t anyone there to take the photo. Getting into the right position for this is a lucky event. I have known these two bucks for a few years and because aware of their tendency to walk this ridge an hour before sunset. They were on their way from their grass pasture to the water hole on the other side. Almost every day these two walked this ridge like clockwork. Following the same trail daily These two are still around. I’m not sure exactly where with the snows/mud of late. The Backcountry is challenging to get back into at the moment.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Two Illuminated Bucks

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Parks School House Site

Parks School House Site
Parks School House Site

Parks School House Site

This capture caught these two young bucks standing on an old country school site. Bucks still with antlers…. (taken in January).

This is section 36 on the map of the local township. Every township has 36 square miles and is mapped by square mile sections. Section 36 is the state owned and controlled School section. Basically the law gives 1/36th of all land to the state automatically. I digress.

The little brown box to the right center of the photo, is the old oil burning stove that used to sit on the Trail Creek/Parks School. Generations of local kids went to school with this view out the back. I’ve heard stories of walking to school from those kids. There are people alive that went to that school. It is physically located about 2 miles south from our homestead as the crow flies. The building that was removed has a few signs it was there.

Other evidence, : the latent archeologist in me…

The aforementioned stove itself is an interesting antique. I’ve worked it with cameras but never liked what I got. I’ll get back to it sometime with the right light… but there are concrete foundations from that old school building, not huge and they looked like they were hand poured. Someone with a small mixer and bags kind of foundations….say 1930’s….. Those concrete chunks were pushed over the lip of and into a nearby gully where they serve as a rock which are currently being slowly naturalized by the environment. Evidence of past lives and events that will mostly be lost to history but they leave clues. It would be interesting to work this site with a metal detector eh? …

Location: just south of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Parks School House Site

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Buck and the Sunset

Buck and the Sunset
Buck and the Sunset

Buck and the Sunset

To capture this image, I luckily figured out that these guys traveled this particular ridge at the same time every day (roughly). I had to be in a position far enough away to get both the sun and the deer in focus under f-64 with this particular telephoto. I also had to be on a parallel ridge that let me climb up backwards up the slope to keep up with the sun setting. The sun of course always cooperates with me. 😜📸

I usually get a few attempts at ridge lining a deer or a group of deer right at sunset. The problem is always how to keep up with the moving sun. The topography controls the success or failure of such adventures.

Disclaimer: To say this was a very bright scene would be an understatement. The human eye couldn’t have looked at this for more than a fraction of a second. Certainly don’t try this with your DSLR camera. I use mirrorless full frame cameras that won’t blind you as your watching video with no straight to your eye light path. Some mirrorless cameras could get a spot melted on their chips if they aren’t rated for this so know your gear. I use sony alpha 7 of various models with no problem. Just never even point a mirrorless camera into the sun without maximum f-stop for the lens selected as a starter. Don’t fry your eyes or your gear pointing a camera into the sun please.

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

Title: Buck and the Sunset

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Speeding Fine of 4 Bucks

Speeding Fine of 4 Bucks
Speeding Fine of 4 Bucks

Speeding Fine of 4 Bucks (Summer 2018)

Whimsical: First of all, I’ve never seen a group of boys hanging out on the corner that didn’t bring an “oh oh” to my mind lol. The big guy (second to the right) is actually pretty big as a Mule Deer’s ears are 22 inches roughly across. I’ve certainly seen bigger bucks. Overall a nice Muley Buck I thought.

OH, I forgot, I’m suspecting they were about to drag race here . My presence shut it down as if by a switch. Instead they walked off slowly with casual glances over their shoulder. More or less continuing to move from one of my water tanks to their grazing areas. By the looks of those bellies hanging down, the food supply is doing well. Yup chubby future hubby for some lucky girl is.

The 35 mph speed limit is just suggestion as maximum speed to them I suspect though it’s the law up here on ranch. There is about 3 miles of county road that crosses across our ground. It makes it MUCH easier to get from one end to the other for everybody up here includeing this batch. They had just left the cleared gravel

I watch well known places of wildlife activity such as watering holes we keep open all year just for wild life. (4). Usually one of them will have stock on it but it’s still open for the deer and anybody else around to use. Everybody needs a place to drink. Wildlife tend to be hard pressed in the winter to find open water.

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

Title: Speeding Fine of 4 Bucks

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Deer Watching Pronghorn Crossing

Deer Watching Pronghorn Crossing
Deer Watching Pronghorn Crossing

Deer Watching Pronghorn Crossing (Headline in any rural newspaper as it’s pretty quiet up here)

With several things going on in this mid-summer capture, you might focus on the Pronghorn diving under the three wire fence. The highlight on which are as bright as I’ve seen lol. It was just the perfect angle. I’m parked about 300 yards down the road. The mother and two fawns were in a hurry to leave my proximity as I just had come to a stop. Pronghorn’s tend to move when you stop. Changes in motion trigger them to move in response as I see it. If your still all the time or moving all the time, your less likely to spook them. Vehicle photography of Pronghorn is much easier than on foot lolol. These American native long distance relative of the giraffe does not appreciate the human form (maybe it’s just me”…😜)

So… Pronghorn almost always go under fences. I read once where they can jump 15 feet high. (I have not see this). I have however seen them go 6 feet. I have less than 10 images of Pronghorn Jumping Fences. I have many more of them going under fences. 📸

This is however, the ONLY image I have of a doe deer “Watching the Technique” clearly displayed here used by countless generations of Pronghorn. Deer of course tend to jump fences.

I can’t tell you how much I want summer back. As I post this midwinter, there is either mud or ice in the backcountry. Iced / melted then frozen snow drifts are really bumpy. Mud is a problem this time of yearI try not to exacerbate by making ruts with my Raptor.

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

Title: Deer Watching Pronghorn Crossing

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Two Bucks for an Alpenglow Show

Two Bucks for an Alpenglow Show
Two Bucks for an Alpenglow Show

Two Bucks for an Alpenglow Show

This is 10 minutes before sunrise this late fall morning when i ran across these two. They were 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 deer 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.

This country is big. I drove about 3 miles out into the backcountry to have these mule deer cooperate while I composed the capture. It’s always good when animals sit for me… The Pink Alpenglow was just a foretelling of the sunrise minutes away. This capture was dead center of civil twilight that morning. The Blue Streak under the pink sky is the shadow of the opposite horizon against the sky. The Pink is the red Light that has traveled hundreds of miles through atmosphere.

We have quite a bit of icy snow at the moment. much more so than the surrounding low country. ….for early march. 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 hight the Wyotana borderlands can be chilly at times lolol. Never a lack of things to take photos of though 📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Two Bucks for an Alpenglow Show

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Mule Deer Big Buck

Mule Deer Big Buck
Mule Deer Big Buck

Mule Deer Big Buck

Boy I don’t get a chance to “zoom into” a big fellow such as this very often. This is after rut so this guy survived the hunt this year. I call this a 4×5 but there are two brow tines you can’t see in this profile that you can sure hang a ring on. There are so many ways to “classify” how “good” a buck is based on his antlers. I tend to focus at the condition of the animal and this guy is one nice buck. I’m thinking it weights 275 pounds anyway.

Big Male Mule Deer go to 330 pounds and the females go to 200 pounds. The are actually indigenous to North America and are known by those distinctive “Mule” shaped ears. The hear extremely well with those big ears. I suspect they use their sense of smell way more though to detect danger. These guys are herbivores. They are survivors of what ever killed all the MegaFauna during the Pleistocene 11000 years ago.

Biologists say that a Bucks neck will swell up as showing the Mule Deer Buck Near Rut capture. They will swell up to 50 percent larger of a circumference adding more muscle mass. This is all related of course to the Rut which is the annual fight to breed. They live in a world of scents and hormones floating in the air from the does in the group.

Scientific data indicates that this growth is caused by a big surge in testosterone to the deer. That dose of steroids makes the neck muscles get big and also causes the deer to become more aggressive. I had a close encounter with a deer in my back yard a few Novembers ago.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Mule Deer Big Buck

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Big Mule Deer Buck

Big Mule Deer Buck
Big Mule Deer Buck

Big Mule Deer Buck

Big Male Mule Deer go to 330 pounds and the females go to 200 pounds. The are actually indigenous to North America. Those distinctive “Mule” shaped ears are obvious. They hear extremely well with those big sound catchers. I suspect they use their sense of smell way more though to detect danger. These guys are herbivores. They are survivors of what in the sequence of events back in the day, killed all the MegaFauna during the Pleistocene 11000 years ago.

Biologists say that a Bucks neck will swell up as showing the Mule Deer Buck Near Rut capture. They will swell up to 50 percent larger of a circumference adding more muscle mass. This is all related of course to the Rut which is the annual fight to breed. They live in a world of scents and hormones floating in the air from the does in the group.

Scientific data indicates: a big testosterone surge causes this growth. That dose of steroids makes the neck muscles get big and also causes the deer to become more aggressive. I had a close encounter with a deer in my back yard a few Novembers ago.

Photographic Musings.

I get to see some nice bucks occasionally. Getting their image is another thing altogether. Usually this is a random event out of nowhere which demostrates Rule #1 of Photography: Have a camera/lens with you. I go out onto the ranch land with a box of cameras as standard accessories. . Each one set up with a different lens. If I wan’t to load up for some special event. My standard photographic field gear lenses collectively cover from 10 – 1200 mm focal lengths entirely and I CAN carry gear to go to 6400mm effectively if I have to. Taken with a 3200mm telescopic/ astronomical refractor telescope. By far the cheapest way to get into really long lenses.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Big Mule Deer Buck

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Two Bucks in Velvet

Two Bucks in Velvet
Two Bucks in Velvet

Two Bucks in Velvet

With all the cold weather lately, this image came to mind that spring isn’t that far away. The sage brush that time of year is a wonderful cyan/green color, the deer have all new coats. Their rapidly growing antlers are covered with the capillary blood vessel rich “Velvet” covering the bone under supplying it with nutrients.

Sometime later in the year they antlers will stop growing. The velvet starts to itch and they will rub those antlers tearing the velvet to ribbons. They will rub on any bush or tree unlucky enough to be in their path. Deer rubs on trees are good signs of deer activity and you can usually tell how recent they were.

Reminder: Photographic Musings (memorize this)

Terms you need to know: (F-stop) is your aperture size. The size of the “pupil” inside your lens. Big pupils (low fstop numbers) lets in a lot of light but your depth of focus is thin and shallow. (the eye is in focus but your ears are not). With a high F-stop number, you get a very deep field of focus/depth of field. The whole face and the trees behind the face are all in focus. This is because a high f-stop number makes a very small pin hole for a “pupil” in your lens. F-stop is one of three settings you adjust in Manual mode. It is a double edged sword, deeper focus field comes from having a small aperture “pupil” which means less light. Light is what your balancing here. The other two settings compensate for what your doing with f -stop in this case.

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

Title: Two Bucks in Velvet

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Three Amigos and a Windmill

Three Amigos and a Windmill
Three Amigos and a Windmill

Three Amigos and a Windmill

So many Satire filled narratives apply to this image with so little time/space. I’m thinking several classical themes here. One of Don Quixote in the lead wanting to dual windmills mixed with Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The second theme is the Three Wise Deer” out of the east. Boy I sure could get off on a tangent with that one.🤔😜

As it turns out this little group of bucks are brothers from other mothers. The one on the left is a 2.5 year old, the middle a 3.5 year old and the leader a 4.5 year old. Small, Bigger, Biggest and all that. Doing compositions while deer are moving is a matter of anticipating where they are going to be and get lined up before they get there. These guys were definitely walking/moving along which tends to quicken the timeline and the “pressure” to get the shot. I did have the ability to move a little and I was at least 100 yards out. As a result of my position I had about 20 seconds of moving and shooting to get the composition.

Photographic musings: Automatic Crap… (there are still layers of software in a modern camera your using I point out that run all the time).

I don’t use autofocus at all. Nor do I use any automatic settings on my camera as I’ve found they get in the way more than they help. The Dreaded Manual Mode turned on, the auto functions turned off…. 2 times the battery life at least. Image stabilization while nice in theory, is something I seldom use. It is VERY battery power use intensive particularly with the really big lenses/apertures. It is my suggestion to turn off all that auto crap including that hidden adjustment. Automatic White Balance. (Google This).

Square to 18″

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

Title: Three Amigos and a Windmill

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Mule Deer Buck at Sunset

Mule Deer Buck at Sunset
Mule Deer Buck at Sunset

Mule Deer Buck at Sunset (Odocoileus hemionus if you must know 😜) From Fall of 2019

Most of my deer encounters are random. I am traveling backcountry two track roads and I crest a hill only to see something like this. I’m always on the way to set up a landscape somewhere at sunset So along the way….. . I am after all a landscape photographer who likes to specialize in close/far perspectives from the viewpoint of a mouse. Being an opportunist and stingy with my time, I pursue animal photography as it occurs. This is in contrast to trying to make it happen.

Now I have at times known where herds were and with definitely intent drove carefully/slowly into the center of the herds with my Jeep Grand Cherokee. My trick is it takes a while, I stop and start the rig, move a bit, rinse and repeat. Look like another grazing animal. It might take me 30 minutes to integrate but heck, I’ve got tunes going😀. This guy tolerated the Engine running, stinky / noisy Jeep Grand Cherokee. I suspect my new ride is just as stinky but I believe it is much quieter.

This bad boy posed for my telephoto nicely. He didn’t even ask for wages / compensation. On the other hand he didn’t sign a model release. This was just after hunting season in this area. He survived… He likely was an itinerant buck just passing through it seems as I haven’t seen him again or since. Big bucks travel many miles in their wanderings.

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

Title: Mule Deer Buck at Sunset

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Fall Buck Walking Through

Fall Buck Walking Through
Fall Buck Walking Through

Fall Buck Walking Through. : In winter the Mule Deer bucks will shortly loose their horns. I’d sure like to find this set. The more I go out the more I find. Funny how that works.

Photographic Musings.

I get to see some nice bucks occasionally. Getting their image is another thing altogether. Usually this is a random event out of nowhere which demostrates Rule #1 of Photography: Have a camera/lens with you. I go out onto the ranch land with a box of cameras as standard accessories. . Each one set up with a different If I wan’t to load up for some special event. My standard photographic field gear lenses collectively cover from 10 – 1200 mm focal lengths entirely and I CAN carry gear to go to 6400mm effectively if I have to. This is a 3200mm telescopic shot out of an astronomical refractor telescope. By far the cheapest way to get into really long lenses.

They have no aperture adjustment (no f-stop /iris/diaphram as it were). Wide open fast lens, short focal Depth of Field as a result. This is an example of being 300 yards out from this really nice itinerant Mule Deer Buck. He was giving me the evil eye anyway and the group he was with did not know me “vwery well” (Emphasis Slavic / European accent’ on the vwery). Having a stupid long 3 foot lens in your back seat is a problem if your rolling around the backcountry in a 4 wheel drive vehicle. Securing it becomes an issue which of course slows bringing it into play. .😜😜📸

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

Title: Fall Buck Walking Through

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Doe See Doe

Doe See Doe
Doe See Doe

Doe See Doe

Watching families of deer grow up is a pass time sub hobby of mine. This doe and her now pregnant yearling is moving along a grassy hill on a parallel ridge to me. They feel safe with me as I’m pretty much just another grazing animal. The group of deer these two belong to are well known to me. IT’s much harder to tell the girls apart than the guys though . A three year old doe looks pretty much like a four year old doe. A year difference in the males will be really obvious. Antler size, shape and neck girth are usually unique in the males. Their antlers are usually similar year by year just larger as they grow older. The older battle tested males have torn recognizable ears unique to the individual.

My tracking of deer individuals is of course informal and spotty. I don’t necessarily see the same group every day. I do recognize groups though as they move around the ranch from haunt to haunt. There are certain places that each herd will tend to hang at. Not reliably but tendency comes to mind. The exception is their daily trek to water which deer being a creature of habit, cooperate in the summer. I’m out more of course in the summer. NIt’s not necessary to

Deer have a gestation of around 200 days, this is a mid-winter snap so I’ve giving her 120 days 130-140 days. . This is probably a yearling doe as older does usually have twins.

Location: Bliss DInosaur ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Doe See Doe

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Buck Enjoying a Yucca Fruit

Buck Enjoying a Yucca Fruit
Buck Enjoying a Yucca Fruit

Buck Enjoying a Yucca Fruit

This image has so much going on. The colors that day were popping with everything being a little wet from a rain an hour before. The flat light making what color is present, pop. Click!

This Buck Mule Deer was hanging out with a couple of gals mid-summer 2019 totally enthused about the Yucca fruit. Here mouth open picking on best way he can. Tongue lolling.

I’m thinking he was unaware he was standing on a weathering boulder of Hell Creek/Lance Formation Sandstone cropping out of the hillside. If I could only train the deer to look for dinosaur fossils. I’d feed them in exchange for information where to look. I mean they always have their eyes on the ground anyway…. Maybe “Sneaky Pete” can arrange a deal ? 😜😜👀📸

The density of Yucca here in the highlands seems to be sufficient to get these guys fat and sassy by the end of the summer. They eat the heck out of the fruit and the flowering parts of the Yucca plant. Yucca is a well defended plant and the primary reason I forbid guests from going into the backcountry without full full leggings on as a Yucca will plumb stick you through jeans let alone shorts lol. It also traps wind blown snow into huge deep drifts around patches of it. If you see a Yucca patch driving in the backcountry, your best served steering around it. The drifts totally supply those desert adapted plants an advantage of water in a semi-arid almost desert we live on. (We get 14 inches of precipitation average per year, a desert has 10 inches or less precipitation a year.

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

Buck Enjoying a Yucca Fruit

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Buck Boys Club Trailing

Buck Boys Club Trailing
Buck Boys Club Trailing

Buck Boys Club Trailing

Only the Yucca and the Highest grass is standing above the snow back in this backcountry cul-de-sac of a valley. I was driving the ridges adjacent to this lower area. I’m able to drive mostly two tracks at the time I type this. It has been drifting a bit in the backcountry lately. Makes it hard on me. Tricky…

I have seen this group around in several familiar locations to them and myself. . These 3.5/4.5 year olds all have known me since the beginning by seeing me out on the ranch land taking photos of their childhood and parents. They have slowly started to really accept me as a another grazing animal. I slowly over time carefully approach deer. They are aware of my new vehicle now. How I approach them is the same. The “trick” is that I drive like I’m a grazing animal. Stopping, moving a little and stopping. No hurry. Might take me 1/2 an hour to get up this close. I’ve actually worked inside of deer herd boundaries before.

I wasn’t destined to integrate with the herd here, the terrain was against me getting to them in the first place. Problematic is the travel noise my rig was making. Too much noise busting over/through snow crust. Crunchy noises are not the best way to make deer comfortable I have determined. Make no mistake these are wild deer. These guys were moving slowly across the landscape trailing to bedding in this late day light. They each to an animal have seen me drive around here in my new rig quite a few times now. Hard to get this close in the snow however.

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

Title: Buck Boys Club Trailing

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Bucks Grazing at Twilight

Bucks Grazing at Twilight
Bucks Grazing at Twilight

Bucks Grazing at Twilight

These 2 Mule Deer Bucks caught in a late twilight Silhouette were up watching the sun go down with me. They were ridge lined and I was able to maneuver way below them about 100 yards out and Click….
I know this these two pretty well as they are brothers born a year apart I’ve watched grow up. There is a 2.5 year old on the right, a 3.5 year old on the left and a 4.5 year old in the center. It’s all about the antlers lol. These boys They are pretty used to me being around but they are still quite wild. They don’t come down to greet me you might say but I can get pretty close if the conditions are right….. As long as I stay in my vehicle anyway.

Next year the bigger of the two will probably be a serious challenge for the other itinerate bucks that wander through. There is a whole little deer melodrama playing out pretty much all year but you really have to watch and pay attention to see it happening. These guys start small and work their way up the ladder to eventually run a small herd of gals.

Remember F-stop?

It was very low light. To freeze them in space and time, you need at least 1/200th second for a walking deer. You either give up Fstop (depth of focus) or ISO (camera sensitivity) I gave up f-stop as the detail in the sky behind wasn’t critcal. Getting a longer depth of focus is what Fstop does along with either letting in more light or taking it away with higher F-stop numbers.

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

Title: Bucks Grazing at Twilight

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Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

Buck Pronghorn Green Spring
Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

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.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

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Snow Frame Deer Does

Snow Frame Deer Does
Snow Frame Deer Does

Snow Frame Deer Does

These two does (mother and daughter) were casually walking across the county road when the young one paused. Perfectly framed by the melt. The morning after the storm this pair was hanging around in the “Bull Pasture” just down the road from our main headquarters gate.

This picture postcard capture in the frost and snow shows a mom with her yearling doe (fawn) .

I’ll watch this pair over the years as the little one grows up. She’s a member of a group that stays close to my homestead using a stock tank in our corral to water. I will be a baby maker in the years to come. She’s about 9 months old now. It’s difficult to ID particular does unless they have split or notched ears. I know their family group though anytime I see them. I’m pretty sure they know me too lolol.

There are many smaller groups of deer that separate from a bigger herd that dispersed in the spring. Now, Mid to late winter shortly after the rut (December) the smaller herds start to join up and by spring I have several herds of 30 or 40 animals running about in different parts of the ranch. Each herd geographically controlled by water availability and location. They don’t care about ranch boundaries so I share some of them with other local boundary ranches.

This is a 800mm telephoto shot. Getting this close without a long lens is usually an accident in the winter. It’s a lot harder to get close to the deer when you can’t get off the road lolol. As I type this it’s REALLY muddy.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Snow Frame Deer Does

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Sunlit Buck Chewing Grass

Sunlit Buck Chewing Grass
Sunlit Buck Chewing Grass

Sunlit Buck Chewing Grass

I know this deer as “Goal Post” I’ve watched him grow up since he was a fawn. He is really obvious as he is missing his brow tine over his right eye. He has already shed his winter coat as he’s looking quite well groomed here. Goal Post is 4 years old here from last spring 2019. He will be 5 in the spring. It will be interesting to see if grows much bigger antlers this year. He has never grown in that brow tine though. He just doesn’t have it in him I think lol.

Familiarity of myself with deer is a photographic asset for me. . His herd is one of several different groups I have been able “get used to me”. I have in the past been able to drive my rigs right into the herd without spooking the group. Intermingling with herds of deer is a very interesting activity to say the least lol. I just traded in my Jeep Grand Cherokee they were used to. Now I drive a Ford F150 Raptor (all black) which they don’t know from Adam. We will see if they are tolerant of the vehicle or not. I’m betting that it’s the way I approach the herd rather than the particular vehicle. I do my best to drive up like a grazing animal. Move, stop for a while, turn a bit, move, stop, move etc. rinse and repeat.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands “Wyotana”.

Title: Sunlit Buck Chewing Grass

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Big Horns Big Antlers

Big Horns Big Antlers
Big Horns Big Antlers

Big Horns Big Antlers

The Big Horn Mountain Chain is one of the largest ranges in Wyoming. Two peaks exceed 13,000 feet in elevation. The far ridge under the twilight sky is a ways out at 130 miles from camera.

Photographic Musings:

Nice buck… it was very low light. To freeze him in space and time, you need at least 1/200th second. It was very dark, you either give up Fstop (depth of focus) or ISO (camera sensitivity) I gave up f-stop and thusly the mountains in the distance are slightly out of focus. Getting a longer depth of focus is what Fstop does along with either letting in more light or taking it away with higher F-stop numbers.

Geologic Musings.

I live and work higher in elevation that most of the ground between here and there. Obviously that is line of sight. That ground in between is called the “Powder River Basin”. Coal from here generates 30 percent of the electricity we use in the country. Wyoming is a HUGE clean coal producing state.

The coal formed there because the WAVE that the mountains and the adjacent basin make. (The earths crust was crushed east/west to make a wave). Erosion wore the much bigger mountains down to where they are today, filling up that basin with alluvial fan carried sediments. Traveling all the way to the edge of my ranch, those alluvial fans covered/filled up that sedimentary basin (think bathtub at the base of the mountains). Lots of swampy conditions in the topographic low area/basin occurred back in the Paleogene to allow coal formation. All the surface geology between my ranch and the mountains is all about things washing off the Big Horn Mountains.

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

Title: Big Horns Big Antlers

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Mule Deer Buck Sunset

Mule Deer Buck Sunset
Mule Deer Buck Sunset

Mule Deer Buck Sunset

We’ll he’s just a 4×4 but he’s framing that bokeh’d sunset pretty well lolol. I see a lot of bucks about, some are impressive, others still growing/maturing. This one is right in the middle. He’s starting to get a thick neck, by next year, he will be a better buck for sure. He did survive the hunt this year (2019).

Big Male Mule Deer go to 330 pounds and the females go to 200 pounds. The are actually indigenous to North America and are known by those distinctive “Mule” shaped ears with a unibrow between. The hear extremely well with those big ears which is how they got their name. Their ears resemble Mules ears. I suspect they use their sense of smell way more though to detect danger. These guys are herbivores. They are successful survivors of what ever killed all the MegaFauna during the Pleistocene 11000 years ago. That was a very big extinction indeed and just 10K years ago.

Biologists say that a Bucks neck will swell up big as showing in this Mule Deer Buck Near Rut capture. They will swell up to 50 percent larger of a circumference adding more muscle mass. This is all related of course to the Rut which is the annual fight to breed. They live in a world of scents and hormones floating in the air from the does in the group. They need the muscle for all the tussle.

Scientific data indicates that this growth is caused by a big surge in testosterone to the deer. That dose of steroids makes the neck muscles get big and also causes the deer to become more aggressive. I had a close encounter with a big buck deer in my back yard a few Novembers ago. This initiated me spending 3 months building a deer resistant fence around the homesetad. That is a long story but both of us walked away relatively unscathed. (I did way better than him). 😇

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Mule Deer Buck Sunset

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Nice Buck Rubbing Antlers

Nice Buck Rubbing Antlers
Nice Buck Rubbing Antlers

Nice Buck Rubbing Antlers (BIG NECK)

During the run up to the late fall Rut, the Bucks do anything they can to build up their necks. Itching their antlers might have something to do with it. This one has already molted it’s velvet off it’s antlers. This particular bush is a deer rub every year I’ve been here. I’m sure it’s been handed down father to son by generations of deer. Poor Bush gets a beat down yearly. It’s probably really old. Tough environment.

Big Male Mule Deer go to 330 pounds and the females go to 200 pounds. Mule Deer are actually indigenous to North America. Recognized easily by those distinctive “Mule” shaped ears. The hear extremely well with those big ears. I suspect they use their sense of smell way more though to detect danger. These guys are herbivores. They are survivors of what ever killed all the MegaFauna during the Pleistocene 11000 years ago.

Biologists say that a Bucks neck will swell up as showing the Mule Deer Buck Near Rut capture. They will swell up to 50 percent larger of a circumference adding more muscle mass. This is all related of course to the Rut which is the annual fight to breed. They live in a world of scents and hormones floating in the air from the does in the group.

Scientific data indicates that this growth is caused by a big surge in testosterone to the deer. That dose of steroids makes the neck muscles get big and also causes the deer to become more aggressive. I had a close encounter with a deer in my back yard a few Novembers ago.

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

Title: Nice Buck Rubbing Antlers

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Just the Highlights Buck

Just the Highlights Buck
Just the Highlights Buck

Just the Highlights Buck

I was able to maneuver around on this buck and get him in the “right position”. . The glare from the sun is very significant in this rarefied light environment. Most cameras would wash out everything. You have to love Sony Alphas… I was working the “Shadow line”. I find where the shadow of the hillside is and “go” there. Adjust for where the deer is and move backwards with the shadow as the sun sets. (the horizon is actually rising at sunset remember ).

Being able to maneuver around with the deer being unconcerned of course is the key to this. In this particular case, I was in a Jeep. I have several sessions similar to this where I was working a parallel ridge several hundred yards away. The deer will even tolerate me away from my vehicle as long as I dress the part and mostly hide my form. I generally am dressed in heavy camo of various kinds depending on the day and how wet it is. I always obscure my human form. I’m still noisy and smelly to them though. Basically I’ve achieved “just another grazer” status with this group. I left them, they didn’t run away from me. If fact I stopped and talked to another rancher down on the county road and pointed them out up on the hill. A rare encounter on a very backcountry road.

We don’t have drive by shootings but we do have a few drive by shoutings up here 😝

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

Title: Just the Highlights Buck

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Bucks Rutting Under Alpenglow

Bucks Rutting Under Alpenglow
Bucks Rutting Under Alpenglow

Bucks Rutting Under Alpenglow

Boys will be boys. They didn’t need a reason to lock horns because their hormones were kicking in. Rut was in late November/early December this year up here in the borderlands. They were, as they say, preoccupied and din’t care much about my presence during this tussle.

These two are the best of friends. Thick as thieves they are. About 5 minutes earlier, they wereresting in the shade of the afternoon together lol. This image was taken about 4 weeks before the rut really started and it was still good natured. They really were working on building up their necks. Those necks will swell considerably the close to the rut they get.

Biologists say that a big Bucks neck can swell up much larger than these boys have currently. From the spring, they can swell up to 50 percent larger of a circumference adding more muscle mass. This is all related of course to the Rut which is the annual fight to breed. They live in a world of scents and hormones floating in the air from the does in the group.

I have followed these two around for several years. These 3 year olds have known me since the beginning seeing me out on the ranch land taking photos of their childhood and parents. Now they are starting to really accept me as a another grazing animal. I slowly over time carefully approach deer. They are aware of old vehicles and how I approach. I drive like I’m grazing stopping and stopping. No I have a new truck so this will be interesting. No hurry. Might take me 1/2 an hour to get up this close without changing natural behavior. I’ve actually worked inside of deer herd boundaries before. I didn’t get a chance to do that this year for what ever reason. Everything has to line up just so for a good day of grazing with the Mule Deer. Running late.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Bucks Rutting Under Alpenglow

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Bucks Enjoying the Sunset

Bucks Enjoying the Sunset
Bucks Enjoying the Sunset

Bucks Enjoying the Sunset

I see a variety of scenes driving the backcountry.

These 2 Mule Deer Bucks caught in a late twilight Silhouette were up watching the sun go gown with me. They were ridge lined and I was able to maneuver way below them about 200 yards out and Click….
I know this these two pretty well as they are brothers born a year apart I’ve watched grow up. There is a 2.5 year old on the right, a 3.5 year old on the left and a 4.5 year old in the center. It’s all about the antlers lol. These boys They are pretty used to me being around but they are still quite wild. They don’t come down to greet me you might say but I can get pretty close if the conditions are right….. As long as I stay in my vehicle anyway.

Next year the bigger of the two will probably be a serious challenge for the other itinerate bucks that wander through. There is a whole little deer melodrama playing out pretty much all year but you really have to watch and pay attention to see it happening. These guys start small and work their way up the ladder to eventually run a small herd of gals.

Yes there is a little pac man on the right center side of frame reaching over the lip… Sort of a Kilroy was here cloud….

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

Title: Bucks Enjoying the Sunset

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Watching over the Deer Herd

Watching over the Deer Herd
Watching over the Deer Herd

Watching over the Deer Herd (Natural Spirit in the Sky). This is NOT art and is Natural as I photographed it. It’s a total anthropomorphic illusion totally done by mother nature. Border Magic occurs..

I love it when an old man in the clouds is overlooking a herd of mule deer up here in the borderlands. Wouldn’t be the first time (chuckles) Spirits in the sky, particular when they are natural will ALWAYS get my attention. Click !. It lasted about a minute then morphed into something not so anthropomorphic lolol.

Heavily Veiled this sunrise was. I was a few hundred yards out. I’ve been able to drive in among this group but I was on another mission that morning. The Light was my target, not deer closeups in low light… The deer herd is one that frequents this hay field for the Alfalfa that grows there. Water is nearby/running. Isolated and peaceful up there. It’s a wonderful place. The trick is to get the local deer herd familiar with your presence. They don’t see a lot of cars/rigs there. So me driving up and moving VERY slowly across a field stop and go. Acting like I’m grazing, eventually wins them over. In 20 minutes I could have been inside the herd like I was just another cow on the prairie.

This was captured mid spring 2019 and I just found the image buried in an”Images to finish” folder. Sitting nested with 1000’s of untouched images that I pulled for eventual evaluation over the last year or so. Somehow this one got past me for 8 months before I re-discovered the capture a week ago. The main problem with having literally years of work already “in the can” is that sooner or later one has to finish those images lolol. I’m stoic about it. My OCD will get them all done over time. Problem is I keep going out and capturing more each day mostly lolol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Watching over the Deer Herd

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Double Mint Bucks

Double Mint Bucks
Double Mint Bucks

Double Mint Bucks

Double Your Pleasure, Double your Fun with Double Mint, Doublle Mint, Double Mint Bucks. (commercial Jingle rolls around in your head lol)

I caught these two brothers crossing the country road. I actually “know” these two having watched them grow up from fawns. One is 4 and the other is 3 years old. Running into them often around the ranch, they have seen me so much that they are “Fairly tolerant” of my old Jeep (anyway). I haven’t seen them since my new ride arrived. No clue how they will react to the new rig. I suspect that they will not let me get too close for a while? Familiarity is a big deal with deer. My old Jeep never pushed or pressured them. They just don’t know that about the new bigger black truck.

I tried really hard to move more to my right. That would have better nest those antlers. . They weren’t in the mood for sitting still for me. Deer are like photographing a 2 year old human. They are very photographic but they don’t necessarily want to sit still for you lolol. These two are thick as thieves they are. “The deer on the right is called goal post and is missing his left brow tine. A male mule deer’s ears are 22 inches wide. I’m curious as to how large he will be next spring but he is starting to put on some neck mass.

These guys with the award for synchronized posing certainly. I’m not sure how they could get more alike without me cloning them in the digital darkroom lolol.

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

Title: Double Mint Bucks