Talk about pot belly lol. This is certainly a doe that is properly positioned in her world. She has learned to take advantage of the resources offered to her. Our ranch is full of edible plants (to them anyway) and is well watered. She is in a pretty good place with most of the top level predation under control.
Caught her looking up. I had to make some noise to break her focus on the ground. The sun was setting and I had places to be. Deer are less than cooperative to my will usually. I hope they do one thing, they do another. It’s a 50/50 chance most of the time. Fortunately these wild critters tolerate me well in my black pickup (Clever Girl). Having seen me many times out on the ranch land. I thought her expression was priceless….
Note: A fairly big black bear was just taken by a local rancher while it was eating a cow in the backcountry. Less than 10 miles from here just over what I call ridge 4…. Kudos to that ranch. We share the same backcountry with that ranch to the east. I really love being deep into a dinosaur pit with my butt up in the air around here. Makes one a little paranoid…. At the homestead, two decades and no bears…. A bear probably wouldn’t like the electric fence we keep around our facility at all. It has discouraged most creatures touching it since it’s inception lol.
Seeming oblivious to my presence, this is Jane Doe again munching some tasty morsel off the bone dry ridge top. Her twin fawns I’ve watched growing up this summer are just off frame on either side. She has been a good mother. I actually have unfinished photos of her from last year discovered in my “to do” folder this AM.
This particular evening the three were on Rattle Snake Ridge. The first tall ridge north of our homestead. I was heading up to this high point above them. I stopped a few minutes along the way to enjoy the view of this family gathering. This ridge is a 200 foot high erosional remnant standing above the grassy flats below. The good thing is there is a very firm path that isn’t that the type of ground to turn into mud. Don’t get off the path though lol. There are areas of “Gumbo” bentonitic clay soil around. Driving over such when wet
The mom here is starting a seasonal molt giving her a mottled appearance. This is not mange. This was taken in warm weather so no need for a thick coat just yet. All deer go through this each late summer. IT’s the deer equivalent of a T-shirt. The new hair will grow in quickly and thick. The coming winter is just the wheel spinning around again from my perspective.
Here I caught Jean Doe (cousin of Jane Doe but misspelled… same letters…) with a game trail camera. Nice notched ear. You see, this was taken with a 360 degree camera that swivels internally toward movement. From detection to first click is about 2 seconds. Just enough time for a curious doe to look at the source of the whir with the corresponding click. The candid nature of the captures more than make up for the image issues from the Game Camera.
Now standard as a game trail camera capture, it’s an edgy image. . It’s a little overexposed in the sky, some movement blur on her face. None the less, I thought this was a REALLY good Game trail acquisition. Strictly an automatic camera capture too. It’s all about how you plant them and where.
It’s probably only going to be an 18 x 18 final though. Maybe smaller. But I’m loving the look of Jean’s innocent curiosity taking over. She is not perceiving a threat here. I just think she doesn’t understand how that “stump” (camo’d camera) moved and made a sound. Magic is high technology that is not understood. They get used to cars driving by but audible noise from a human contrivance is definitely interesting it seems. Her magic for the moment suffice to say. I constantly am amazed around here by unique scene appearing seeming at another’s will. Certainly I don’t do magic. I do sure as heck try to record it when it happens in front of my gear……
Sometimes the lighting just has to control your compositions. Backlighting makes it difficult to capture detail on the shaded side. Many cameras cannot discern the subtle textures and shades of brown/black in the shade. Literally the gear makes the difference in a capture in this lighting environment. You get what you pay for is very true with cameras unfortunately.
The Whitetail mother deer well fed from her forays out onto it’s ranchland, is browsing for edibles closer to her water source. Our corrals have water 24/7/365 for them and have for two decades. This mother was raised here and her mother before, rinse and repeat. Raised on water we pump out of Cretaceous Beach Sand. The dinosaur having walked on it a few years back. Walking on corral that was bull dozed in the mid-1960’s on top of an old Cretaceous River Sand and associated shales. Those shales are complete with leaf fossils from the surrounding forest.
The deer of course is not concerned what she is walking on or where the water comes from. She is concerned with the moment. The flow of her life will provide the direction she needs past the present. All without much consideration on her part. The circle is turning for her. It’s humans that concern ourselves with the price of things next week. The consequences of our actions are a grey area to us. I’m pretty sure a deer has a definite understanding of right and wrong choices. Wrong always has a bad ending to a deer. Being grey, human feel luckier and somehow above it. But the circle is always turning. 👀
Boy I wish I was that flexible. I can actually touch my toes standing but my neck isn’t quite this flexible I’m thinking. Bending sideways that much gives me the willies as I’ve had back surgery already. Somethings you just have to itch lolol.
This wondrous lighting scenario was during a very late day. This doe and her group were coming into our corral system to water up for the night. It’s a daily routine but I’m not usually nearby with a telephoto. I can’t tell you the number of things that happen right under my nose every day. There are so many happening going on up here at any one time. Deer about, Pronghorn about, Cattle about, Chickens, Ducks, Dogs and Cats. LOTS of various small animals and birds live in this habitat. But yet at the same time it’s all about being there with a camera at just the correct place in time and Space. Rule #1 of Photography: Have a camera with you.
The Whitetail deer are more gracile than the Mule deer. Their ears are smaller. There is NO black on their tail either. Mule deer have huge ears with a black tipped tail on the other end. Whitetail are a LOT smaller. This one is very well fed (not pregnant) late summer with a big fat belly to show for her effort. It’s going to be a very long winter (bad) if this year keeps on giving… Maybe that will kill the grasshoppers. 😜 Think “winter is coming” (classical reference).
A full frame capture of a Plump White Tail Doe (tending for a young just off screen). Note NO black on the tail? Not a mule Deer plus the ears are not right either. Taken in one of our corrals, there is a watering hole that is open 24/7/365. Many deer winter over due to the presence of flowing water. They would be forced down river to find fast flowing water otherwise. I bet we water 50 critters not counting birds most days over 4 tanks. Each in different location watering an area of about 3 square miles. I’ve built a little water jet that always keeps the tank open (so far through 1 winter). It saves a LOT of money pumping water.
The critters don’t mind at all. I’m waiting for one of my game trail cameras catching someone drinking out of the water jet lol. I’m still trying to figure out how these guys get in and out of the corral. They get into this enclosure earlier than I like to get up. I couldn’t catch them with conventional gear anyway lol. Too dark that time of morning. I use game trail cameras for that kind of thing usually.
I have all sorts of wildlife encounters around the stock water tanks. More time needs to be spend around those tanks. So many hours in the day….
The wisdom of the Mother deer is evident in it’s quick glance over her shoulder to check on me. We surprised each other. I instantly stopped, the engine stopping in in my truck automatically. Suddenly I’m a parked car with a big eye sticking out of the side window. With me popping over the ridge. The startled fawn quickly running toward it’s mother for advice. Mother who had seen this trick before from me, casually checked me out before continuing to graze. The fawn sensing her “at ease”, hung out for a few seconds unsure. The young ones are starting to think for themselves at 3 months old. That’s the human equivalent of a 4 year old for Deer Mothers.
I considered whether to put this as the second image in my posts today. That is high praise from me for a deer photograph lol. Deer images mostly are relegated to the 3rd or 4th spot…. In otherwords, I love this image….. It might just be me… Or maybe it s the little hole in the Does left ear. (just checking to verify your “Seeing” and not just looking) 📸
Photography is about freezing those moments of space and time to preserve them for future purposes. I’m never sure how my images are utilized. This one will likely be a painting by someone within a few days I’m sure.
I am pretty sure there are 100 narratives that could apply to this face. Priceless. I find deer are quite expressive in their looks. Eyes open wider with interest. Ears are like radar to the deer. They can hear you hick-up from 100 yards out. This taken out in one of our corrals which has been un-grazed this year but for the deer. I was standing in my “front” yard within our “deer resistant” fence line. That corral has a water tank that we keep open 24/7/365 for anybody that needs a sip. Nearby gullies provide cover and the huge fields of grass a source of food.
The Mom has already had her fawns (in the corral with her). She just looks pregnant being well fed around the house. She just filled up with water too. They are not stressed up here. They scamper off pretty quickly if so. We have a hoop greenhouse not 50 feet away full of goodies but the 7 foot high electric fence tends to keep most creatures out. Only the creatures that know how to operate the gate, can fly over and grasshoppers get in there. :(. IT’s been a tough grasshopper year on top of all the rest…. 😔
While this is a telephoto image on a high end camera, I do keep game trail cameras by that water tank in this “enclosure” however… I’m about to check them after 3 months so stay tuned for several deer families with fawns. Most mornings very early I see small groups of deer come and go from that water tank. There should be hundreds of good captures.
When you watch a mother deer with her fawn, you can see the love. They interact constantly. Once the novelty of me being within telephoto range has passed, natural behavior starts to return. No more suspicion of the intrusion into their world remains as I watch the mother reach over and nuzzle her baby. I’m not so sure the fawn was stressed in the least. I’m thinking the mother was reassuring herself that the fawn was OK. This was at least 5 minutes after I started photographing them. I’m doubting she was very stressed as the photo session continued for at least another 1/2 hour. I drove off leaving them approximately in the same place as when I drove up. I can usually do this kind of work without chasing them off.
If I scare animals (bad plan). I don’t get to photograph them very long and then only their backsides as they run away. So stealth, patience and don’t push are my techniques.
These guys way laid me on the way to photograph a sunset. I often randomly encounter wild animals on my trips around the ranch. I have been known (rarely) to go up a hill with a FLIR (Forward Looking Infra-Red) high resolution thermal viewer looking for body heat. It is rare I LOOK to find animals to photograph. They almost always just appear during my daily chores and photographic trips. I consider myself a landscape photographer even as all these critter photos grace my portfolio.
I sure had to look twice at this. Ok, three times…. Maybe it’s just me….. 😜 It sat in my “Images to finish” pile for a few weeks, it kept popping up. I finally gave in and finished it. First of all it was VERY colorcast by the last seconds of the day sunlight painting the scene. IT was horrible to color correct back to reality. The illusion / confusion is just so durn unusual that I had to give in. Usually I’m placing problem children like this at the 6PM post position lolol.
Doing some quantity of photography of ungulates, I often get interesting “alignments of deer or Pronghorn. Usually easily when they are in herds. These two were all by themselves. I was actually quite a ways out from them. Having said that, the back doe wanted nothing to do with me having never seen a big black truck around before. They were out by some salt blocks mooching off the ranch.
Ranchers do a LOT more for the wildlife than most non-ranchers understand. Feeding our cattle supplements birds, mice, deer, pronghorn and all the creatures that in turn eat on those. For Instance: We have kept 4 stock tanks open 365/24/7 for 18 years now. Believe me in this cold country, unfrozen water keeps these guys alive and around here. We pump that water which takes electricity. We only need to keep one tank open for our stock.
The deer are known for eating into hard collected haystacks. Powder River and Little Powder River Drainages are all rich in deer. An equally large number of partially eaten hay bales in stock yards lolol. Wildlife management is very important. Sometimes supporting them just a little makes it all possible. Take off the edge so to speak 🤔 .
The color of Alpenglow here in the borderlands of Montana and Wyoming (both states in photo) depends on the physics of the moment. Peach and Cranberry are what I consider the rarest of colors. This peach color is one I rarely see.
I study light plus the processes that facilitate it’s delivery to my photon traps (cameras). This Mule Deer Doe was attune to my presence but hardly concerned with it as there is a lot of elbow room around here. She was chewing on some rose hips by the looks of the brush she’s standing over. Chewy and she was putting some effort into it lol. This time of year the backcountry is full of tasty morsels.
You will note the marked brown color of the grass here in mid-july. This is going to be a big fire year unless the rains start falling hard and fast. We got clobbered July 5th by a Hail Storm throwing a 1/2 hour of 2-3 inch chunks at the grass. The grass this year between the grasshoppers, the hail and the drought is going to be a tough crop to bring in. Running the machinery will hardly if at all pay for the fuel to do so. Having said that, I just spent close to 1000 dollars getting our ranches 5 ton grass fire truck up and running. That truck is a post all by itself someday.
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.
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. 🤔 👀 📷
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.
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. 😜📸
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. 😜👀
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. 😔
During the early spring, Whitetail turn a wonderful light tan color. The shedding of their winter fur is mostly over here but she still have some divots in her coat. A silky light tan to white look is the rule for healthy animals.
I actually don’t see a lot of Whitetail up here. I’m not that fond of them as they chase the larger Mule Deer Away when they move in. The Mule Deer are MUCH larger and less spooky. IF one has to hunt for any reason, most (certain me) would prefer to take a Mule Deer for the same priced tag…. We don’t have BlackTail Deer up here like you left coast residents.
I seldom can get close to them. I caught this one driving by her in the backcountry. Then she had to cooperate lolol. I’m not able to track over time these guys like I can follow the growing Mule deer. Whitetail are MUCH more shy in my experience. Quick to run from you as well. Having only a few second. Having Cameras generally pre-set up for wildlife photography is a good thing BTW…. . This was very early in the morning just a few minutes after the sun cleared the high ridge over my right shoulder. The shadows were very long and the unfettered sun was quite bright.
This is a long lens telephoto shot of course. I haven’t worked out a deal with them to sit for 55mm portrait lenses to date. I’ve heard that “Sneaky Pete” the windmill is working on that diplomatically…… (years long narrative if your now lost). 😜📷
The mother deer/fawn were aware of my presence and I of theirs. She took the initiative upon my presentation of a long lens out of my vehicles window. Getting deer to cooperate with me in the backcountry where I come into their domain is difficult at times. Finding myself down slope with a deer family ridge lined between me and the sun is less than a common event. Though I must admit that my travels tend to promote such encounters. I’m thinking they weren’t quite as thrilled as I was lol.
The fawn here with mother leading caught in a during a later golden hour. Earlier they were up higher on the ridge watching the sun go down with me. I was able to maneuver way below them set up about 200 yards out and Click JUST as they started moving lolol. ….
She is pregnant of course with this years new fawn. The yearling trailing will be cut loose as soon as the birth occurs. Then it will be on it’s own…There is a whole little deer melodrama playing out pretty much all year but you really have to watch and pay attention to see it happening. These yearling start small and work their way up the ladder to eventually run a small herd of gals.
Disclaimer: To say this was a very bright scene would be an understatement. The human eye couldn’t have looked at this for more than a fraction of a second. Certainly don’t try this with your DSLR camera. I use mirrorless full frame cameras that won’t blind you as your watching video with no straight to your eye light path. Some mirrorless cameras could get a spot melted on their chips if they aren’t rated for this so know your gear. I use Sony alpha 7 of various models with no problem. Just never even point a mirrorless camera into the sun without maximum f-stop for the lens selected as a starter. Don’t fry your eyes or your gear pointing a camera into the sun please.
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.
A little out of season but it helps me to keep the spring in perspective. This last winter was 6 months long. It started Oct 1, 2019 and is just ending here in early May. Green Grass is upon us.
Taken 2019, this image has been sitting around in a “To Do” folder for about 6 months. I’ve got older images than that to finish. Job security on those days when you don’t quite have enough newly taken images that are worthy of your or my time. There have been a lot of ‘clear sky’ days of late which I tend not to work very much. This particular day was an exception however.
The Grass was totally coated with Rime snow and frosted beyond my normal experience. The Buck was in rut thusly pursuing the doe scenting the air actively at the time. Generally the temperature was up among all the bucks hormones flowing freely in the air.
The fairy tail landscape was so bright that even the sparkles in the foreground appear muted by comparison. The “reflectivity” of the landscape was about as high as I’ve ever seen it that morning. The effect is not as obvious here in this capture but to call this a sunglasses moment would be appropriate. I was trying to capture the sparkles in the foreground and had to keep the exposure dark (ish) to show them off. They were phenomenal to me at the time.
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.
Sometimes I actually have time during an encounter with wildlife to compose the image. The Ying and the Yang of this stood out “Biggly”. This gal was 50 feet above me and about 200 yards out. She was walking slowly unafraid of my presence. Then she paused and surveyed all that lay before her. This high ridge has AMAZING views off to where she is looking. I have to think that she is aware and appreciative of the vista I share with her daily. I believe to the depths of my soul that I have seen deer watch the sunset right along with me. Enjoying the whole show. I’m usually trying to get them between me and the sun lol. Occasionally I’m trying to be between them and the sun. Either way, I’m always maneuvering for the “angle” lolol. 📸
Certainly she is quite aware of her environment. Enhanced smell, excellent hearing with those big mule shaped ears with eagle eyes/excellent night vision. I’ve watched deer carefully as my photographic OCD brings me into close proximity with them regularly. They have “watched” me too lol. There is a certain amount of familiarity the local deer herds have to me and my vehicles. They are still wild have no misconception about that. They just think of me as another creature out here that has never done them any harm. A good photographer will never scare or ‘push’ the animals. You won’t get another chance to take their photo later if you do.
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.
This 18 inch square aspect capture is of the “Ideal” family of course. Papa behind his velvet covered antlers just starting to grow in the early spring. Momma next (with a bun in the oven). Last but not least is Junior, a yearling doe a splitting image of her mother but smaller. Yup, they see me but they went back to grazing in the fresh green rocket fuel (grass).. I had to make a noise to get them all to look up. After a few times, they ignore that lolol. By mid-late summer I’ll be working them from inside the herd. 📷📷
This small group and a few other spent the winter together near our homestead. They take advantage of the water troughs we keep open all year to stay up in this high ridge line ranch. It’s dry up here in the winter with little open or flowing water for their use. We keep 4 watering tanks open all winter up here for anyone that comes by.
All my deer encounters are random. They never know when I’m heading out and I don’t know where they are hanging out. They have a pretty good range this time of year. Quickly they can move a mile from where they were a mere 5 or 6 minutes before. Many of the deer that live around here recognize my vehicles. Certainly the vehicle is a mobile blind albeit a noisy/smelly one. No human form presents itself to the wildlife so by mid spring, they become accustomed to the black truck that moves like a Black Angus, appearing to be a grazer. If ever you decide to try to skirt deer or Pronghorn, you will figure out quickly that won’t work lol. Just approach like your eating grass, move a little, eat some more, rinse and repeat.
You will probably find where the Deer’s line in the sand is that way.