Alfalfa Bloom Game Trail (Back to the Summer Farm in the Winter)
I’m easily distracted by a play of colors and shades in monocultural fields surrounded by less disturbed landscapes. The cultivated field in contrast to the sage and grass natural turf. This particular ground has had european man’s stock grazing it for over 120-130 years and probably longer. But before that this was all native prairie. Still some in the background.
This particular alfalfa field is down low in the Little Powder River valley and tends to be flooded every now and then. It’s on a terrace not far from that small meandering river. The river rises (comes down in local vernacular), and the fields flood in the spring. Snow melt and big rains up stream are the biggest causes for floods in this country.
Meanders result from the river moving back and forth across the landscape over geologic time. A meandering river is one that is NOT cutting down into the sediment and the local geology. (River’s Base Level is a good google phrase). It only can expend it’s energy on the sides/banks as it moves across the valley back and forth. It takes a few years to work across a valley lol. There is SOME gradient to this river so the Little Powder seems to be to be slowly down cutting into the valley floor. Don’t expect the Grand Canyon to form in this Climate during our lifetime. One grain of sand bouncing down the bottom down hill at a time wears down mountains over long enough time. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Location: Near the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
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.
This was captured back in late August when there was some tussling within the local herd. (see how green in August !)
Currently in Mid-winter, Pronghorn have all migrated 20 miles to the south. The Thunderbasin National Grasslands consists of a huge area of unpopulated ground. Thousands of Pronghorn head there in the winter. I drove through there about a week before this posts. I do have some good Pronghorn BIG herd photos from in the grasslands to finish. . My turn around time from taking a photo, then getting it posted is slightly over a week. That is unless I push one into the “line” ahead of others. It’s all telephoto work down in the grasslands. Nothing is close usually and there is only one road through the area that I’ve ever traveled. Vehicular traffic is limited to the main road. Forbidden on the grasslands, big fines for going off road. . The national reserve has hundreds of square miles incorporated.
Pretty much the only large creatures to winter over up here on the remote borderland ridges, are cattle and mule deer. The WhiteTail move down to more reliable water even though we supply it. They tend to be in the valleys for the season not up here.
These younger bucks got caught working out for the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Fall Pronghorn Rut. It’s a single elimination tournament with winner take all. These bucks get along most of the year. They may even hang out “down on the corner” together. But this is as close to a full blown organized
So on an overcast Monday afternoon “Down Yonder by the fence line” 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 Pronghorn Bucks go at it. This appears more casual for the camera I suspect. 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 about 30 miles south to the THunderbasin National Grassland. Pronghorn herds numbering in the hundreds. I had a Old Pronghorn Buck I named “Grunt” that stayed over winter several years but he’s not here this year. 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 an antelope can be tolerant.
Game Trail Camera capture: Pronghorn Buck Under Barbed Wire
I love Pronghorns color in this light. The color of their hide is very close here to the real color they sport mid day. Maybe just a TAD dark but very close. This instead of the “Golden Hour” color of much darker brown. I see a host of images of these guys much darker than I’ve ever seen them in the wild. Title: “Pronghorn Buck Under Barbed Wire”
Running under a barbed wire is risky but moving about 20 mph as he’s doing it…. wow. These guys move through those gaps with hardly loosing any speed. I’ve seen a dozen Pronghorn moving under barbed wire in a few seconds. They don’t mess around when they feel like it’s “time to go”. I suspect someone sounds a subtle alarm and they are “outta here”. Fastest land animal in North America, they have their share of scratches along their back too. I sometimes have image after image like this on a camera as the herds move through. The automatic cameras react to the movement and capture the action.
I’ve seen Pronghorn go OVER fences before but it’s not a common occurrence. Some fen
Game Trail Camera Capture, Meadowlark Fence Line Morning Meeting
I didn’t do anything to this image to “Clean up” the .jpg that a 20 megapixel game trail camera gave me. This will teach you what the problems with the equipment is. “Meadowlark Fence line Morning Meeting”
So from my perspective as a professional photographic artist…. First step is to properly position cameras to catch things. This ended up a WONDERFUL capture with all sorts of quality issues due to equipment. It’s rare to catch 2 Meadowlarks in the same frame this close….😲It is a unique captures for sure. I set up this camera all summer on this fence line brace near a gate with a salt lick nearby. Where you have cows hang out, you get birds . Meadowlarks are my main target but I’ll take an eagle landing if such was meant to be lolol… Anyway, I got this “useable” image. A good catch so to speak…
The problem in Game Trail Camera images (depending on the model of course) is that they tend to not handle delineations between areas of differing contrast very well. Look at the piece of barbed wire off to the right of the post as it goes up to the grey sky. It has a 2-3 pixel white line surrounding the whole thing. The landscape has the same issue between the ridge top and the sky above. A several pixel White line which is tedious and tricky to remove from grass..
Then there is the “Grain” from the automatic camera upping the ISO (camera sensitivity) I could “Smooth” the grain in the uniform sky easily but not on the bird up close which is grainy as heck partially out of focus so close to the camera.
To an image, these game trail camera captures are candid. Natural behavior without a human behind the lens preventing this Meadowlark Fence line morning meeting from even occurring.
I think they are evaluating their mascara too but I’m not an astute observer of such things. Girls will be girls after all 😍 Nothing like a little salad in your tasty first morning drink.. There are lots of aquatic plants growing in that tank. It’s been running for years and it has a constant input of nitrates mostly from bird poop I would think. I should find a native fish that can live in there….. Tasty, aquarium water yummm 😀
Early Morning Reflections:
This Game Trail Camera capture showing two Does partaking of a gift from the Ranch’s pipeline system to get their tasty first morning drink. In the middle of the grasslands miles from the nearest other water source. We placed this old mine equipment tire tank. We obviously try to have water in each of the large pastures cattle rotate to and from. I keep a good strong jet of water running into each tank which usually keeps them open all winter by disrupting the surface and keeping the water above freezing. The heavy rubber is a pretty good insulator too.
These tanks are literally old mining tires repurposed. They cost about 1000 dollars roughly to get, transport and install if you do it all yourself. Of course having a 2 inch water pipeline miles from the main ranch well is a handy thing…. Being close to a coal mining area has it’s spiffs. Most tire tanks are 10 feet in diameter. (wide load lol). Wear a tire out and cut off one side wall, seal the bottom on concrete and put some hard packed old asphalt debris around the perimeter and you have a stock water tank for about 100 years. It’s pretty hard to hurt these tanks with anything short of explosive.
“Pronghorn Bucks Rutting in the Backcountry” is a wonderful capture from a quality Game Trail Camera. I maintain a network of 26 cameras over about 5.5 square miles of both Montana and Wyoming backcountry as our ranch spans the border.
The Pronghorn were rutting in early October and this is just after the Oct 1 snow melted. Freezing nights already many times. Apparently the Pronghorn like it cool :).
Getting this close to fighting pronghorn would be difficult to do even with long telephotos. This particular game trail camera has performed well but each photo has it’s issues and takes me maybe 1/2 an hour every time I finish one just to get rid of the cheap camera problems in the digital darkroom.
Even at Night, Boys will be Boys. Like there just isn’t enough time during the day, these guys are fighting around 10pm one evening right infront of a very good game trail camera in a properly laid out alley of exposure. Too close and you white out the animals. Too far away and you can’t see much. This one was just right but WHAT? I never knew bucks fought in pitch black lolol. I’m always learning new factoids about animal behavior up here…
I can just hear someone now….”OK guys, take it outside…” and this is what they got 😂.
No stars in this night sky, pitch black out, overcast. It get’s as dark as the North Atlantic Ocean up here according to NASA’s map of such things.
For a Trail Camera to pick up this 5×5 buck perfectly in Pitch Black using only a “flash” of Infra-red light, he has to be just the right distance from the camera, the camera needs to be set up for a (capture zone) where the animal is likely to be in focus so moving a big log somewhere to funnel the animals in front of your camera is a good idea if your situation allows. Narrow a gate opening, lower a fence at one spot. Good game trail captures are hard fought for. Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana