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Ford Raptor Backcountry Sunset

Ford Raptor Backcountry Sunset
Ford Raptor Backcountry Sunset

Ford Raptor Backcountry Sunset

I introduce: my new backcountry photo studio “Trail Worthy” workhorse. You locals will see me in this from now on. Please don’t shoot me…..All Black Ford with a camera or two sticking out the window…..Hopefully the animals will accept it….

I have been telling you all that I traded my 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee. That jeep earned it’s “Trail Rated” badge. I’ve been driving it around the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch and surrounding backcountry for 15 years with it. It is now out of my hands. I will miss the old truck. I will not miss the ride quality of a Jeep though. This thing rides like a dream. 35 inch studded Goodrich snow tires for the winter up here. Lots of ice around.

Having said that, that bumpy ride of my youth has mutated to this purpose built specialty truck. This is a 2020 Ford F-150 Raptor. My old jeep had a 320 Horse Power Hemi motor in it and was “quick/agile. This new truck is heavier but has over 450 Horse Power so the power to weight is familiar to me. It is WAY more agile than that jeep however. It might have some potential high center issues due to it’s length but it has full length skid plate underneath. This reduces the possibility of catching grass on fire on the catalytic converter which hangs out over 1000 degrees. Lots of fires under trucks. I’m thinking not so much here. So many crawling features, so little space here.

The only thing the new rig can’t do is squeeze between one gate on my place that the old jeep cleared by inches on either side. This truck is 8 inches wider than a standard F-150. This makes it much harder to tip over. The 360 degree camera system is novel to me. Backing up is MUCH easier. Computer controlled 14 inch travel suspension….Versus maybe 8 inch with the jeep. WOW.

The biggest upgrade here besides the amazing technology incorporated into the system, is the ability for me to actually carry a passenger. I could never do this in my Jeep as it was always full of gear. Not so much as with the securable dry storage is huge with how I configured the bed. “decked”.

I’ve been peripherally involved with 4 wheel drive. I live off road and drive trails daily. I still own 3 Jeeps after selling off my 2005 Grand Cherokee so I wont be without a smaller ride….. The local 4 wheel Drive Club makes the drive up here every few years lol. If you wish, youtube up the 2008 Peterson’s 4 Wheel Drive and Off Road “Ultimate Adventure” video. (an annual video production with 17 professional/semi-pro rig touring one day and 4 wheeling the next for a week). We were stop number 3 I believe with still images from the event here making several Front covers of that magazine’s/media company’s main publication.

Stock Vehicles usually don’t impress me. I am impressed officially to date. It is my new best friend. I have many good memories with my old friend. The king is dead long live the new king! I hope this one lasts as well as the jeep did.

Location: Remote NorthEastern Wyoming/South Eastern Montana borderlands. near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch.

Ford Raptor Backcountry Sunset

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T-rex Tooth in the Rough

T-rex Tooth in the Rough
T-rex Tooth in the Rough

T-rex Tooth in the Rough

Yup, a Tyrannosaurus tooth sitting in the matrix. Wrapping it up for the trip back to the ranch headquarters is the next order of business. There it will be cleaned at my leisure when I get a pile of such things to clean so it’s worth setting up the micro-air-abrasive fossil cleaning cabinet. The black enamel of the tooth is etch by tiny rootlets that covered the surface. The chemical reactions at the rootlets deeply marked the enamel of the tooth.

Fossil Teeth: Selective preservation…

Teeth were “plentiful with many per dinosaur. They often broke off, the new ones erupting from below. Shed teeth were called spitters.They were literally spit out or lost eating. Some teeth passed through the digestive system. Quaintly named (sh**ers) by collectors. I’ve been told by older and more experienced paleontologists the way you tell the difference is their taste…… 😜

Here pictured next to the 6 inch wood awl that I used to dig it out of the Hell Creek/Lance Formation quarry wall. I have a 50 foot long by 4 feet thick in the center, river channel filled with mixed debris. This debris was dropped by the river for a reason. The current velocity dropped enough to leave what it carried here, behind. The bigger/heavier things came out first so we find a lot of big bones. The little things concentrated somewhere else with a lower current velocity.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: T-rex Tooth in the Rough

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Ferruginous Hawks Heading Out

Ferruginous Hawks Heading Out
Ferruginous Hawks Heading Out

Ferruginous Hawks Heading Out

Yet another capture driving along remote backcountry roads up here in the borderlands. I saw these two Raptors talking 30 feet apart on a fence. At this lower f-stop setting, the focal field was about 20 feet deep and these birds a 20 feet apart lol. The left one is closer to me than the right (rear) one. They took off just after I came to a stop and started machine gunning the 1200mm lens.

I’m not a hawk expert and the distinction between Red Tailed Hawks and Ferruginous Hawks seems blurred to me. I suspect somebody knows the answer that will be reading this. Feel free to correct my ID as I’m only about 80 percent sure. The different sizes are an obfuscation.

Random encounters result in opportunistic captures for my photon traps. (cameras). I see them….driving along a gravel road, stopping. Then getting out standing between the door and the car with a 2 foot long lens is a chore best accomplished with some haste. Doing so and not have the birds fly off is a whole different encounter. The chances that both birds would hold their ground on a vehicle incoming at 45 mph is small. 45 is the speed limit on most gravel backroads around here. Then have enough time during all that get a camera up and set properly in manual mode. . Elapsed time less than 20 seconds I would imagine.

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

These Hawks look to be both the same sex… Might be wrong..

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Ferruginous Hawks Heading Out

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Ferruginous Hawks Fence Meeting

Ferruginous Hawks Fence Meeting
Ferruginous Hawks Fence Meeting

Ferruginous Hawks Fence Meeting

A clandestine meeting down Yonder by the fence line was occurring when I interrupted it. I suspect it was a lively discussion of one meeting with two different opinions resultant from it. Just like humans do. There may be some territorial statement ongoing during this capture. That’s good hunting ground behind them. There is about a 100,000 mice and other small voles/prairie dogs/ rodents out there for the taking. Who looks where takes on a big meaning lol.

Yet another capture driving along remote backcountry roads up here in the borderlands. I saw these two Raptors talking 30 feet apart. At this lower f-stop setting, the focal field was about 20 feet deep and these birds are 30 feet apart lol. I’m not a hawk expert and the distinction between Red Tailed Hawks and Ferruginous Hawks seems blurred to me. On bird is definitely bigger than the other. I suspect somebody knows the answer that will be reading this. Feel free to correct my ID as I’m only about 80 percent sure. The different sizes are an obfuscation.

Random encounters result in opportunistic captures for my photon traps. (cameras). I see them….driving along a gravel road, stopping. Then getting out standing between the door and the car with a 2 foot long lens is a chore best accomplished with some haste. Doing so and not have the birds fly off is a whole different encounter. The chances that both birds would hold their ground on a vehicle incoming at 45 mph is small. 45 is the speed limit on most gravel backroads around here. Then have enough time during all that get a camera up and set properly in manual mode. . Elapsed time less than 20 seconds I would imagine.

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

Ferruginous Hawks Fence Meeting

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Dinosaur Dromaeosaur Tooth Serrations

Dinosaur Dromaeosaur Tooth Serrations
Dinosaur Dromaeosaur Tooth Serrations

Dinosaur Dromaeosaur Tooth Serrations

This is a view of a nice tooth on it’s inside concave edge showing clearly the serrations on the edge of the raptor tooth. The serrations weren’t used so much to cut meat but to hold onto meat bitten into. Thusly “ripping” muscle with the neck muscles and the teeth holding on. Rough way to catch fast food. This 66 million year old or so chomper in the mouth of a 8 foot high dinosaur that resembled a bird with teeth and a tail. Most of the rest of the bone structure are very similar to modern birds. The lighter lines on the darker enamel is where capillary roots have chemically etched the tooth’s enamel. This was found close enough to the surface for root action to effect the surface. Another possible explanation is stomach acid has etched the surface of the tooth.

I really enjoy finding nice dinosaur teeth here in the Cretaceous Hell Creek Sands that blanket this ranch. OF the 5 square miles of land we own, MAYBE one acre has fossils on it and there are 25 places that add up to that acre. We do have one bone bed for larger material but this came out of a sandy pit I dug by hand. I find “microsites” sticking in the exposed hillsides that are indeed fossilferous.

Anything that was alive with “hard parts” at the time in the dinosaurs environment is also possible to find. The rivers current sorted fossils by shape weight and size. Thusly concentrating fossils in one spot where the river dropped them. Microsites usually mean small teeth but this honker is an inch and a half long. The glass is 3/16 plate (blue line). That is a glass shelf in my lit display case.

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

Title: Dinosaur Dromaeosaur Tooth Serrations

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Hawks Photobombing My Landcapes

Hawks Photobombing My Landcapes
Hawks Photobombing My Landcapes

Hawks Photobombing My Landcapes is literally a photobomb in real life.

I was of course amazed at the lighting coming from that mornings veiled Sky. Shooting the veiled sun strong enough for silhouettes to form fools the observer to thinking this wasn’t a very bright sky. I’m shutting down the camera to light (high fstop, low ISO, and fast shutter). By Looking at the furnace in the sky, we need a fast shutter. Convenient if a couple of really fast hawks come flying by. 🤔

So I’ve got that camera/long lens set up pointed from about 300 yards back from the Windmill. The trees are Full sized old grown Pines at 30 to 40 feet high but they are 500 yards distant up a slight ridge. Telephoto lenses crush perspective distance. This is a long focal depth of field because of the higher f-stop setting I chose. High fstop takes away excess light AND gives you deep focal fields. (from the windmill to infinity here).

Looking through the eyepiece at the time with fingers on the setting options (3 only in manual mode to learn about). . I had it all focused and as the birds moved through the focus field they lit up on the video screen. The camera highlights things that have high contrast with their backgrounds. This shows focus areas. An advantage of quality mirrorless cameras is that they can tell you things. What you see is what you get with them.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Hawks Photobombing My Landcapes

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Ferruginous Hawk Launching

Ferruginous Hawk Launching
Ferruginous Hawk Launching

Ferruginous Hawk Launching was a lucky capture. Driving country gravel backroads and being a photographer is an interesting driving issue. Be safe at all times is my rule.

Having said that: It is possible at any time that I just might pull over, stop quickly or otherwise change speed. Photographers tend to be a little un-predictable on roads lolol. I saw this guy sitting on this sign and managed to stop several hundred feet away with my car turned about 70 degrees to the road (and not in the ditch). Perfect to rest a long lens out the window. I do keep track of what is around me pretty well and any traffic within a mile lolol. . I was out for over an hour that AM driving backroads and never saw another vehicle. This is typical not unusual. I’ve been out hours covering many miles before and not seen another rig pass or be passed. Only ranchers and oil trucks up here (to pick up oil from the fields).

Please correct me if this isn’t a Ferruginous. I don’t pretend to know my hawks but I’m familiar with raptor anatomy quite well. My collecting raptorian dinosaur material out of the Cretaceous sands that cover my ranch is a good school.. There are even some fossil bird teeth in the ranch collections from the Cretaceous. Teeth of his old great great great great great … grand-daddies lolol. Fossil names/ID’s I’ve down but not so much the extant raptors. I actually didn’t have much time for this capture. I tried to track him but I only got a few clicks and I’m thinking they were too out of focus to use. 😉

To have these random encounter guys stick around long enough to get your camera into play is a gift. I’m tickled to have had this raptor sit for my lens if only for a second.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Ferruginous Hawk Launching

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Hawk on an Electric Pole

Hawk on an Electric Pole
Hawk on an Electric Pole

This Hawk on an Electric Pole was a fortuitous capture. He watched my approach which was slow and jerky (stop and go). 5 minutes later I had his photo. My jeep is indeed a portable blind. He wasn’t concerned about my car but If I got out of my vehicle, I know he would have flown prior to the first good click ….

This is a dark phase one as I’ve seen these guys range from dark to much lighter brown. In all fairness to my ID (I’m not a birder”, his tail isn’t as red as I’m used to in the Red Tail Hawks clan. For all I know he’s some other bird but I’m betting on the Red Tailed Hawk ID for now lolol. I’m a way better photographer than I am an ornithologist (which I am definitely not ).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana.

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Killing Raptor Claw from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch

Killing Raptor Claw from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch
Killing Raptor Claw from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch

This 3 inch killing claw from a good sized Raptorian Dinosaur found here on the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch by me back in 2005. I was digging in an outcrop of Hell Creek Formation here on ranch (private deeded land) and his fell out into my grubby sandblasted hands. These don’t drop out of the rock every day I point out. Only one found in 18 years of working the rocks…I’m still looking for the 10 inch one.

We are covered in Hell Creek Sands. I’m a retired guy/geologist with a paleontologic graduate degree who eventually bought a ranch that only I knew had dinosaur fossil on it. I didn’t know where they were but I knew they were here. …..As soon as the water well people told me that Fox Hill sandstone (the aquifer ) was 500 feet below the surface, I knew as a paleo interested geolgist that the 700 foot thick sequence of the dinosaur fossil bearing Hell Creek Formation would be at the surface. The USGS geologic maps of the area disagreed with me. They were wrong lolol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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A Ghost in the Night

A Ghost in the Night
A Ghost in the Night

This Flying Ghost in the night was no doubt aware of my ducks sleeping about 200 yards over my Game Trail Cameras shoulder.
Based on What I know about that foot diameter electric pole (at least) behind him…..He’s a BIG BIRD…. 1:49AM as I left the time stamps on this one. Just a few days back. Light of a 3/4 moon…

I really enjoy having the game cameras to give me this perspective on some nocturnal habits. I think this is a large raptor but I suppose it could be the same great horned owl I’ve photographed under better conditions with a “real” camera…

Last post of the day, it’s actually Sunday night as I type this. It will post at 9 on the 25th …..

Have a safe night.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana