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Crimson Butterfly by Frank Bliss

Crimson Butterfly by Frank Bliss
Crimson Butterfly by Frank Bliss

Crimson Butterfly by Frank Bliss

(ART… Did I mention this is ART?? ). a mirror/mirror reflection.

All work and no play makes frank a dull boy. So Every once in a while I will do create one of these works. One needs to have just the right image. I actually look for scenes that lend themselves to this. But I often don’t take the time to do the work being busy with photorealism instead.

Dramatic sunset through the eyes of a all seeing creature? Perhaps a Butterfly with two yellow spots on it’s orange wings. The original photo was a good image to say the least. I figured two image for the price of one would be an appropriate response. Some may see a malevolent eyes here. Rorschach would be jealous of this one. A nearly 3 dimensional Ink blot in full color courtesy of mother nature is a lot of fun to create.

I always like to enlarge / zoom in to the image to look at the “totem pole’ that runs up the center of the image. There are always a host of creatures that develop as a result of the mirroring. Human brains associate bi-lateral symmetry with creatures of all kings. We see two glowing dots in the dark, our mind fills in the blanks. Seeing patterns in random data is called Pareidolia. 100 years ago such tendencies might get you put in an asylum as a psychotic. Now we are training computers to do facial recognition all over the globe.

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

Title: Crimson Butterfly by Frank Bliss

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Meadowlark All Ruffled Up

Meadowlark All Ruffled Up
Meadowlark All Ruffled Up

Meadowlark All Ruffled Up ( a bit out of season but surely welcome. I’m tired of the ice/mud this year ).

Taken under EARLY morning yellow sunlight adding a colorcast to the entire image. I was just digging the Orange Lichen on the post. It takes a long time (decades) for that much to grow. The old cedar post could be 114 years old as it’s fairly close to the homestead. There are a lot of very old posts in the backcountry. We have 30 miles of fence that I have done some repairs on a time or two. 😜

The tendency of a Meadowlark encounter is to be random. They occur often while driving in the backcountry along fence lines. I often am traveling along a two track backroad only to see 50 foot ahead a meadowlark on a fence. If you stop too close, they will fly away. But if you stop “just right” and don’t move at all, they won’t fly for a while. If you move AT ALL once you come to a complete stop, they will fly quickly away. This is a law of nature that I’ve only seen ONE bird out of hundreds ignore. He is another story. This is a wild Meadowlark way out in the backcountry. Drove up on him.

This guy was very tolerant of my Jeep as it approached. I stopped about 20 feet away. At that distance, with an 800mm fast lens, I can focus on his eyelashes. The hard part is getting 20 feet away from a wild bird. They frequent this whole area with 5 or 10 birds an acre sometimes. I’ve seen a bird fly every few seconds before driving two tracks. If I go slow, their songs permeate the quiet. Up here it can be so quite that you can hear your heart beat. Not during Meadowlark season lolol. They are all gone now for southern Climates as we are sub-arctic at the moment.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark All Ruffled Up

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Sunrise Silhouette Trees and Rocks

Sunrise Silhouette Trees and Rocks
Sunrise Silhouette Trees and Rocks

Sunrise Silhouette Trees and Rocks

It’s about 20 minutes of traveling 2 track trails to get to this location I call sunrise ridge, I set up there high above the valley just over that lip waiting for that mornings stage show. This opening act was pretty much put on for my benefit alone. Mother nature takes care of me if I tread lightly but often I have discovered. There is something about paying dues, going out to chase the light regularly will pay off sooner or later. This winter I’ve been working on a lot of my older photographs. I haven’t gone out for “common” skies of late. Worse, the mid-late January Thaw we just went through has softened the back country soil considerably. The top 4 inches of topsoil are pure soup with some grass roots mixed in at the moment lol . Right now I leave deep foot prints just walking in the backcountry.

We actually need a freeze and a series of five or six 4 inch snows over a month to entice me to go out at the moment. I’m working Wyotana roads when ever I get away from the ranch of course. This winter will be one of getting the rest of my portfolio finished and on the web. I’m mixing and matching new and previous images all winter so bear with me.

Note/Announcement:

I might have to reduce the total number of images I produce a day from 6 to 5 shortly. I’ll loose the last post of the day at 9PM and move the 6pm to 7 pm. Producing 6 finished print a day is a serious amount of work. I’ve done that every day since Sept 21. I don’t have enough time to get everything else done 😔

Location: Bliss Dinosaur ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. *Wyotana)

Title: Sunrise Silhouette Trees and Rocks

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B1B Fly Over Composite

B1B Fly Over Composite
B1B Fly Over Composite

B1B Fly Over Composite

So I’m driving up a steep hill to the east in my Polaris Ranger Crew UTV . That hill obscured my view of the horizon so I didn’t see this coming. I did have a box -o-cameras next to me that I had set up for the conditions. I usually keep one on fast shutter/ lower fstop and at infinite focus. The camera was idling but not full on as they power down after about a minute. They keep their settings and take between 1 and 2 seconds to become useful upon tapping the shutter button (wake up camera).

So this 200,000 pound strategic bomber crests the hill RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME bigger than life, I was driving… I saw it, reached over instinctively and grabbed a 24-135 lens on a sony alpha 7RII out of the box. I manually clicked as it wasn’t set to machine gun. Didn’t have any time. I just pointed and clicked, never looked through the lens or at the alignment. Pure muscle memory I’m thinking. No active thought involved. Luckily I managed to get these 7 captures of a 450 knot aircraft that I had no warning of it’s approach until it was on me. UTV’s are loud moving across the prairie but this guy 1000 feet over head was eye opening. Something about roughly 1000 horsepower that is recognizable at a distance but my passenger and I had no warning . The swept wing jet was moving right along as he peeled right and disappeared into the cloud deck.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: B1B Fly Over Composite

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Windmill Photobombing Crepuscular Sky

Windmill Photobombing Crepuscular Sky
Windmill Photobombing Crepuscular Sky

Windmill Photobombing Crepuscular Sky

This Crown Sky during mid-civil twilight (about 15 minutes after the sun went down that night) is a pretty rare sky event. I’ve only been able to photograph a half dozen crown skies this good in 30 years. This is the second from mid -twilight with the sun well below the horizon by a few sun diameters by the time this was taken.

It was dark. I didn’t enhance the colors, this is a time exposure of about 3 seconds which tends to enrich colors a bit. I adjusted them to where I remembered them. This is a night sky after all… I will work a “promising” sunset from early Golden Hour to late Civil Twilight. Longer if the sky show lasts longer. Reverse that for morning / sunrise. Sometimes I work from my yard, other times I’m way out in the backcountry. Hard to know what the skies are going to do.

Science Musings:

The light rays reaching toward the heavens. Scientists call them Crepuscular Rays. Those photons bounce off ice in the atmosphere. The travel to my camera lens. Within the camera’s sensor, they are dutifully recoded but only as a series of 1’s and 0’s. All by the computer in the camera. There a variety of software programs (filters if you will) effect the digital signal in various ways determined by a programmer overseas. If you select automatic, those are the guys doing the camera adjustments not you. . Try manual mode sometimes…… You do the work…. Only three main things to learn….. Just saying. (ISO, F-STOP and Shutter Speed)

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

Title: Windmill Photobombing Crepuscular Sky

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Killdeer Oscar Performance

Killdeer Oscar Performance
Killdeer Oscar Performance

Killdeer Oscar Performance

I think this is the only acting photo I have of Killdeer. Performed so much I’ve ignored it photographically lol. They are pretty spooky. They literally live in my yard, nest nearby or on the prairie.. Of course the same injured bird ritual rinses and repeats. Shooting through grass has it’s issues but this is a fun image none the less. Getting within a hundred feet of a nest without a big scene occurring is unlikely. I got lucky with this one.

I knew where the nest was having run across this Killdeer and mate earlier that week. (early summer). I even have photos of the eggs sitting on gravel/grass. Nothing fancy for sure. There is a lot to be said for working out of cars/vehicles. Much better than a regular blinds because vehicles have radios news and tunes. 🤠 The birds don’t care as much for as long. Back to normal behavior shortly if your in a vehicle and park near the nest.

We live integrated with all these animals up here. Everyone has their place. These guys seem to be happy where they are whether in my yard or on the prairie. I watch them set up nest (I’ve got egg photos on rocks). They have chicks, (photos of lots of chicks). I follow them all summer through that August gathering season. I might see 30 or 40 of them in a flock at that time. About the time I see them again, I will know that it’s just about spring.

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

Title: Killdeer Oscar Performance

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Perspective Snowy Seeder Sunset

Perspective Snowy Seeder Sunset
Perspective #8: Antique Deering Seeder's Early Winter Chill

Perspective Snowy Seeder Sunset

As the snow moved into the region this fall, here in October, there was still green grass around. Not so much now in early January. Brown and White season is upon us. It’s a mix at the moment. Most of the foot of snow we accumulated turning to ice over a couple of warm days a few weeks back. January can be quite cold up here in the Wyoming/Montana hinterlands.

This old antique is immune to the cold, unaware of the beauty around it. There is a 180 mile across horizon to horizon sky it enjoys. I’m sure glad it is sitting on a ridge top with a view.

This is a slightly uphill aspect this late in the year with the sun so far to the south. If I stood up, I could see the horizon but not from ground level. The sun here was diving into a cloud bank that ultimately would cut my photo session shorter than I would have liked. Mid-Winter, this location can be unreachable by Jeep. We will see how the new truck does busting drifts. 35 inch studded snow tires and a lot of ground clearance is a good thing for this environment I have discovered.

The high ridges I work in this country are a constant source of amusement for me. I never know exactly who or what I’m going to run into. I have random encounters with a host of wildings virtually every trip. Then there are the staples like this old seeder hanging out

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

Title: Perspective Snowy Seeder Sunset

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Springtime Whitetail Doe Climbing

Springtime Whitetail Doe Climbing
Springtime Whitetail Doe Climbing

Springtime Whitetail Doe Climbing

During the early spring, Whitetail turn a wonderful light tan color. The shedding of their winter fur is mostly over and a silky look is the rule for healthy animals. I don’t see a lot of Whitetail up here. I seldom can get close to them. Automatic cameras managed and placed in the correct location is the start of this process. Then the deer have 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.

The Game Trail Camera I used for this is one of the more expensive rigs I have in my arsenal. I don’t talk up or endorse any particular brand but this one take quite good images as far as saturation and color intensity. These kind of game trail camera captures are the exception and definitely not the rule. Having a camera in the same place for a long time can lead to a whole series of encounters. Placement is the only thing you really have control of. Most of the Game Trail Cameras you get only have three or 4 settings you have any effect on. They are more or less automatic cameras and your lucky to get 1 out of a hundred images of any use. This one is the exception to that un-written rule.

2×3 Aspect Ratio to 36 inches.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Springtime Whitetail Doe Climbing

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Buck and Doe Whitetail Deer

Buck and Doe Whitetail Deer
Buck and Doe Whitetail Deer
Buck and Doe

Buck and Doe Whitetail Deer

During the early spring, Whitetail turn a wonderful light tan color. The shedding of their winter fur is mostly over and a silky look is the rule for healthy animals. I don’t see a lot of Whitetail up here. I seldom can get close to them. Automatic cameras managed and placed in the correct location is the start of this process. Then the deer have to cooperate lolol.

The buck has it’s growing antlers covered with “velvet” which carries the blood supply to the growing bone. He has a ways to go before these antlers get interesting to hunters. He looks like a 2 year old to me but they might get bigger. I’m not able to track over time these guys like I can track mule deer. THey are MUCH more shy in my experience.

The Game Trail Camera I used for this is one of the more expensive rigs I have in my arsenal. I don’t talk up or endorse any particular brand but this one take quite good images as far as saturation and color intensity. These kind of game trail camera captures are the exception and definitely not the rule. Having a camera in the same place for a long time can lead to a whole series of encounters. Placement is the only thing you really have control of. Most of the Game Trail Cameras you get only have three or 4 settings you have any effect on. They are more or less automatic cameras and your lucky to get 1 out of a hundred images of any use. This one is the exception to that un-written rule.

2×3 Aspect Ratio to 36 inches.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderland

Title: Buck and Doe Whitetail Deer

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Pony Up It’s Cold

Pony Up It's Cold
Pony Up It's Cold

Pony Up It’s Cold

This beautiful little Shetland Pony was standing in it’s corral by the backcountry road I was on. Smart ponies I understand. This is not my equine but was a Christmas present I understand at a neighbors place.. An endearing face certainly. Most of us consider any equine less that 14 hands a pony. The tallest allowed for the Shetland breed is 11.5 hands here in America. I’m not an expert on these horses but I do read there are 4 breed types.

These guys were BIG in the coal mining industry in the UK as they were small enough to pull wagons of coal in a small space. They moved into the mines when the use of Women and Children was outlawed. I sincerely believe these horses rarely saw daylight out of the mines. Their power to weight ratio is way higher than a bigger horse.

The Celts brought the breed into the English Isles where they were bred to adapt to the harsh climate. They were first domesticated around 500BC and centered around the isolated Shetland Islands north of the Scottish Mainland. This isolation protected their genetics from more “modern” hybrid animals elsewhere. Those early horses carried a lot of coal and peat for the locals. Tough little wagon pullers they are.

This little fellow was far from cold in the -14 degree air he was enjoying. They have a double coat, better than what I was wearing at the time lol.

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

Title: Pony Up It’s Cold

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Sunset over the Boulders

Sunset over the Boulders
Sunset over the Boulders

Sunset over the Boulders

Trees growing out of boulders are always a photographic target . Particularly with a LOT trees growing out of boulders. On the crest of this backcountry ridge, is a hard cap rock that has resisted erosion thusly protecting the rocks below. This is ALL Hell Creek Sandstone. This leaves these relatively harder boulders for me to enjoy. They are 66 million years old and that lichen can be 100 years or more old. Only rocks that are undisturbed have big lichen patches. Cattle pressure/wear from rubbing will destroy it.

There are big areas of this boulder strewn surface covered with Sunburst Liichen (Xanthoria sp.), sometimes called pincushion lichen. Bear in mind that there are hundreds of different species of Lichen that inhabit Wyoming and differentiating them exactly is sort of a science all by itself. Lichenologists have to have work of some kind. Achidemia is the obvious job path. I suspect that there is a use for court testimony however the job prospects of a Lichenologist is about the same as a masters in biostratigraphy such as myself. Though interestingly, biostratigraphers do a lot of work with oil companies .. My general comment about Lichen nomenclature is that you need a bachelors of science in Biology (which I have) to look at the photos. The text about the lichen is a foreign language.😀😀.

I digress,

Enjoying a sunset while walking around with several cameras in the remote backcountry is similar to a shooting gallery with a .22 but without the report. Lots of good stuff to shoot at. Just a click versus bang. BTW, I do carry a firearm in the backcountry. add a few more pounds. You never know exactly what your going to run into. A 10mm 1911 pistol with a 5 inch barrel is good for 300 yards… (work on that one for a while). This was taken this fall and it was pretty chilly.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Sunset over the Boulders

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Killdeer Nest on Soft Rocks

Killdeer Nest on Soft Rocks
Killdeer Nest on Soft Rocks

Killdeer Nest on Soft Rocks

Killdeer eggs are a very hard thing to find. If you think you know “about” where a nest is, you’ll have trouble finding it. I am very detail oriented seeing patterns and shapes far better than most do. I’m a fossil hunter of decades of training finding things others walk by. This is such a good camo job that if you look away just for a bit, it will take you a while to “re-find” the eggs. In years of keeping my eyes open, I’ve found more T-rex dinosaur teeth than I’ve seen killdeer nests lol.

This species has an unusual way of egg laying. They actually prefer gravel as a base. They lay all the eggs as they come but don’t sit on them until ALL have been laid. The embryos in the first eggs will not start to develop until the parents start to sit on the eggs. The warmth of the body starts off all the eggs at the same time that way. All 4 embryo’s will develop at the same time as a result. It only takes 24-28 days for the incubation of the chicks. The Killdeer egg is twice the size of a robins egg. There needs to be enough yoke/nutrition to feed the embryo a long time.

Technically the Killdeer is a shorebird of which I have many water’s edge photos of adults. But they are unusual in that they many times will next far from shore. The chicks hatching from these eggs are born with their boots on. The babies are out of the nest as soon as their partially developed feathers dry. Soon they are out of the next running around. They are very precocious unlike many birds that are helpless out of the egg. These babies will run around from the start. But birds born ready to go spend twice as long in the eggs. They don’t however, just lie in the nest to be “waited on. The babies are already out sampling food and hiding in the grass or even flattening themselves against the rock using their own camo.

Location: Bliss DInoaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montanaf borderlands

Title: Killdeer Nest on Soft Rocks

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Perspective C Shaped Tree

Perspective C Shaped Tree
Perspective C Shaped Tree

I took this Perspective C Shaped Tree last summer. The tree is certainly an odd ball, suffered an injury early on but survived. Perspective here makes it look Huge but I’m standing about 10 feet from the tree. It was and I emphasize was a large branch. Looooong shadows here…. 👀📷

This image taken last summer. Somehow this branch “blew up” and is in a dozen pieces. I drove by this remote spot about 3.5 miles away from my house in the backcountry. . So this well be the last image of this interesting tree. We had a few high winds (high 70’s at least) this year. One of those blows probably torqued this non-typical tree to bits.

This is about 1/4 mile from some wonderful dinosaur micro-site digs that have given me quite a few Cretaceous age Dinosaurian fossils. Lots of teeth in this ground. It’s just a matter of finding them. All the vegetation is growing on Cretaceous River Sands.

Across that treed gully was a 1930 homestead that a family lived WAY back here off the county road. The father died in the 30’s of an acute appendix attack during the winter. No way to get him out in time. There are many remnants of their life around. Frames of model T trucks, old stoves, metal bedsprings, a host of metallic grace the landscape. The remains of that residence are scattered by time but the easiest search is down the sides of the closest gully to the old homesteads. There was always a place homesteaders threw non- combustable/non-reparable over the bank.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective C Shaped Tree

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Pronghorn Punk Hair Doo

Pronghorn Punk Hair Doo
Pronghorn Punk Hair Doo

Pronghorn Punk Hair Doo

This is the latest Pronghorn Punk look here at the Bliss DInosaur Ranch. THe adults try to talk to the kids. Then some older guy with a punk doo like this walks by and ruins it for the adults. The kids all want to look like this guy. Particularly in bad weather it seems. Add some freezing rain and voila, intant Pronghorn Punk.

I’m working hard on getting a collection of “looking over the shoulder” images from Pronghorn and Deer. It isn’t an easy perspective for me to get and I’m tickled when they come out this well. From the perspective of a doe standing right next to him from this capture. Placement of these game trail cameras is EVERYTHING. About 1 degree lower angle, it would have cut off the horn. I use what ever is at hand to adjust the angles on the cameras. Typically they attach to a post with a strap. Uses a stick or rock to keep it pointing where you want it to. In reality, the pointing is the only control you have over the game trail camera. Everything else is set/built by the programmers.

I’ve said numerous times that Game trail camera images are problematic to me. This one is 2feet by 3 feet at full resolution. So they do take some pretty high quality images. They all to a one however, need a LOT of fine detailed work to fix the problems built into the images by the cameras.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Pronghorn Punk Hair Doo

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Pronghorn Families Morning Drink

Pronghorn Families Morning Drink
Pronghorn Family's Morning Drink

Pronghorn Families Morning Drink was a routine for this family unit this summer. I’d see them right around the same time every morning on the game trail cameras surrounding that stock tank. Game trail cameras can take very good photos If the conditions are right with proper placement. Placement is about the only thing you can really control. I will never move this camera as it has taken dozens of WONDERFUL images of the grassland wildlings drinking. I’m waiting for an eagle to alight here. It will happen sooner or later.

This was from about a month ago now. There are no Pronghornon my ranch at the moment to my knowledge. They have all moved south to the Thunderbasin National Grasslands 30 miles down the road. Pronghorn gather there from all around making up herds of hundreds that wander the huge expanse of pretty much open grasslands. Just a few oil wells and stock tanks dot the landscape. There is no vehicular traffic off the main roads allowed there. It is one of America’s Serengeti plains. You drive through there and encounter Pronghorn roadblocks of many hundreds of these animals crossing the county gravel road.

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.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Pronghorn Families Morning Drink

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Fossil Bison or PseudoFossil

Fossil Bison or PseudoFossil
Fossil Bison or PseudoFossil

Fossil Bison or PseudoFossil?

Boy this sure looks like a fossil horn on a Bison head laying on it’s side.. It’s big and heavy. Those lichens are really old. Hummm I’m SURE that a cowboy or two has roped this over the decades lolol.

Rocks take on many (infinite) shapes due to differential weathering. Soft sediments like wet sand can flow as toothpaste from a tube into surrounding formations. When you put a 10 foot thick layer of heavy mud on top of a few feet of wet sand. This sand is the kind that would squish between your toes. You will get some mixing of the sand into the mud . It’s called “Soft sediment Deformation”. All sorts of exotic Shapes are formed. I’ve seen so many posted on the internet. I’ve got several dozen good examples but this is the biggest one. Yup, must be a fossil bison……. NOT.

Rocks that look like fossils but aren’t are called “Pseudofossils”. Wyoming/Montana has it’s share of real fossils and Pseudofossils. Don’t be fooled by shape. THere has to be substance , 3-d depth to a fossil. Biologic structures are not limited to the surface. You should be able to see “depth” to structure. This “fossil bison” is lacking in any other feature than a “Horn” sticking up and a general shape. Our minds tend to see order in random shapes so we attribute the “fossil Status” on the rock.

So it is a Pseudofossil (fake fossil). I will over time post more of them as I actually collect them and take photos side by side with the real thing. Shape does not make a fossil. There is no substance to a shape in and of itself.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Fossil Bison or PseudoFossil

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Seen: An Antler Bush

Seen: An Antler Bush
Seen: An Antler Bush

Seen: An Antler Bush

At distance, I was confused knowing the ground I was on quite well. I literally saw an out of place bush in a place it didn’t belong. Caught my attention it did. I only have one good eye. The one good eye I have isn’t great so I thought I was seeing things lol. A somewhat closer trip over to the two bedded and resting 3.5 and 2.5 year old boys seemed prudent. Eventually it made perfect photographic sense … Glasses get in my way with cameras. Usually safety glasses for open ATV’s are bad enough but necessary.

These two have seen me before hundreds of times. I’ve never pressured them by getting out of my vehicles. (That they could see)…I’ve taken some shots under and around my rigs before with the deer a stone throw on the other side. They are used to my smell and noise by now lolol. I have literally been able to drive among the wild deer out on the grasslands numerous times before.

I have accumulated many many good facial images of various deer doing natural behaviors. I’ve never pushed deer unless they were inside our deer resistant electric fenced in yard around our homestead. It’s a big fence lol. We had a couple of deer walk through an open gate today . They went out the same way they came in as we quickly knew they were there. They didn’t like my running about on a 4 wheeler looking like a threat. We don’t have our gates open too much but were expecting someone. Quick as we think they smell the few dozen apples that are under the snow now fermenting rich in sugars.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Seen: An Antler Bush