I’d say these guys were traveling the neighborhood and found an oasis in this high near desert environment. I usually keep a game camera pointing at active (full) stock tanks. Some day I’m going to photograph a big raptor on this tank but not yet lolol. Mostly I get blurry animals at night but SOME (1 in maybe 100) day time image are pretty good.
Here “Sneaky Pete” the windmill is watching the commotion as he effectively photobombs this wildlife image. I have no control over his actions.
We keep four stock tanks running all year with a small by high pressure water jet into the tank. This circulates the water in a circle and tends to keep it open in the winter. I’ve not had one freeze up yet. About a gallon in 4 minutes… Pumping water for lifestock and wildlife consumption has been expensive over the decades I suspect. I haven’t crunched the numbers and really don’t want to know… With all the cattle our water pumping amounts to around 100 bucks a month worth of electricity. Fortunately that is right around what we get back from the utility company we feed with 18 big solar panels each month. More water use in the summer of course, less in the winter.
I figure without liquid water in the winter, most of the deer that winter here would move to lower (wetter) locations. The grackles are migratory so are grouping this time of year. They raid my barnyard when they get the urge as well. This tank is a busy winter tank. Lots of deer come to water here.
I count 17 Pronghorn Mixed males and females all jammed up against this fence line. They of course were waiting patiently in line for the one little hole under it. Pronghorn just don’t like jumping over the fence. I didn’t push them which would have forced them to jump in panic but that isn’t good photography practice. You won’t get this close next time if you do stupid things like pressuring wild animals. It’s also illegal…
The two males here (black cheek patch) have already lost their horns after the rut as is typical. I always have someone tell me that Pronghorn don’t loose their horns yearly. They shed an outer sheath without a question and regrow it in each year. They actually DO shed their horns. Do the google search if you have a doubt. 😜
Pronghorn are NOT Antelopes either. They are more closely related to giraffes than they are Antelope. They evolved during the last million years or so to be the fasted land animal in North America. The Megafauna extinction after the last ice age killed off many of the big cats that inhabited these grasslands prior to 12 thousand years ago. That extinction left us with just the mountain lion and wolves to predate these speedsters. I see these animals reach 50 mph virtually every day during the summer. but they are a bit south of my place in the winter. Down in the Thunderbasin National Grasslands.
Location: near the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderline (Wyotana)
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.
Splish Splash Takin’ a Bath is another one of those “candid” Game Trail Camera captures. I get SOOOO many interesting behaviors with them….
Satire: This of course is the winner of the Bliss Ranch All Ungulate High Diving Competition. She will move on with that win to the rest of the scheduled Triathlon this fall. The Pronghorn Team finished second and the White Tails were YET again a no show at the dive site. They will probably show up tomorrow . 😜😜😂
Back to my “normal programming:
I have never imagined that I would see a deer splashing through one of my stock tanks. According to the camera, it was 38 degrees outside at this “bath”. We keep 4 or 5 stock tanks open all year obviously just for this purpose lolol. . I’ve placed game trail cameras around most water holes for a long time. I’ve never ever seen a wildling go into a stock tank before. . The only thing I can figure out it was an escape attempt from an buck possibly off camera.
I looks to me that it was more or less in a hurry to get out. The water however is probably warmer than the air since the input is 55 degrees pretty much year round. The top often freezes but that actually keeps the rest of the tank from being solid. A high pressure jet you see on the right works very well most of the winter. The heavy rubber in the recycled 10 foot diameter tire tank is fairly insulative against the cold.
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.
Keeping Water Tanks Open is a constant battle in sub-zero weather (like here at -2F). Perspectives are fun aren’t they 📸.
We keep 4 or 5 big tanks open over around 4 square miles of ranch land open for business by a small but high pressure jet of water shooing across the surface to disrupt it. This works really well until you start getting sub 20 below and really windy which blows splatter about. I get some interesting ice sculptures that way.😝
I find both Mule and Whitetail deer that are used to drinking at a particular spot relying on that spot all summer, will not stay around without a water source. Lots of food up here but not so much running water in the winter. So everyone that needs it will stop by here and fall into the range of 3 or more game trail cameras lolol. I do get some good images near water tanks with out a doubt. Hope this gives you some ideas…
The hard part is getting the Flow just right lol. Too much and you splatter plus waste water. Too little and you get frozen over regardless. Like most things in life, you have to “tweek” and use your best “WAG” to set the flow rate. You just have to check and bring a good sized ball peen hammer to break away ice sculptures in the really windy cold weather. We get a lot of -20 wind chills most winters. I suspect this winter will be a rough one by all signs to date.
Perfectly colored for the grass this time of year, this Coyote Breakfast: Morning Sip of Water …. That along with a pee over in the corner is what a Coyote’s breakfast usually consists of lolol.
These guys are mostly mouse hunters. Unfortunately, they do kill livestock babies, (calves lambs other wise known as a bad thing). They keep a Llama breeding industry thriving to keep them away and they keep a LOT of Coyote Hunters occupied (which is also a good thing). Generally ranchers try to eradicate them if they are hanging about. Ranch cats are always under threat of coyote’s.
Value of a Good Electric Fence:
This guy is a mile from my homestead which is surrounded by a very effective electric fence system primarily to keep deer out. It usually keeps everything else out too. There aren’t a lot of gaps in that electric fence larger than about 1/2 a foot lolol. It took me a year to get it right and about 3 months of solid work but I have a little 10 acre island of mostly wild critter free zone.
Living in the backcountry of Wyoming/Montana, we deal with it’s other night creatures besides coyotes too. Skunks, raccoons and porcupines run about and do occasionally get inside my electric fence. As a system to keep out most things, it’s very effective but the very small do get in but they do learn to keep their tails down and not up where it hits that fence lololol. All my cat’s know that game with the low electric fence wire. Keep that tail down or get knocked down lol. The dogs however don’t react well to porcupines and skunks. Fortunately we’ve been pretty lucky only pulling a few quills out of noses. There has also been a few baths in peroxide and tomato juice and I have my share of skunk stories from living up here.
Fortunately we’ve never had a coyote penetrate our fenceline. I’ve seen them right outside the perimeter before. I didn’t see it but a lion was spotted outside the wire. A few bobcats…. I know many other things hang out but we haven’t noted them. I have plaster casts of Wolf footprints (positively ID’s by a wildlife biologist) from about a 1000 yards from my fenceline at my com tower. I’ve seen bear scat out at my dinosaur dig site and there have been other bear reports locally. You never know what your keeping out with a good electric fence.
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.
After a long trek, it finally made it to the Stock Tank to take a fawns morning drink after a walk across a divide from an adjacent pasture at least a mile away. These stock tanks (4 of which I keep open over about 3 miles of water pipeline from my main well all winter flowing water for who ever drops by) is critical for the local deer population. Most of the Pronghorn Migrate south about 20-40 miles but the deer stay around and probably couldn’t if I didn’t keep this resource available. Been keeping water sources open for 20 years in the backcountry.
Framing a Game Trail Camera image is like adjusting your underwear. You think you know know how you want to do it. Butt you definitely know it when it’s right and then only after you take a few steps (photosI mean 😄. Most of the cameras preview/show you a photo of what the camera is seeing but it is when the camera is “Open”. Not much help… So you set it up pointing it basically blind just generally pointing it in the right direction. Then there is the assistance I get by animals nudging the cameras,. They help by licking them, trying to chew on the nylon straps that hold them to trees etc. The animals are always trying to help me by cleaning the cameras with their tongue…. ewwwwww. I see some goooey things stuck to lenses now and then lolol.
This was early foggy twilight plus the Infrared Flash from the Camera. I left the white eye in for a change. Perhaps it should be all black ?. This was obviously from the early summer as the Fawns have all lost their spots a few months ago. I have a folder of over 1000 photos from this summer yet to be looked at let alone finished lolol. Job security 😀
“Here’s Looking at you Kid” is a Game Trail Camera Capture. I use pretty good cameras (30 meg images) but I have to put a lot of work into each and every image I finish from them. They have their issues but are always candid in their acquisitions.
I’m currently running a network of 26 game trail cameras which takes several trips to swap out cards around the ranch. I usually mix business with pleasure and gather camera SD cards (modern film) when I’m in an area. Some of my cameras may spend the whole winter without me visiting as I can’t always get to them in the snow. They will be there in the spring just the same
This gal is taking advantage of one of the 4 stock tanks I keep open all year. Just enough water ground water flowing to keep it open and not suck our water pressure down to nothing because an open faucet 3 miles of pipline and downhill from the well will pretty much ruin a good shower lolol. 18inch square aspect image.
This is another image from that Mantis that I saved from a for sure drowning. I randomly walked past a stock water tank and saw this guy floundering stuck in a carpet of floating algae strings. It took a few minutes to detangle him preferably without ripping his limbs off. he spent the next 10 minutes inside my palm warming up and once released into the jungle like humidity and temp of our underground greenhouse (Walipihni), he started chewing off the algae still wrapping his claws.
This was taken a week after that when he was happily crawling along the tops of some of the orchids I grow down in the Walipini looking for Lady bugs no doubt lol. The lady bugs hunt everything else…