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Spring Landscape Mud Hills

Spring Landscape Mud Hills
Spring Landscape Mud Hills

Spring Landscape Mud Hills

My new F150 Raptor has 1200 miles on it. I spent 300 miles of that back and forth traveling to Gillette from my homestead on the Wyoming / Montana border 2 times. Most of the rest of that mileage occurred on two track roads into this backcountry. Each time I leave my main gate to do photography, I usually cover 10 to 20 miles of driving down roads as you see leading off to the distance. Locally called “Two Track” roads. There are probably well in excess million miles of them in the general three or 4 state area. I have experienced them on several thousand square miles of backcountry in this region over the last 2 decades. There are many left for me to travel even within a few miles from my place I’m aware of two tracks I’ve never taken. This is VERY big country.

Two tracks are unpaved, often unimproved, eroded both across/ parallel to the road. They are certainly unpredictable and an adventure if you’ve never been there before. New angles are a good thing I find.

You are looking across the MT/WY border at the moment. All the trees in this image are in Wyoming where I’m standing. (about 400 yards east of my homestead). The “Mud Hills” in the distance are 10 miles out into Montana. I call this area Wyotana. 10 miles north and 10 miles south, separated by the ridge Bliss Dinosaur Ranch occupies. So I get views in all directions from this high point. A land of many uses for the landscape photographer 😜📷

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

Title: Spring Landscape Mud Hills

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Two Track to the Red Hills

Two Track to the Red Hills
Two Track to the Red Hills

Two Track to the Red Hills (Late fall 2019) Rain shafts right sky 📸 The horizons shadow just left lighting up all the landscape behind me. So I turned and CLICK.

Wide landscapes of a sunrise backshow are one of my pursuits as really pretty ones are not that easy to run into randomly. . It’s hard to argue with hundreds of square miles of mostly un-molested ground. When ever I travel back east (to say Illinois) , I have trouble finding 50 square feet of ground that hasn’t been effected by man’s machinations. Cleared ground is the rule there not the rare exception. In this country, it’s a post here, a fence there with some trails disturbing the landscape. Closest ranch house (help) to this scene is about 2 miles.

The population density of our 128 square mile zip code is 124 voters last I heard. That’s one voter per square mile on average lololol. I am standing in Wyoming but the Mountains on the right are in Montana. Thus borderlands lol….

Not many have ever seen this view but myself, a few other ranchers maybe, and you. Ranchers don’t do a lot of sight seeing up in this country. If they do, it is a by product of course of looking for loner steers and cows out on the range. These are BIG pastures up here. Several square miles of pasture ground is not unusual to have a fence around.

Musings on Deep Backcountry Travel

Some times I drive for a few hours from place to place, roost to higher roost. Five miles travel as the bird flies can be 10 miles by land. There are no asphalt roads up in this high country above the drainage anywhere. Pretty well maintained gravel is our country road system, State roads are concrete and asphalt. The closest asphalt to this location is about 15 miles. Its’ a long way via two track roads to make it there lol. The country roads are a much faster way to travel. There are 10’s of thousands of two track roads in backcountry Wyoming. Matched only by the number of miles of roads UNDERGROUND in all the deep Trona mines here in Wyoming. (google that).

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

Title: Two Track to the Red Hills

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Untracked Mid-Morning Snow Diamonds

Untracked Mid-Morning Snow Diamonds
Untracked Mid-Morning Snow Diamonds

Untracked Mid-Morning Snow Diamonds

I occasionally go on long morning drives after a fresh snow to see what I can see. I will drive a big loop maybe 30-40 miles working what ever I come across that interests me. Mostly untapped by photographers the back roads of Wyoming are. . There are a few of us up here but not many doing this full time.

So I had drive a big round trip circuit and was just about back. Now this is a “major” local artery. It’s a Gravel Road but it’s usually a fairly busy road. Here it is on a Sunday morning at 9AM with no tracks but my own. I was surprised by it. The road I live on is often untracked most weekends unless I drive over it. You don’t want to break down out here. No cell phone service and no body coming by since the night before say 18 hours at least. There are some very remote parts of Wyotana I cruise about where I would expect that but not so much here.

Snow Diamonds (Diamond Dust)

All Blue Sky morning it was Diamond Dusting. Can it really snow on a cloudless, sunny day? It can if it’s diamond dust. It was pretty light so ore like Mother Nature’s tinsel than snow, this weather bonus is caused by millions of tiny ice crystals that form near the ground. As they float slowly in the air (much like household dust) they reflect the sunlight, which makes them sparkle like diamonds! A very similar phenomena is responsible for sun pillars both below and above the sun. Here those ice crystal plates fell all the way to the ground.

You see them on the road as bright sparkles.

Location :Trail Creek Road , 9 miles east from Rt’s 59, . Northeastern Wyoming, Campbell Country looking west up into Montana.

Title: Untracked Mid-Morning Snow Diamonds

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Alfalfa Bloom Game Trail

Alfalfa Bloom Game Trail
Alfalfa Bloom Game Trail

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.

Geologic Musings:

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)

Title: Alfalfa Bloom Game Trail

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Prancing Pronghorn Catching Air

Prancing Pronghorn Catching Air
Prancing Pronghorn Catching Air

Prancing Pronghorn Catching Air is a pretty rare capture from one of my better placed game trail cameras.

I have over 20 years of fairly serious pursuit of images, managed to get 3 or 4 captures of Pronghorn (incorrectly named Antelope since they aren’t). This female (with large horns for a doe) has got some air here clearing a foot above the 4 foot wire at this location. *(Males have a black cheek patch is how you tell for sure). I have another camera that looks at the creatures crawling under the fence here and this camera watching over the wire. I didn’t have much extra room on the top of the frame for this one lol. Just about cut off her head.

So they do jump over fences. Not very often. I’ve even seen antelope that have felt pressured go under in deference to going over if they could. This is very uncommon in this country where fences are usually fairly loose from the cattle pressure on them. I have hundreds of deer jumping fence, Pronghorn….not so much…

About the only thing you really have control of with Game trail cameras is their placement. Finding a spot that wildlife consistently uses to go through fences is the game. It’s an easy placement for a camera at a water tank or other game funnel. I was hoping for more flocks of birds from this camera but a Prancing Pronghorn Catching air will do lolol. This is a few hundred yards from The Montana/Wyoming border.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Pronghorn Buck Under Barbed Wire

Pronghorn Buck Under Barbed Wire
Pronghorn Buck Under Barbed Wire

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

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Tasty First Morning Drink

Tasty First Morning Drink
Deer Evaluating their Makeup

Two Deer Doe at a “Tasty First Morning Drink”.

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.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Tasty First Morning Drink

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Driving into the Western Sunset

Driving into the Sunset: Backroads of Wyotana
Driving into the Sunset: Backroads of Wyotana

When your on the local “main road and yourDriving into the Western Sunset on the Backroads of Wyomint and Montana was taken on the Equinox when the sun set straight to the west at 270 degrees corrected for magnetic declination. This section of road is by coincidence also straight east and west. The horizon is 50 miles out and the sun is a minute from being covered by the rising horizon. (You know the sun is not setting but the horizon is rising about 4 inches the time it takes a rifle bullet to travel 1000 yards….. It only take around 3 minutes for the sun to be covered by the horizon once it touches the sun. This varies with the season because the tilt of the earth’s polar axis with the solar ecliptic

It’s starting to get icy more often. As I type this we’re in the middle of a snowy period. Winter is coming (contemporary reference)


Location, close to the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Driving into the Western Sunset

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Sip Through the Wire

Sip Through the Barbed Wire
Sip through the Barbed Wire

When a calf slips under a fence into an adjacent pasture, a sip through the wire is in order lolol. It might take it a few days to find it’s way back to mom but it usually does on it’s own. If mom is bursting, and calf is hungry, wire isn’t a problem and a situation usually presents itself to relieve the pressure that’s building lol.

It was a beautiful morning that day and I was driving my Jeep across country following cattle trails to a remote high point to watch the sunrise. This photo was just one of those things I randomly run into as I travel from location to location. Some of my best images have occurred that way and I actively try to be ready for such encounters by having my cameras reset from pointing at the sun to pointing at the backshow 😎📸.

I’m not sure how and where and particularly why calves go through barbed wire away from their mom. Curiousity I suppose is their motivation. I try to be an observer of nature when ever possible but I only get snippits here and there of the real story. I see the end result all the time. The process leading up to that result is what I’m not usually in the loop for lolol. My dad used to say “things are as they are, not as they seem OR as you are told). I try to examine all things backcountry with this philosophy in mind. I run into things every day that I’ve never seen before let alone have an explanation for lolol.

It around 6 pm as this posts so be safe for the rest of the evening. Fricking dark at 5:30 and the time changes next Sunday……Boy is daylight savings time messed up !

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Sip through the Wire.

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Anti-Crepuscular Rays (Pretty Rare Phenomena)

Anti-Crepuscular Rays (Pretty Rare Phenomena)
Anti-Crepuscular Rays (Pretty Rare Phenomena)

X marks the spot in this Rare Phenomena called Anti-crepuscular Rays. The bright rays converging on the spot lit landscape 40 miles distant. This is a perspective phenomena with the bright morning golden hour sun shaded over my shoulder by a big cloud but the light coming down on either side of it down to a point on the horizon.

It is a “trick” of distance and light rays from a very large sun (compared to the cloud) and if youi are far enough back, with enough ice in the air, you see these rays. The exact opposite of a crown sky on the opposite horizon. I actually have photos year back of some other occurring from moonlight of all things. I’ll eventually work my way to that image too. This however was taken a week ago as this posts.

Hands down the best example I’ve seen…thought the complimentary V of the trails coming together here at the top of the ridge would be appropriate. It reminds me of the Under Armor Logo.. lololol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Need Some Table Manners

Need Some Table Manners
Need Some Table Manners

This doe obviously needs some table manners. Drinking is a dangerous thing for deer. They take their attention away and a camera goes click and ARRRRRGH. Instant over-reaction and a great candid dripper shot lolol.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.