Quite the Climb

I climbed that mountain!
I climbed that mountain!

Yesterday was kind of a wild day in the park.  It is either feast or famine out there right now and not much in between.

The first thing I encountered was such a wonderful delight – a fox hunting in the sunlight.  Several photographers were lined up watching the fox when I arrived, which was right when the moment I had been waiting for occurred.  But, you will have to read about that in my next post.

Foxy Daddy
Foxy Daddy

When I saw Rick he was all smiles and told me that there looked to be some mating behavior between 890 and 970 – just as a reminder, 890 was the alpha male of the Junction Buttes and he mated with 870 last year – they had 5 pups, two believed dead from rival wolves and one last seen wandering alone.  Rick said that he thinks 890 will win out in the end, over 911 who has been wining and dining 970 for the past year – only to not get the prize.  I wouldn’t characterize 911 as a favorite, although he has made progress in that direction with some – he is just such an interrupter, which is what he did last year between 755 and 970, then know as the JB black female.

Rick was on his way to see the Prospect 6 that were on a carcass near Junction Lake.  I had been able to see them, though a very long ways off.  Unfortunately they disappeared by the time others got there.

After the fox I went on to Lamar to see what good ole 890 (he sure has become a favorite, through all that has gone on) and 970 were up to.  Again, a long ways off at skyline on Specimen Ridge but you could see 890 and 970 together while the others were laid out below them.  The whole family was present.  Someone told me that 911 did not seem to mind 890 messing with his gal and sort of seemed to just be getting in on the fun.

I watched for awhile but the distance and the sun were painful and so moved on, heading home, until I heard that 890 and 970 were in a tie!  I missed it again this year.  I did drive back and saw that they were much closer to the road than before but the tie was over.  The deed was done!  We still don’t know what the outcome will be as far as the alphas but time will tell.  The other two females should also be coming into heat and so we shall see what happens there.  The Prospects were scent trailing the JB’s this morning, no doubt after those yearlings and more trouble.

Wolf World is a little harsh right now – the reality is.

I then headed towards Gardiner and decided to hike out to see Sam’s ram.  Well, a couple of days before would have been much better, when the ram was on the low hill, because now he was up high on a steep hill.  And, I was carrying my big lens and tripod on my back.

Well, I trudged that hill, a little at a time, but ultimately decided that at 25 yards for the legal distance, I really only needed my short lens.  The big horns are not animals that get disturbed by being photographed very often – they often seem amused by the company and alternately pose or hide.  Depending on their mood.

And, so, about more than 3/4 of the way up the hill, I ditched the big lens and tripod, weighing them down with a rock and placing them where I could look over the edge to make sure no bad rams were playing with my equipment.  And, went on up.

Another guy was there, photographing the ram, right into the sun.  The sun being so bad I could not even tell what the ram looked like.  Sam had left when the other guy arrived.

Big Ram - into the sun
Big Ram – into the sun

Since the other photographer was shooting this guy right into the sun and there wasn’t a shot from any other direction, I clicked him once, just for the memories.  When I edited the shot I was surprised by the look on the ram’s face.  It was truly a blind shot.  For the memories.

Just as I had arrived, three more rams came up behind the other guy and were nice enough to face towards the sun, which was at my back, and so I got a little posing out of them.

Two rams above the Yellowstone River
Two rams above the Yellowstone River


The slope was steep enough that it was pretty difficult to get the rams in the bottom of the frame and get the entire scene.  And, yes, I know that both shots are similar – but they are slightly different.

The standing ram went on and left me alone with the bigger one that was lying down.  He was quite the ham and we entertained each other for a while.



I didn’t do many closeups because the scenery was so nice but it was also quite challenging.  He was actually quite pretty – not as noble as the big guy but I enjoyed my time with him.


Again, similar shots but slightly different – eyes open wider, different section of the background.

Big Horn Ram
Big Horn Ram

After photographing this guy for awhile, I did try for the big guy but just couldn’t get him quite right.  The other photographer was making noises to get the rams to look up and so I decided to just get out of there rather than say anything.

And, so I hiked back down to my camera, sat on a rock and ate a very late lunch as the sun was going down and then put the pack back on and headed downhill.  I don’t do well going down hill and my bad ankle often gets too tired and starts turning but it wasn’t too bad this time.  I can tell you, though, that the weight on my back and the straps at my neck had me in pain.  If I hadn’t carried the stuff up that hill it would have been okay, but I was hurting.

At the same time I was smiling big from the accomplishment.  Hopefully, one step at a time I will get into better shape and spend more time off of the road because photographing the rams was fun.

Until tomorrow.



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2 thoughts on “Quite the Climb

  1. Beautiful shots of the big horns Deby. Just the scenery would have been great, but the combination is fantastic!

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