Wildlife in the Back Country

Bison along Slough Creek
Bison along Slough Creek

During this hike out Slough Creek I had thoughts, ideas and dreams of a second head dunking on the way back to the car.  There had been no bison, anywhere, when I hiked out but it seemed as though they all decided to converge on the creek at one time.  It was interesting to see just how much rut activity was going on in the different herds along the creek as many of the older, larger bulls have called it quits for the season and gone off to rest and fatten up for next fall.

The bison showed up, right behind me
The bison showed up, right behind me

And, so I had no choice but to head for the hills above the creek, where I soon discovered that it would be necessary to duck and dodge them there as well.

Bison cow and calf taking a drink
Bison cow and calf taking a drink

It was from this vantage point that I discovered the pronghorn and decided to try and make my way around them.  But, the buck was chasing hard and one of the females got the idea to come to me for safety.  Not an idea I much cared for.  Not sure if it could happen or not but I would hate to test any male animal when in rut – and make them feel as though I was challenging them or trying to take their girls.  From what I have seen, guys get a little nuts during this time of the year.

pronghornfawnslough002

So, as the girls kept trying to make their way towards me, and I kept backing away.  They are persistent girls that really are tired of being chased by the guy.  I began to notice that despite the afternoon time of day when the light is not all that great, the landscape of the animals on the hill, above Slough Creek and the bison, was quite dramatic.  Not often we really get to see the animals in their natural habitats because too often photographers are intent of the close up, whisker counting shots.

Pronghorn in the Slough Creek Landscape
Pronghorn in the Slough Creek Landscape

But, lately, I have been carrying a shorter lens and getting off of the road more often.  With a short lens one has not choice but to capture the landscape, unless they want to get in the animal’s face, which I do not.

Pronghorn doe
Pronghorn doe

There definitely is an art to wildlife landscape photography and while I like many of the clicks I have taken, there is always room for improvement.  In the above photo I love that Slough Creek, with a tiny bit of blue water, that old dead tree that often has eagles sitting in it and a few bison are in the background.   Not to mention the splash of color along the creek, adding interest to an otherwise drab Fall landscape.

The Girls
The Girls

Now, wildlife landscape photography is doubly challenged by the animals not posing correctly.  If only that front gal had stood still and maybe looked in the other direction.  The shots are never absolutely perfect, that is why I keep trying.

Pronghorn Fawn trying to figure out if mom is nuts or I really am safe
Pronghorn Fawn trying to figure out if mom is nuts or I really am safe

This fawn was really checking me out.  It is also difficult to capture the special postures or looks of the animals and get them to stand out in the vast landscape such as this.  But, take a look at that fawn – the look is priceless.

The buck pushing the girls along
The buck pushing the girls along

And then to capture the action, such as the buck coming along and herding the gals and kids.  To capture the entire screen, without any bodies cut off, and then the gorgeous landscape out before them.  A little more room in front of that front gal’s nose would have made this one more successful.

Go away little one
Go away little one

This fawn kept trying to come closer to check me out.  I zoomed in to get a closer shot, instead of the landscape.

Pronghorn buck watching the girls
Pronghorn buck watching the girls

The real winner in this whole scene was the buck when he would stand on the edge of the hill with Slough Creek and the bison below.

Taking a rest
Taking a rest

But then he decided to take a little rest, giving me ample time to play with him in the landscape, zooming in for tighter views and out for this wide view of the whole scene.  Here are a series of images.

pronghornbuckslough002 pronghornbuckslough007 pronghornbuckslough001

Another pronghorn encounter
Another pronghorn encounter

Some captured the light in his eye and others caught the dust storm made by the bison.  I liked them all.

Against the mountains
Against the mountains

Unfortunately, the light in this final image was not perfect, even though the landscape was.

It took me a while to make my way around the pronghorn.  The gals finally laid down to rest, being given a reprieve from the buck, and I was able to get by without disturbing them.  I went on and looked back to see the buck watching me.  He was showing more interest than when I was nearby and I realized that the wind was blowing my scent his way.

Maybe it was my straw hat that had him confused but I heard him make his go away or you are in trouble sound.  I was probably 200 yards away at this time.  Pronghorn are funny – he sounded like a donkey, only with short, softer noises that are at a higher note.  I had never heard the sound before but knew what it meant – that and the way he was watching. And, so turned to keep going.  But, he jumped up and started coming my way.  He definitely felt challenged and I still say that those horns look sharp!  I quickly made my way down to some thick, 10′ high sagebrush but he never came looking.  Thankfully!

It was a long hike back to the car and I was exhausted when all said and done.  But, I felt like it was one of the more useful and productive outings in a long time.  I am constantly learning here in Yellowstone and so keep challenging myself a little at a time.  Because I want to get better and to know more – more about the animals and better at finding unusual shots of them.

Thanks for listening.

Deby

 

3 thoughts on “Wildlife in the Back Country

  1. You grabbed my interest the first sentence! And the photos are gorgeous! Seems it was a wonderful excursion.

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