Distant Herd and Unrelated Rant

Distant Herd of Mule Deer

The sun was shining when I went to take the trash out this morning and warm rays streaming down upon my face tilted the scales towards another hike this morning. I was thinking about just going for a bike ride this afternoon but I know myself too well… If I don’t get moving before about 7:00 I can be pretty sure I’m not going to get going! I’m a morning person, always have been…

Well a few steps down the trail almost had me wishing I had stayed home! It wasn’t nearly as warm on the mountain as it was in my sheltered back yard and the wind was Distant Herd of Mule Deerjust whipping! Fortunately my jacket has a hood or I might have gotten frost bite on my ears. On the other hand, in wind like that I’m pretty sure any ideas of a bike ride would have been abandoned for sure.

Thought it was going to be a photography shut out until just as I was making the final turn to go back to the parking lot. As I scanned the terrain I spotted the mule deer herd in the distance, contentedly grazing on mountain grass. There was no way I was  going to get close to them though, you can see from the pictures that they were well aware of my presence at least 100 yards away!

Now I want to talk about something else that absolutely infuriated me yesterday. Late last light an article by the local online news site Out There Colorado alerted me to a policy enacted by Colorado Fish and Wildlife (CFW) mandating that starting in July a hunting or fishing license will be required to visit wildlife areas. Reasoning provided by CFW states “By policy, state wildlife areas are acquired with hunter and angler dollars, and are intended specifically to provide wildlife habitat and wildlife-related recreation,” said Southeast Regional Manager Brett Ackerman. “This rule is aimed at curtailing non-wildlife-related use of these properties.”.

The policy alone infuriates me enough, but the comments following the piece were even more maddening, the bulk of which lauded the new policy because basically “hunters fund these areas” and hikers and climbers, photographers and tourists have no right to be there. First of all, how is a nature hike or wildlife photography or birding considered non-wildlife use of the land?

Secondly I am sick and tired of the BS spewed by hunters that they are the only ones who have a right to the land because they are the ones who pay for it. A quick check on the Colorado funding page indicates that only 34% of the state budget comes from passes, fees and permits, a figure which does not indicate how much of that 34% is comprised of hunting and fishing licenses versus entry fees, daily and weekly visitation permits, and commercial license fees paid by professional photography and film companies for special use. A full 34%, equaling the entire portion paid for by fees is funded by the Colorado state lottery and Great Outdoors Colorado. The Federal Government kicks in another 10% of the budget of which of course is funded by the U.S. taxpayer and the remaining 22% is funded by additional non-hunting resources.

If you consider only “wildlife management”, which is not defined by the Colorado funding site, 68% is funded by license fees and permits, which again is not itemized so that we can learn how much exactly hunters are actually paying. Incidentally, the Colorado Department of Education devotes half of it’s site to education about birding, hiking, climbing, camping, and wildlife watching without disturbing the animals. I  guess that half of the site will have to be eliminated in favor of only hunting and fishing if this decision is allowed to stand.

The entire premise that hunters pay for public wild lands stems from the North American Model mostly inspired by Teddy Roosevelt over 100 years ago, to protect wildlife and wildlife habitat from over hunting and development. One hundred years ago hiking, mountain climbing, mountain biking, birding, camping and photography were not really a thing and were of course not given any consideration at the time. This article in the Mountain Lion Foundation  gives an indication of how much things have changed in over a century, stating that “94% of total funding for wildlife conservation and management come from the non-hunting public”. Another thoughtful article provided by WyoFile provides a similar figure, indicating that 95% of the funding for wildlife related agencies comes from the non-hunting public. This article from NPR cites a study by U.S. Fish and Wildlife that reveals only 5% of Americans 16 and older actually hunt. Other studies, especially in areas like Yellowstone in Wyoming and Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, show just how much revenue the states and municipalities benefit from wildlife tourism, a figure that far exceeds the paltry sums collected by the states from hunters.

The idea that a miniscule 5% of the American populace should control the nation’s wildlife is a concept that has gone the way of the 19th century. It is well past time that the vast majority of nature loving Americans be given a voice in how our wildlife is preserved. Hopefully this egregious ruling will be quickly overturned in court and millions of Coloradoans and out of state visitors will be able to continue enjoying their land in their own way. If we continue to be denied a voice in decisions about our precious wildlife I urge you to make your voice heard at the ballot box. If our wildlife officials won’t listen, we need to vote in officials who will listen.

Wild Morning

Pair of cute mule deer

One of those mornings… I was up and ready to go by 6:00. After a couple of cups of coffee and some breakfast I tried to go back to sleep in my easy chair, my eyes certainly felt tired enough but it was not meant to be. I glanced out the window and I could see it was already getting light and that was it. Grabbed my camera bag and was off to the trailhead.

It was a cold foggy morning with ice freezing on the foliage and the sky spitting snow as I made my way up the steep mountainside to the summit. My mind wandered in the solitude of the cold and dense fog and I found myself thinking how cool it would be to see the deer or elk herd in this fog! Well as luck would have it I glanced back and there they were, my favorite little herd of deer grazing on the mountainside behind me as I was descending from the summit. And now after visiting them a few times over the last couple of weeks they just looked at me with some curiosity and went on with their eating. As they moved around I watched for them to from little groups so I could  get some nice portraits.

Herd of Mule Deer

Soon I was back to the trailhead and getting ready for the trip home when it came to me to go check the mines at Goldfield. Sometimes they can look quite mystical in a dense fog. It wasn’t quite as dramatic as I had hoped but I still got some nice pictures.

As always, these pictures and more are available on my website as wall art on glossy metal  or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool gift items are also available including t-shirts, coffee mugs, blankets and pillows and much much more! Also be sure to visit and subscribe to my YouTube Channel!

Foggy Mines

Celebrating the Supermoon

 

May 7, 2020 supermoon over Colorado

Decided at the last minute to try my hand at photographing the supermoon tonight.  The first order of business of course was to get the camera and tripod all set up with all the proper night sky settings. I decided on F8 for an aperture, 1/30th of a second for a shutter speed and ISO 100 to limit long exposure noise. I also wanted to try out live view which actually makes selecting the shutter speed pretty simple. You just dial it in until it looks right 🙂

Then the problem of where and when… so I went outside and made sure I had an

May 7th supermoon over Colorado

unobstructed view of the eastern mountainside. But exactly where and when? A quick search of the internet showed that the information I was going to need could be found on timeanddate.com, including general moonrise time, current azimuth and elevation angle which really came in handy since I have a mountain between me and the horizon. I estimated the mountaintop to be about 10 or 15 degrees which helped me to figure out when I was actually going to see it. Unfortunately there was a cloud over that part of the mountain so I couldn’t get the mountain in the shot and I had to wait even longer for the moonrise!

At first I used manual focus along with the enlarge button for the LCD screen. Blowing up the moon on the screen really helped to get the right focus. I also tried out the touch screen focus method which I actually liked better. Touching the screen tells the camera where you would like to focus and also triggers the shutter. I had a two second timer set so that any camera shake set off by the touch would have time to settle down.

Well anyway, I got a couple of shots I am semi happy with… I don’t have the greatest equipment for astrophotography but it’s not really my thing anyway. I just do it for fun once in a while 🙂

Curious Herd

Cute Mule Deer Herd

The minute my eyes popped open this morning I knew that it was going to be a good day to go hiking. Cool crisp mountain air, clear skies and lots of sleep 🙂 It was barely light by the time I cleared the ridge but I could see the tell tale movement of their perpetually alert ears, my furry friends were on the mountain 🙂 They were a bit spread out and were on their way to greener pastures I suppose but fortunately I was able to snap off a few shots before they meandered deeper into the woods.

Today was going to be a test of my new custom functions setup so I was really happy to have seen the furtive critters. I have C1 set to aperture f8, auto ISO, +1 exposure compensation to limit noise causing low light… and a couple other things that slip my mind at the moment.  A quick check of the playback

Cute Mule Deer Herd

indicated that the camera had selected ISO 3200 but there was only enough light for a shutter speed of 360 so I was a bit concerned about camera shake at the 400mm of focal length I was using to bring the beasties in close. The images looked pretty good on the playback screen though so I completed my hike in high spirits eager to get back to the computer and view them on the big monitor!

Well anyway, I think they do look pretty good for ISO 3200! One image I felt was good enough to put on my website so that one is now available for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting.  Tons of cool gift items and handy household goods are also available including Covid masks, coffee mugs, stationary, beach towels, blankets and pillows and much much more! I didn’t catch this on video, but be sure to visit the bighorn sheep and elk from past hikes on my YouTube Channel! Don’t forget to subscribe if you like!

Cute Mule Deer Herd

 

Getting Easier

Climbing the big hill to the top of the ridge seems to be getting easier every day now. In fact its getting to the point where I’m actually looking forward to it again 🙂 I have to admit for a while there it was a major undertaking to get out of my chair to get dressed in the morning! Sitting in my chair again this morning… my mind turned to the woods and I began to imagine the wildlife I might be missing out on, and that’s all it took.

Bunny Rabbit

Soon I was dressed and on my way to the trailhead with high hopes of catching a glimpse of my deer friends. Of course there is always the hope of seeing a black bear, but I’ve not seen a bear in the area in the three years I’ve been frequenting this trail. haven’t seen the elk in a while either and unfortunately all I did see was a glimpse of the Three Amigos, my three favorite buck mule deer that always travel together. They were moving fast down the mountainside ahead of me on their way to the watering hole I assume, and I had no chance of photographing them moving through the forest.

I took note of where I saw them cross the trail hoping that maybe they didn’t run too far past that point, but they were nowhere to be found when I finally arrived at that location. Much to my surprise though was the presence of this little cottontail casting a sideways look at me while I was scanning the hillsides for deer and bear. He was backlit and not in position for a detailed photo but I thought I’d give it a try, cute animals of all sizes are not a thing to pass up!