Deer Mountain Morning

Sunny HerdQuite a morning on the mountain today! I was initially quite disappointed to find two cars at the trailhead but the perps were still in the parking lot so I had hope that my wildlife would not be all driven away before I could get to the summit. The two women started up the trail and took the left fork which was  good for me since I go to the right directly up the mountain to where the wildlife usually await.

As I gathered my camera and monopod I heard a great ruckus ahead. Turns out the two women went charging right into the middle of the free range cattle on the trail, separating the herd and causing a lot of distress. The boss cow in front was calling frantically to the others as the women drove them directly at the fence. One young straggler was frantically calling out ahead to the others now divided by the women. I waited a bit for the little one to pass and then continued along the right fork. As I ascended the mountain I could hear the mama cow continuing to bellow for the young one. I should say, free range cattle aren’t like regular farm cattle. They aren’t as used to people and view strangers as a threat. If you approach them they will run.

Sunny HerdAs I crested the summit I spotted a doe mule deer peering over the mountain grass at me so I stopped and mounted the camera on the monopod and took a couple of shots. Another doe came into view and I slowly moved to the west for a less obstructed view with just the beautiful mountainside in the background. Soon a third joined the pair and I was able to get a few nice captures of the trio before some guy in a truck roared up the dirt road frightening them all away.

Sunny HerdI veered to the west where I knew the little herd had gone, hoping to catch them with the Sangre de Cristo range in the background. I knew I had gotten one angle with the mountains but was hoping for a much better one. It was not to be, the furtive creatures had already vanished into the dense pine forest. I continued my hike on around the mountain and back into the valley below

As I neared the end of the loop I could still the the sound of distressed cattle. When they came into view the problem was obvious, the women had herded the young cow onto the wrong side of the fence and into a V shaped area where two fences merged. The little guy was trapped. There was a way out behind him about 20 yards where one of the fences ended but the little one had forgotten how he got into this predicament. I decided to go around and get on his side of the fence in hopes of herding him back up the hill and around the other fence. I don’t know why those stupid fences are still there, Large parts of it are down and not holding the cattle in at all. As I approached the youngster I could see right away my plan was going to fail. If I  got too close the little one was going to try to jump the fence and likely injure himself.

Sunny Herd

There was a gate a few feet behind him which was locked with a paddle lock and another gate a couple more feet behind that. I’m telling you the whole system is a mess. It was all fine until they decided they had to make a developed and now mostly unmaintained park out of this place with a road where one should not be. Well fortunately the second gate was only locked with a chain so I opened it and went back to the trail where the calf was stuck, with the mama cow yelling at me the whole time. I went right up to him on the other side the fence and yelled “ha’ a couple of times and the calf backed away from me toward the gate. A couple more “ha’s” and the young fellow was on the right side of the fence. The big cow called out to him again and he was trotting down the hill to join the herd which was soon on it’s way down into the valley where they like to spend the day by the watering hole and snow. And then of course I went back to close and latch the gate.

But my day wasn’t over! As I headed down the highway on my way to town I was confronted with a big buck and his doe, standing motionless right in the middle of the highway. I could hear traffic coming from the other way so I stopped to herd them across the highway and over the short guard rail so they could get to the forest where they were obviously better off.

I think I definitely earned my biscuits and gravy today!


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