Happy Thanksgiving 2019

Snow on the Sangre de Cristo Mountains

According to Isaiah Chapter 61, He will give us beauty for ashes and joy for mourning. I am thankful this year for a return to peace and prosperity in my house after all those catastrophic years when my wife was dying of cancer. For a long time it didn’t seem like there was much to give thanks for but somehow I always found something to be thankful for, if nothing else that I had a meal to eat on the day and hope for the future.

I’m not one for a huge feast, for gorging myself until I’m sick on this day. In fact I like to

Fiisky Herd of Mule Deer in the Snow

start the day out in the quiet of the woods, burning  a few calories and getting close to my Creator before celebrating His Great Mercy as weremember that first year that the founders of our nation celebrated their survival in the new land.

When I glanced out the window as the sunlight began to stream over the ridge I could see it was going to be a beautiful morning to be outside. So I loaded up my snowshoes and my camera and headed for one of my favorite trails. The clouds and mist on the high peaks of the

Young mule deer buck in the snow

Sangre de Cristo Range and Pikes Peak were stunning this morning so of course I had to photograph them! Unfortunately there was so much mist from the recent snows that detail on the great mountains is somewhat obscured, but still amazing to behold!

Thanks to all the new snow, the steep sections of the trail isn’t really safe without some kind of traction, snowshoes were my choice today. Not that it takes much convincing, there isn’t much I enjoy more than the sound of the snow crunching beneath my big shoes 🙂

About a mile in I spotted a small herd of mule deer frolicking in the snow so I got my

Winter on Pikes Peak

camera ready and approached slowly and not directly at the animals so as not to spook them too much. They were already aware of my presence but were unconcerned. For some reason they were running around in the snow under the little aspen stand and I quickly figured out why. It is still the deer rut season and the buck was chasing the uninterested does around. Eventually one of the does made her way down the other side of the ridge for lower elevation and the buck followed her, out of sight. The other does went the other direction towards a big hill that they like to spend their days on enjoying the bright Colorado sunshine.

I hiked on to the top of the ridge where I usually turn around and decided that was going to be enough for the day. I wanted to get home in time to create a Youtube video and to get a few of these images published to stock in time for publishers rush to get their advertising campaigns done for the Christmas season.

Now I feel I have accomplished enough to sit down and enjoy a glass of wine and some Thanksgiving turkey. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

If you like my photography please visit my image website to purchase prints, wall art and tons of cool gift items and tech gadgets with my pictures on them!

 

Autumn Adventure with the Bighorns

Bighorn Sheep In Waterton Canyon

Probably our most successful outing with the bighorn sheep of the season. It was a great start to the day… a short ride of only a couple miles and we were already seeing sheep, right where they have  been congregating at the mouth of beautiful Waterton Canyon. At the time of our arrival though there were just a small group of ewes, youngsters and one big ram hanging around on the not very picturesque mountainside so we decided to press ahead past the diversion dam to see if we might see the bear or maybe the bigger herd of battling rams.

We saw no more wildlife at all on the four mile ride to the crossover so we decided to

Bighorn Rut Season in Waterton Canyon

just turn around and head back to where we saw the small herd. unfortunately the turnaround greeted Kevin with a flat front tire and there was nothing to do but walk the three miles back down 😦

But the good news was, when we got back down to the sheep, that a couple more rams had joined the action and were jostling each other around a bit while also chasing around the ewes. Pictured in the video, one of the rams took quite a fancy to one of the girls and was chasing her all over the place. However, she wanted nothing to do with him and every time he got close she ran off. finally her patience was gone and she turned around to give him an unexpected blow between the eyes with her own horns… obviously she didn’t have the horns or the mass of a male, lol… but he did look pretty surprised for a little bit! After quite a few minutes of the chase she finally just laid down and put an end to it.

Eventually the entire herd decided to take a break and laid down in the shade of the big trees lining the bank of the South Platte River. We decided to do the same and I found a nice spot to sit on the other side of the jeep road. I wondered if we were done for the day but it was no more than a half hour before a few of the little ones were back up and meandering down the embankment for a drink at the river.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

The underbrush there was pretty thick and there did not appear to be a pathway to the river, but I knew if we didn’t get down to the riverbank we were going to have no opportunity at all for photography. I grabbed my trekking pole and picked my way down the steep riverbank to the thick vines at the bottom. As it turns out there was a faint trail at the base of a big cottonwood so I fought my way through.  And there they were, a little group of the youngsters and one ewe on the shoreline of the pristine river getting a drink. I picked a spot nearby, noticing that they were casting a wary look in my direction. I thought maybe if I just sat down a little distance away they might not perceive me as a threat and go back to their normal routine. It turned out to be a successful strategy and I was able to get some wonderful pictures with the beautiful blue water in the background. In the meantime a couple of ewes and little ones crossed over to try out the vegetation on the other side.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

There was a commotion on the other side of the river as a ram began chasing one of the girls around over there. Her evasion tactic was going to be a river crossing but the ram was not going to be deterred by a little water. He just chased her right into the river where we were waiting with our cameras at the ready 🙂 At first I wasn’t sure I liked my shot of this, but the drama of the event is growing on me and this image has become one of my favorites of the day.

Eventually the big ram became interested in the girls on the other side and he too

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

decided to cross, the moment I had been waiting for! As soon as I perceived that he was going to cross I quickly made my way down the embankment and through the thick brush. Much to my surprise the massive beast had come down another way at the same time and I found myself in an unnerving face to face encounter with a huge bighorn sheep ram! I had no desire for a head butting challenge with the great beast so I quickly backed away and told him I’d be going the other way! He kind of looked at me and then thankfully turned towards the water in another direction.

Here I got some nice video footage of a few more of the young ones standing with the grandfather of the herd along the water, and eventually some shots of him in the water as well. It was one of those moments, at the completion of it, when you just know. I got the shots I came for. We packed up our gear and headed for the truck. My guess is that with such low key tussling among the rams on this day that the rut season is winding down. Will probably take a break from the canyon next week and do something else… some snow shoeing maybe!

As always, these pictures and more are available for purchase on my image website as wall art, Christmas cards, t-shirts, blankets, pillows, tech gadgets and more! Also feel free to watch the youTube video!

 

A Day in Limbo

Majestic Bull Elk bugling on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

Grounded… truck in the hospital getting new brakes and I’m stuck at the computer on a perfectly beautiful late autumn day 😦 But I  guess that’s ok, I still have dozens of pictures to work on from my recent adventures in Rocky Mountain National Park and Waterton Canyon 🙂

Today I processed these two and placed them on my print website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets ready for hanging, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting. Tons of cool gift items are also available, including holiday cards, coffee mugs, t-shirts, household goods such as pillows and blankets, tech gadgets like battery chargers and phone chargers and much much more!

Click to explore, Christmas is well on the way!!

Bighorn Sheep In Autumn Colors

 

An Amazing Scene in the Rockies

I consider it a privilege to have been part of this amazing scene high in the Colorado Rockies as a big bull elk managed his herd in view of my camera. Pictures don’t quite do the scene justice as there was so much more for the five senses to capture. The elk were

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

talking among each other and moving around as the big bull bellowed out his commands. Occasionally the cows would temporarily escape the attention of the alpha and try to separate from the herd. But it was never long before the supreme leader would discover the escape attempt and run to head off the insurrection.

At one point we heard the call of another bull over the ridge and out of our sight. The big bull also heard and went off to investigate, not about to let another male lure his harem away. He went out of sight for a while before returning. Later on we meandered over the ridge ourselves to see if another herd might be worth photographing but it was just one bull, resting in the meadow while

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

making sure to bugle out his availability to any stray cows. He seemed in no mood for a fight with the alpha, not even bothering to stand and make a challenge. Perhaps an epic battle had already been decided earlier in the elk rut season.

I did shoot this short video  for my Youtube Channel with the hope that I could capture the essence of this evening with a little sound to go with it.  In the video the bull is circling around from the south to keep his harem from scattering. I was fortunate to capture the bugling of the bull as he went about his business! Development of my channel is still in it’s infancy as I get more practice with a medium that I have neglected up until recently, but please, feel free to subscribe if you would like to be notified as more footage is added.

Also these images and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting. Tons of other cool gifts and gadgets are also available with my Rocky Mountain art so feel free to click and explore!

Cool Pictures from RMNP

Slowly making my way through the almost 900 images from this year’s trip to Rocky

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Misty Rocky Mountain Morning

Mountain National Park. For some reason I overlooked these in the editing process, the morning after the camp out. It was cold on that Wednesday morning, around freezing when I awoke just before sunrise. As I was walking around trying to get warm I noticed that it seemed kind of foggy or hazy or something… Was hoping my camera  buddy… and driver for this trip would soon awaken so we didn’t miss the morning show in the meadow! As luck would have it, another party awakening nearby just happened to set off their car alarm, abruptly awakening everyone in the entire campground 🙂

The elk were already active in the meadow, wandering around, eating and talking

Longs Peak at First Light

among themselves, the bull bugling out his commands… The meadow was filled with elk and an amazing mist, creating this mystical scene that I will never forget! The breeze was moving the mist around creating endless photo ops with the elk moving in and out of the foggy scene. The morning glow was lighting Longs Peak towering high above the fog in the valley. I had accidentally left my gloves  behind and my hands were frozen from the cold metal of the tripod but I kept shooting, I knew the scene would only last until the sun cleared the mountains to the east.

But I got these and a few more before the warmth of the day burned off all the mist and the harshness of the morning sun overcame the beautiful predawn glow. As always these pictures are available for purchase as wall art on my website on glossy acrylic or metal sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting!

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Misty Rocky Mountain Morning

Brave Little Pack

Had an awesome little trek this morning… Got to the trailhead acceptably early so I was hopeful that I would be in time for a successful wildlife encounter. Put the camera on ISO 400 and selected only the center focus point, my preferred setting for precise focusing on the animals eye, and strapped the camera over my back with the big lens attached. Off we went up the trail… me and the big dog. As we cleared the summit I spotted some movement in the shade and readied the camera, ready for the herd of deer to present itself. Lol… well it was a herd all right, not deer but wild turkeys! By the time I readjusted my composition the little buggers had already scampered into the dense forest 😦 Oh well… all I could see was there little heads above the thick mountain grass anyway.

Small Pack of Coyotes

Onward and upward… soon we had traversed the mountain and were on our way back down when I heard the bark of a dog followed by a couple more barks. I assumed the barking was coming from the parking lot far below until I heard a chorus of howls to go with the racket. It was my little pack of coyotes that  I had photographed in the spring just as they were in the process of beginning their new lives 🙂 It took a bit but I was finally able to spot them in a thicket of trees, by now all joining in on the beautiful wilderness song. I had to smile though, they are bigger now but their squeaky voices are still small 🙂 I think their original plan was to hold their position in the thicket and stand their ground but after seeing the massive size of Big Dog they soon lost their nerve and took off for a more distant position from which to make their presence known.

Even with the big 400mm lens attached, the animals were too far away for a salable

Small Pack of Coyotes

capture… but I at least got these to record the amazing encounter with these distant shots 🙂 Already though on my Instagram account… a comment to jolt me back to this present reality, something about an AR-15 which I of course immediately deleted. Some people, all they can think of when they see an animal is how they can kill it. These little predators are not hurting anyone and they deserve to live in peace, performing their intended task of  keeping the rodent population down. It’s no wonder there are so many mass shootings in these times, we live in a culture of death which will only worsen until people are taught from an early age to value all life, starting with an appreciation for these beautiful wild creatures.

Deer Mountain

Herd of Deer on the Mountainside

If this good fortune keeps up I think I’m going to rename this mountain… Deer Mountain sounds like a good name!  When we began our climb these ladies were in the shade so I didn’t even know they were there until I was halfway up the hillside. Finally though the light and my angle changed and there they were! It was about 40 degrees by then, the sun shining, just a perfect place to stop and take a few pictures. Big Dog was content trying to dig to China in some holes that the ground squirrels had made.

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words… a time like this 🙂 My words just can’t adequately describe this amazing moment in time, so I’ll just let the pictures do it for me.

Herd of Deer on the Mountainside