Winter Has Arrived

Storm on Pikes Peak

After a long sunny autumn a major change is afoot. Cooler temperatures and moisture have enveloped the Pikes Peak Region and even the animals seem to know that it’s time to get ready. The change was first evident on massive 14,150 foot Pikes Peak in the form of blowing mist and fog, a phenomenon I have enjoyed photographing since I moved to the southern mountains of Colorado. Now heavy clouds have moved in and snow is on the way later today. Hopefully that will make for a beautiful morning filled with wildlife out gathering food after the foul weather.

Mule Deer Bucks in the Rockies

As I arrived at the trailhead I spotted the Three Amigos trotting over the ridge, well out of camera range but still a welcome sight. The does at the summit weren’t in the rush that the boys were and remained for a few pictures. The fourth buck who sometimes joins the Three Amigos was lingering in the forest as I approached the summit, standing in perfect light. I stretched out the legs of my monopod and attached the camera… By then he had spotted me and took a few steps toward me which I welcomed until he stopped in the shade to stare at me. Now I was faced with a very bright background and a dark subject. I waited a few minutes for him to move back into the sun but was eventually compelled to settle for a silhouette. I left my exposure with the settings for a sunny image and shot the silhouette.

Mule Deer Bucks in the Rockies

After a few captures I adjusted my exposure compensation to +2/3 of a stop to see if I could brighten up his face a bit and shot a few more. The does were much more cooperative, content in the warm sunshine feeding on the nutritious foliage being served to them by one of the local bush species.

It wasn’t a huge day but I got a great workout in the mountains, got to check on my four footed friends and even got a few nice images in the process. But I am ready for the snow to spread down from the peak into the valleys later and hope for a much bigger day of photography tomorrow!

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

Hanging with the Bucks

I was up well before sunrise hoping to see the deer pass through the beautiful meadows of the high country before going off to rest in the shade of the dense pine forest. As I made my way up the mountain I could see their ghostly figures moving toward the summit in the predawn light, small herds of bucks and does making their way separately. I knew if I could quietly get into position without causing them to run I would get a chance to photograph them just as the sun was clearing the ridge to the east.

Mule Deer Bucks in the Rockies

And I was not disappointed… It wasn’t long before the first regal buck made his way into the clearing, a majestic figure against the morning sky. It wasn’t long before the handsome beasts were aware of me sitting on my rock, staring at me for a few seconds as they sized me up… threat or not? I was glad to see they were going to tolerate my presence as they went back to grazing on the high mountain grass. As the sun began to rise in the sky the crisp mountain morning began to become uncomfortably warm and the deer retreated to a pine shaded oasis on the summit to lie down for an early morning nap. I have no idea how long their night was or how long of a journey it was for them to reach the mountaintop but they were definitely ready for a break. I have to say I was a bit surprised that they were comfortable enough with me that they could just lay down and rest a few feet from me!

Autumn Colors in Colorado

I decided to leave them in peace so I arose and walked directly away from the group. It cost me an extra half mile around the mountainside to avoid startling them but I was hoping that I would be able to return in a couple of hours to find them once again grazing and doing deer stuff.

I traveled on over to the gold mines of Goldfield hoping to capture some beautiful autumn color around the mines and on Pikes Peak, and perhaps some early morning wildlife in the open prairie there. Didn’t see any wildlife but the leaves were beautiful this morning although I can see they are past the prime now. It won’t be long before this mountainside is covered by a mantle of white, in fact I am already hearing rumors of snow rolling in next week. That’s ok with me… I think these mountains are happier with a fresh blanket of snow.

Mule Deer Bucks in the Rockies

Eventually I was ready to return to Victor for some coffee but unfortunately my usual hangout wasn’t quite prepared with the morning nourishment so I decided to try out a new place, the Phantom Canyon Coffee shop. This place has just recently opened and they don’t have a full blown website yet, but I can see it is going to be a great addition to the new Victor. The help is friendly and the atmosphere hip and inviting… and the coffee tasty and hot 🙂 I say new Victor because the old Victor nearly became a ghost town a few years ago. Now there is new blood moving to town and the town is reconstituting itself as a quaint mountain art and eats mecca, drawing people from cities up and down the front range wanting to check out the new places and historic attachment to the 1800’s gold mining boom.

Mule Deer Bucks in the Rockies

After becoming sufficiently caffeinated I returned to the mountain to check on the little band of bucks. Sure enough they were done with their morning respite and were back to feeding on the dry mountain grass. I slowly maneuvered back into position as we once again went through the ritual of suspicion followed by grudging acceptance. This time I found a good seat on top of some mine tailings where I sat and watched for at least an hour before they meandered over the ridge and out of sight. I had acquired enough images for one day and decided not to disturb them any further.

I finished out the day with a visit to the Victor Gold Camp Artist’s Coop where I have some of my work displayed… Turned out to be a fortuitous visit… One of the customers was interested in my framed elk picture from our visit to Rocky Mountain National Park earlier this fall, and as I was there to tell the story of the image I made the sale 🙂 Now I’m going to have to find another awesome frame so I can get another one done!

Now, home in front of the computer I can see it was a very successful morning. I will be uploading quite a few from today, starting with just a few that I was able to produce today. I hope you enjoy the pictures!

 

Mule Deer Bucks in the Rockies

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

Sheltered Bucks

Hiked my mountain again looking for the dusky grouse, who once again remained hidden and all I  got was some good exercise climbing up to his domain. No pictures, no video, no view of the mountains… just exercise. Due to all the smoke and haze we haven’t been able to see the distant peaks of the Sangre de Cristo all summer. So anyway, I eventually got back to the trailhead and the mock gold mine put their as a park for people to use.

Buck in the Window

It was about the right time of day for the Three Amigos to come strolling through so I was trying to be quiet while keeping an eye out for my three favorite mule deer bucks. As I strode past the old blacksmith’s shop I was surprised to see one of the bucks peering at me from outside the building on the other side. I prepared for him to trot around the building to make his escape but he just kept staring at me through the opening.

So I readied my camera and snapped a couple of shots before moving on. I didn’t want to cause him to run because there is some barbed wire surrounding the compound and I didn’t want him to get injured. Then I spotted him peering out at me from the inside of the building! That in itself isn’t that amazing, all three of the bucks often use the building for shelter in the wintertime, but they usually bolt at the first sign of my presence.

Buck in the Window

The flies are just terrible up there after all the rain we’ve been having so I suspect he was in there seeking shelter from the bugs. And he wasn’t in any hurry to leave so I stopped to snap a few more of him through the side window and then the doorway. They aren’t the greatest pictures due to the relative darkness in the building, but I have to say they are still one in a million!

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

Buck in the Shelter

Buck in the Shelter

 

Autumn in Rocky Looking forward to next weeks return visit! Be sure to subscribe to my channel so you don’t miss this year’s adventure!

Video of autumn in the Park. Looking forward to next weeks return visit! Be sure to subscribe to my channel so you don’t miss this year’s adventure!

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.