Bear and Bighorn

Bighorn Sheep Cooling in the Platte River

My mountain bike trek into the back country was way late yesterday, well beyond the early morning hours best for spotting wildlife… of course I brought my camera anyway, you never know! About three miles in I spotted a small herd of bighorn sheep ewe with a few lambs sunning themselves on a rocky knoll across from the Platte River. I parked my bike and got out the camera hoping for a few nice pictures to mark the day.

On my way back to my bike after a few shots of the ladies and their babies I spotted something moving in the water on the other side of the stream. OMG, it was the bear that I have long been seeking, this one a cinnamon colored black bear taking a break from the heat of the day in the cool Rocky Mountain water. I placed the camera on the monopod and snapped a few pictures from my vantage point on the opposite side of the river from the bear. Soon I

Colorado Black Bear

decided to go back to my pack for the 1.4x lens extension for some closer views.

By the time I returned though, the beautiful bear had completed her swim and was back on the riverbank nearly out of sight in the dense foliage lining the river. It was at that moment that I spotted more movement in the leaves and upon closer inspection with my long lens I discovered not one but two little cubs clamoring to keep pace with their mommy! They were making their way west in search of berries in the trees along the bank so I hopped back on my bike to follow.

Colorado Black Bear Family

The trio meandered along the shoreline of the pristine river, the little ones occasionally stopping to play while mom searched for the food she would need to survive the long Rocky Mountain winter. At one point the little ones got spooked by something and ran back downstream to search for a convenient place to climb to safety. Mom patiently walked back downstream to retrieve the youngsters and the journey upstream continued. Finally I captured my favorite shot of the day as the little ones frolicked, mom and one of the babies together! I had hoped to catch all three but the little ones proved to be much to busy to stop and pose for me πŸ™‚ I believe I’ll return the week after next with

Colorado Black Bear Family

the hope that I will see them again before they crawl into their cave in the rugged cliffs for the winter.

Eventually the little family arrived at a particularly rugged and steep section of cliff and rock where mom led the little ones up a precarious crevice behind the rocks where there appeared to be a good source of food. I could no longer see the bears, only the trees shaking as the cinnamon bear bent the branches down for her babies, so I climbed on my bike and made my way back to the trailhead.

Wow… what a privilege it was to see these amazing animals up close… and to get to photograph them, amazing. A few others had gathered to take in the amazing scene but the bears paid no mind to the people on the other side of the river. I would like to see the little family make the river their permanent home, living out their lives in peace in the safety of the rugged cliffs of the canyon along with the growing herd of bighorn sheep.

As always, these pictures and more are available on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting. Also available are many household products, tech items and stationary, all with a beautiful #swkrullimaging photograph!

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The Three Amigos

Majestic buck mule deer

An amazing morning on top of the mountain greeted me today… As I cleared the ridge I noticed something new out in the meadow. At first I thought maybe it was a bush I hadn’t noticed before but I was curious enough to take a look through the long lens just to be sure. As it turns out it was a buck mule deer with his head turned away from me so that he just looked like a round blob in the distance!

I made my way over the summit and down towards the right in hopes that I could get a Three Buck mule deerlittle closer without disturbing him when I discovered a second buck lying down in the grass. Then the third big guy came out from behind a tree to take a look at me and I recognized the magnificent trio as my favorite Three Amigos, three buck mule deer that have been hanging together all summer πŸ™‚ These are the closest and clearest shots that I have ever been able to capture of this little stag club!

Three Bucks on a Ridge

They weren’t too worried about me at the distance I chose to set up my gear but eventually they did began to amble off towards the wilderness on top of the ridge.

As usual, these images and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas or traditional framing and matting. Also many unique gift and household items are available with a picture including apparel, bedding, tech items such as battery chargers and phone cases and more! Just click on the link to my website to explore all the possibilities!

Furtive Little Deer Herd

Pair of doe mule deer

Today’s payoff was this cute little herd of very active deer. They were kind of running in circles while they figured out where to go next making it very difficult to get their pictures! Every time I pointed my camera at the one that was looking my direction they would look away! The ones looking right into the camera are my favorite but that just wasn’t going to happen today! And with the moving all around it was difficult to get a decent composition! But it was still fun to see them and I hope you enjoy the best of what I was able to capture this morning πŸ™‚

Pair of doe mule deer and a buck

Morning Sunshine

With a terrible ache in my heart I set out on my morning routine without my four legged friend. It was hard but there isn’t really anything else to do, I need the exercise, I need the pictures, and I need to eat breakfast. The other choice is to sit at home and do nothing which is no choice at all for me… I have to go, that’s just the way it is.

Deer Herd in the Wilderness

It’s been a long time since I have seen my deer friends on the ridge but today I looked up and there she was, peering out from the forest at me. She paused long enough for me to attach my camera to the monopod and get a couple of shots off in the beautiful morning sunshine of a late Colorado summer day.

As I proceeded further along the trail I heard the thundering of hooves as a couple of bucks just below the summit detected my presence and made a run for it. I was

Deer Herd in the Wilderness

hoping they would not run too far before turning around to see what I was up to. The good news is they did stop, but the bad news was they stopped part way into the shade of a tall pine tree at the edge of the wilderness. I took the shot anyway hoping that I would be able to make a decent picture in post with Photoshop. I’m not totally thrilled with it but at least there is a record of the sighting πŸ˜‰

From that point I just descended the mountain and headed off to breakfast. With tears in my eyes I swallowed the last bite, the one I always saved for my exuberant friend. Anyway, it’s done… I made it all the way through the morning. Maybe tomorrow will be easier.

The picture of the doe is available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas or traditional framing and matting. All kinds of cool gift and household items are also available with a picture including apparel, tech items, stationary and more.

 

Huge Bull Elk

Had to share my mountaintop with a huge bull elk this morning. As I cleared the ridge I spotted a few buck mule deer in the distance running back and forth making it difficult

Lone Bull Elk in the Rockies

to get a decent shot. As I moved around a grove of trees in hopes of getting a closer view without disturbing them even more I spotted something else in the woods staring out at me. A massive bull elk was peering through the branches at me! I quickly attached my camera to the monopod / trekking pole and got off a couple of zooms. Unfortunately my camera must have picked up a branch or twig near the animal’s face because those turned out slightly out of focus 😦

As I continued my way along the trail the elk moved out into a clearing where he was keeping a close eye on me. I got a few captures with him posing against the wildflower filled meadow and then he moved onto the top of the ridge where I was able to include the Sangre de Cristo mountain range in the background.Lone Bull Elk in the Rockies

Unfortunately it was quite a gloomy morning so the images don’t pop as much as I would like, but I’m very happy to have seen the majestic beast and happy to include these images into the permanent record πŸ™‚

As always, these images and more are available for purchase on my website in the elk and wildlife galleries!

My Go To Move

One go to move has served me well throughout my entire life, when I am down and can’t think of anything I want to do I can always find the motivation to “get in shape”. Since my best buddy crossed Rainbow Bridge last week I haven’t felt like doing anything, nothing sounds good, nothing sounds fun and I have been just laying around the house watching stupid shows on TV.

Bucks in Grouse MeadowBut today the old message finally came through, “You can’t get all out of shape now.”. So even though I didn’t want to and I knew I was going to feel nothing but sadness on top of the mountain that I have never climbed without my Big Dog, I packed up my gear and drove to the trailhead.Β  It took a lot less timeΒ  to reach the summit without having to stop and dig up every prairie dog hole along the way and I got a lot more out of breath with the more steady pace that I can set without so many distractions.

But without the unbridled enthusiasm of my big four legged buddy to light the way, most of the joy has been removed from the experience. However there is still the idea in the back of my head that I am training for something greater, perhaps there will be a 14er in my future, or maybe a long hike into the wilderness to see a waterfall. I have been looking at Mount Quandary on my 14ers.com account… Maybe it will be my first peak in my sixth decade of life on this earth. Time will tell.

I didn’t see any animals at the summit, but on my way down I encountered my three buck mule deer friends who were on their way in a hurry, probably to some favorite location in the high meadows πŸ™‚

Bucks in Grouse Meadow

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 thatΒ  I had photographed in the spring just as they were in the process of beginning their new lives πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚ 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 ofΒ  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.