Good Hunting

Coyote on the Hunt

Up late last night so today’s trek got off to a late start. I was quite surprised to see this healthy looking coyote doing his part in the heat of the mid morning sun to keep the prairie dog population under control. I wasn’t very close but my big 400mm Canon brought him in well enough to get a decent image. I wanted to take the time to attach my 1.4x but he was on the move so I figured I had better get while the getting was good! Sure enough, it wasn’t long before I was noticed and the little prairie wolf was putting distance between us in a hurry!

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Elk on the Run

Sangre de Cristo Sunset

Not a huge morning for photography… But it was a fabulous morning for a hike with the big dog. I chose to tackle the high ridge again today because I know there is a herd of buck mule deer up there that have been eluding me for some time now. Unfortunately, today was no different. I was looking hard for the animals when we cleared the top of the ridge but didn’t see any sign that the beasties where there today. All of a sudden from behind a grove of trees I saw the backs of the deer as they high tailed it for the safety of the dense woods with no chance whatsoever of a picture.

It was a beautiful sunrise though, the distant mountains were obscured a bit by smokeMountain Wildflowers and haze but the effect on the nearer mountains created a nice effect. There was also a good crop of wildflowers blooming everywhere, probably what is tempting the mule deer herd so.

Finally as we neared the end ofΒ  our trek I noticed a herd of elk in the distance. I had hoped that they would stop and look at me, but they were definitely in a hurry to go somewhere! Seems every time I see elk these days they are on the run. I thought I was being quite stealthy and I don’t think they knew we were there but they were in a hurry

Elk Running in the Colorado High Country

anyway. I suppose they feel quite nervous out in the open and they were just trying to get to the safety of the wilderness as quickly as possible! I did get this shot of three of them going the other way and I’m thinking it has a good chance of being successful in the stock photograph world!

Perhaps I will outsmart the deer tomorrow… in the meantime I’m going to get a good meal in my belly!

Summer Doe

Cute Doe Mule DeerNot finding much wildlife these days, the sun comes up so early and it is already hot by 8:00 a.m. By this time most of the wildlife has retreated to the cool of the dense forest… and out of view for this photographer! There was one doe today, pausing to enjoy the lush mountain grass which has grown tall and green from all of the rain and snow we’ve had this year. She cast a wary eye in our direction but continued to feed between furtive glances. Each time I waited for her to look up before snapping a picture… pictures of an animal with it’s head in the grass make for a pretty boring subject. I was hoping a few more of the beautiful wildflowers would show brightly, but it is what it is.

Cute Doe Mule Deer

Beautiful Morning in the High Country

Deer in the Rockies

I have to say, it was a spectacular morning in the high country of Colorado today. Sun shining, not too hot, nice breeze πŸ™‚ And the wildlife seemed to like it too, there were quite a few out feeding on the nice green mountain grass… thanks to all the rain we have been getting lately. I think I have heard somewhere recently that they have declared the drought “over” πŸ™‚

Saw a beautiful buck up by the mines but he saw us first and vanished without a trace, with no chance at all for a picture 😦 Also saw this young buck and a doe mule deer that weren’t quite as skittish and then a rare treat with a couple of elk. The elk were on the move so this was the best shot I could get of them traveling in the other direction. At first I thought it was just a couple of cows but now on the computer I can see the lead animal is a big bull elk. Looks like his antlers are coming along nicely for the fall rut… only a couple of months

Deer in the Rockies

away!

The elk were too distant for a print so I haven’t uploaded that one to my website, but the deer can be found in the wildlife gallery as wall art on metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting.

Elk Running in the Colorado High Country

Brown’s Canyon National Monument

Brown’s Canyon National Monument is another one of Colorado’s hidden gems… almost too well hidden! I’ve been wanting to visit this place for years, ever since I missed the day of hiking with the Sierra Club. Well I finally did it πŸ™‚ I was in the area photographing rafters on the Arkansas until finally I found myself in Salida. What the heck, the park is just on the other side of Salida so I consulted my phone for directions and headed up 291 in search of the entrance… piece of cake πŸ™‚

Arkansas River in Brown's Canyon National Monument

Not a piece of cake. You would think that being a national monument there would be huge signs everywhere. But no… no signs anywhere 😦 Totally passed it by, drove all the way up 291 until I finally hit Johnson Village and had to turn back around. At that point I decided to let my GPS guide me in and managed to find the place, County Road 191 to the east from 291 will take you right in… after a couple of miles on a curvy dirt road over a ridge. When you finally do get there you will be greeted by a big sign with some of those fee envelopes and a $8.00 per day use fee. So I paid my fee, dropped the envelope in the box and went on in.

There is a large parking area and a campground along the Arkansas River where the

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rafting companies were all ready to pick up rafters. I grabbed my camera and trusty trekking pole and headed down a trail along the river towards the south. The original plan was to mountain bike back in but it didn’t take long to ascertain that the trail was above my meager riding skill level so I just hoofed it in a ways. The trail and the river are amazing and the area is vast. I imagine you could easily hike for days and not see it all.

 

By this time it was really hot and dry and I was not at all prepared for a long hike so I just turned around and vowed to hike up the other direction for a while but quickly abandoned that idea too and chalked the whole visit up to a successful scouting mission for a longer visit on another more prepared day.

On my way back through Salida the Soulcraft Brewery looked like the perfect answer to my parched throat and worthy of a stop πŸ™‚ Tried the Dopple Bock brew and it was delicious. Being short of time I didn’t try any food, and didn’t really see anyone else eating either. I assume they have food there, but would have to be something for another day as well.

Cute Doe Mule DeerWas hoping to photograph some more rafters along the Arkansas on my return trip, but by the time I was passing by again the rafting was all over for the day. Nothing but the long drive home to look forward to at this point.

If you are a fly fisherman the trail along the river is an awesome place to visit! For hiking though, I’m not so sure. There are no high peaks to scale and except for along the river it appears that there are a lot of miles of parched land to explore. It appears to me that the Continental Divide Trail passes through there on it’s way to the Collegiate Peaks near Buena Vista and there are miles of fun to be had for moderately skilled mountain bikers and a lot of rocky cliffs for rock climbers to hone their skills on! And I didn’t see many in the heat of the day, but I imagine there would be a ton of wildlife to photograph early in the morning.

 

 

Young Buck Mule Deer

Young Buck in the Colorado Rockies

Pretty uneventful trek this morning, unfortunately I awoke far too late to see much wildlife action. There was this one young buck at the summit though πŸ™‚ Got a few captures before Big Dog noticed him… of course he was on his leash, but one good huff at the sight of the big buck and that was the end of it 😦 Don’t think I’ll bother to make a print of this one… his face was in the shade with the sun shining way too brightly on the background.

Beautiful Colorado Mountain Buck Deer

Interesting hike this morning… as we passed over the summit of the little mountain I could hear the livestock bellowing. As they came into view I discovered that it wasn’t just the cows talking, there was a bull as well, none to happy to see me and the big dog. I expect he was just warning his herd of the possibility of danger but I was not in the mood for a confrontation with a big bull so we just turned back around the other side of the mountain about a quarter mile short of the normal turnaround.Β  SoonΒ  the bull and his harem settled down and we were safely on our way back down the mountain.

Beautiful Buck Deer Sprouting Antlers

It wasn’t long before Big Dog was sniffing the air and dancing… like he does when he has detected a wild animal in the distance. You never know whether the animal might still be around or if he has just left behind a scent for the dog to smell,Β  so I got my camera ready in case of a deer or elk sighting. Soon I spotted him, this beautiful buck mule deer back in the trees at the edge of a nice field of grass and wildflowers. He was already well aware of our presence as well so I knew I wasn’t going to get any closer. I snapped a couple against the rising sun that I knew weren’t optimal shots but I wanted to make sure I at least had a rough record of the sighting. What I was hoping for though was that we might be able to ease around the mountainside to the east so that I could get better lighting on his face and today fate was kind. He didn’t move and just kept staring at us to see what our intentions might be.

Fortunately I was able to make a few captures with him standing perfectly still in the sun for me so that I would have something to upload to stock and this blog post πŸ™‚ Due to the nice soft early morning light I selected ISO 400 in hopes of a fast enough shutter speed to get this hand held image with my big 400mm lens. As I take a close look here on the big computer screen it appears as though I earned my money today πŸ™‚ You can see he is well on his way to a huge rack of antlers for the coming rut. You can even see the velvet still covering the new growth if you look closely πŸ™‚