Ghost in the Grass

A perfect day so far… Started out with biscuits and gravy at the Gold Camp Bakery, one of my favorite things to do ๐Ÿ™‚ It was a nice cool morning too so I decided on a good long hike above  the treeline in the Pike National Forest. I thought I was going to get picture when I heard the unmistakable screech of the hawk in the blue sky above me, but he turned aside instead of making the anticipated fly over. The deer and elk I was hoping to see at the summit also didn’t appear so I just enjoyed a wonderful hike in the amazing countryside of the mountains.

Coyote on the Hunt

Eventually I reached my turnaround point, and headed back down the mountain satisfied that I had gotten a good workout and the peace of mind that comes with time spent in nature. As I descended, my eyes scanned the horizon for a photo op… Then our eyes met… mine and a ghostly coyote in the grass on the other side of the valley. I quickly raised my camera and took the shot, no time to mess with settings or focus, I just had to hope that I had planned ahead for what was before me.

The beautiful predator quickly noticed that I was aware of his presence and disappeared over the ridge. Now that I am in front of the monitor I am pleasantly surprised at the image I was able to capture in that split second. It never ceases to amaze me, the encounters I experience out in the the Colorado Rockies by myself.

Red-Tailed Hawk in Flight

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 itโ€™s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

Beautiful Coyote on the Hunt

Finally got the video done from the other day to go with my blog post of a similar name… Hope you enjoy and don’t forget to click the subscribe button if you want to support my channel, it will help me in the rankings and help my channel to grow!

Coyote on the Hunt

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.

Mountain Storm and a Coyote

Once again I started a day with low expectations and a main goal of getting some fresh air and some exercise. But like many mornings the mountains have a way ofย  surprising me. First the view of the Sangre de Cristo Range which I assumed would be completely obscured turned out to be magnificent. Our next cold front and ensuing snowstorm is nearly upon us and the storm clouds are already covering the spectacular mountain range. But right at sunrise good fortune greeted me with a break in the clouds and a stunning view of the highest peaks on the range.

Storm on the Sangre

As I was trying to video the beauty of the range, the camera lost focus as it has frequently been doing for a while now. I decided then and there that I was going to figure that problem out and put an end to it! Many cameras these days conceal menu items that aren’t available with the settings you are using at the time so I made sure I was in video mode and began to examine the focus settings. As it turns out somehow this winter I had changed the awesome smart tracking system on the Canon 90D to use single point auto focus which could probably be named dumb tracking. A quick turn of the wheel and click of the button, and the problem is resolved. And I had no idea the timeliness of that bit of good fortune…

Coyote on the Hunt

My next surprise came in the form of an absolutely gorgeous coyote hunting for rodents in the tall mountain grass. He quickly became aware of my presence but decided the hunting was too good for him to worry about me. I watched him for about an hour, witnessing several successful dives into the snow and grass after his prey. He wasted no time gobbling down his catch before continuing the hunt. I was already prepared for the action with my 400mm lens and 1.4x tele extension so I just concentrated on getting the best shots that I could. When I was confident that I had captured the still shots I needed I switched to video and captured some footage of the handsome creature in action. As I watched I wondered how such a beautiful shy creature minding it’s own business while ridding the countryside of those pesky rodents could be the subject of such hatred from his human enemies. The coyote has to be one of the most misunderstood animals in all of God’s creation. People just don’t understand the importance of these predators in keeping balance in the ecosystem of the mountains and surrounding countryside. I hope each and every one of you will call your representative and lobby against fur products and the wanton destruction of these animals.

Coyote on the Hunt

I guess the moral of this story is don’t let your low expectations stop you from going out. So many times I have seen the most amazing things on the days my expectations are the lowest. When it comes to photography, there is no substitute for being there when the action develops!

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.

Coyote on the Hunt

Fools Errand

Snowstorm on the Sangre

One glance out my front window this morning was all it took to convince me that today was a day that was not to be experienced from indoors! The storm clouds on the Sangre de Cristo Range were stunning and and the cold crisp mountain air needed to be experienced from the heights of alpine glory!

Coyote on the MountainI had just gotten started when I spotted a coyote hunting on the mountainside, too distant for a really good picture… So I determined that I should pursue him in an effort to get a better shot! He already knew of my presence so a direct approach was not going to work. It looked like the best idea was the long way around the mountain, out of the sight of the wary canine with a stealthy approach back down from the summit. A stiff icy wind was blowing in my face so I had high hopes that he would neither hear nor smell my approach.

Coyote on the Mountain

Sounded good on paper… until I went into oxygen debt trying to scale the steep mountain in overdrive ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Finally at the top I stood gasping for air looking around for the stealthy beast. For a brief moment it appeared my plan was successful, there he was no more than 30 yards away, staring out at me from the safety of the tall grass. I had cleared the summit ready to snap a picture… or so I thought ๐Ÿ˜ฆ The wily coyote had spotted me the instant I spotted him and as soon as I raised the camera he disappeared into the mountain grass like a ghost ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I knew in my heart he was gone, but I wandered over to the hillside anyway to see if I might catch a glimpse of him on his way back to the thick brush he calls home. Of course I was fully aware I was on a fools errand at that point, once a coyote decides to vanish there is little hope of seeing him again.

Snowstorm on the Sangre de Cristo

So I continued my trek over the summit to the edge of the west side where there would be a spectacular view of the majestic Sangre de Cristo Range with it’s brand new mantle of white. I can only imagine the horrendous winds that were propelling these amazing clouds and blowing snow.

I didn’t get the hero shot of the coyote but I am happy to have at least a small prize to commemorate the sighting. Also got some great exercise, fresh air and some great shots of the mountains after our latest winter storm ๐Ÿ™‚

Snowstorm on the Sangre de Cristo

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!

Coyote on the Mountain

Wild Morning

Rough Legged Hawk

It was a wild and wonderful morning on the mountain, I saw a little of everything today ๐Ÿ™‚ I wanted to see some wildlife today and I was debating a long drive to up my chances but in the end I decided on a short drive to my usual local trail. I knew it was a good omen as I was climbing the hill and I heard the screech of a hawk.ย  It sounded close by so I looked around and there he was perched on top of a power pole. Unfortunately he had is back to me and I couldn’t get a decent shot. So I waited hoping the big raptor would take flight but that didn’t work out either. When he finally flew he went down and all the power lines and the pole were in the way… later on I got a shot of him high in the brilliant blue Colorado sky but a closer shot would have been much nicer.

Herd of Mule Deer

I continued my trek up the hill and soon I spotted a lone doe mule deer in a perfect pose in the perfect morning light ๐Ÿ™‚ But now my camera was stuck. I live in Tv mode and the front wheel wouldn’t change the shutter speed, it was stuck on a 2000th of a second from my birds in flight efforts yesterday. So I went to manual and that was a no go too. Av mode was next on the list and it was fine but it was setting a wildly outrageous ISO which I quickly locked in at 400. Now, free to choose my exposure compensation with the real wheel I set up for the shot. By then a few more deer had moved into the lush meadow to feed and I probably got in about a half hour of uninterrupted shooting. Kind of wish now that I had done a little video, but in all the excitement it didn’t occur to me. Eventually for some unknown reason the front wheel started working again and I finished up the scene in the preferred Tv mode using a 500th and a 640th of a second for a few captures before the deer disappeared into the wilderness.

Sage Sparrow on a  Perch

Eventually I was on top of the ridge in the clearing where I heard a faint but urgent chirping to the north. I looked over but didn’t see anything… a closer look revealed a sage sparrow on top of a bush singing her song with a fresh batch of nesting materials in her mouth! Usually those little guys stay perched for about a billionth of a second but today she stayed for a full portrait session ๐Ÿ™‚

While descending the mountain I spotted a big coyote over by the prairie dogs standing and just staring at me. Naturally I stopped and snapped a few pictures before she began a wary retreat. Every few steps she would stop and look at me to see if I was a threat and I was hoping she would just stop and wait, but she finally trotted away and disappeared over the ridge.

Coyote Hunting Prairie DogsMy extraordinary morning in the mountains was at an end, I was back in the parking lot when I spotted what I first thought was the hawk again but it turned out to be a White American Pelican. I once again adjusted my camera for bird in flight and tried my hand at capturing he soaring majestically overhead. You can really go overboard with a bird soaring in the air with the rapid fire button and in about 10 minutes I had already rattled off about 150 more pictures… pictures I really didn’t feel like processing :( But a couple did turn out pretty nice so Iย  guess it was worth it :)

Fortunately a good number of my images from today made for good print candidates and

American Pelican

as always, the best of these images 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 donโ€™t forget to check out my YouTube channel if you want to see some ofย  my adventures in action!

Unsocial Distancing

Elk Herd on the Mountain

Hit the trail for the first time since my surgery, observing my usual “unsocial distancing” practice. My rule of thumb for that is six miles rather than six feet, basically I’m annoyed if I see anyone at all ๐Ÿ™‚

The climb up the ridge was not any easier than it was before I got all out of shape sitting around the house recovering, I had to stop a few times to catch my breath for sure! I thought for a minute I was going to have to turn around when I saw a giant snowdrift ahead but fortunately with all the freezing and thawing the snow was hard packed and easy to cross.

Elk Herd on the Mountain

The climb turned out toย  be worth it though when I saw the elk herd ๐Ÿ™‚ The lighting was horrible so I didn’t get the glory shot, but it sure was nice to be back in the great outdoors! And the frosting on the cake were my coyote friends who cut loose with a good coyote song for me while I hiked on past ๐Ÿ™‚ you can hear the beautiful song in this short video on my YouTube channel! Please subscribe to my channel if you like, I need a few more to get my custom URL!

The hike started out in snow and fog but by the time I reached the summit the beautiful snow capped Sangre de Cristo were beginning to shine through ๐Ÿ™‚

Storm Clouds on the Sangre de Cristo Range

 

Snow Shoes Required

Heavy Snow on the Sangre de Cristo

Today there were no questions about whether the snow shoes were going to be required. One look at the trail and the question was answered, deep snow all the way to the summit and beyond. There was a cold wind out of the west this morning and as I strode up the mountainside and it wasn’t long before my ears began to tingle in pain from the searing cold. I shivered a little and pulled my sweatshirt hood over my head and then for good measure I cinched up the hood from my windbreaker as well.

My hopeful eyes scanned the ridge line as the dense pine trees drew closer, but there

Heavy Snow on the Sangre de Cristo

was no wildlife in sight on this frigid morning. Finally I cleared the summit hoping to be greeted by the Three Amigos as I call them, the three bucks that seem to so thoroughly enjoy that mountaintop but they were not there. In fact there was no sign of life in the high clearing at all, no tracks, no droppings, nothing at all to indicate that I was going to have any wildlife photography success.

So I resigned myself to the idea that I was just going to have a nice snowshoe workout and maybe some good views of the mountains. And as always, the view from the summit never disappoints. The Sangre de Cristo were spectacular today under their heavy coat of

Heavy Snow on the Sangre de Cristo

fresh snow with what appears to be another winter storm gathering on the high peaks of the beautiful block fault range.

On my way down I encountered the tracks of a lone coyote and I wondered how he would survive the long hard Rocky Mountain winter. How could any animal survive the wicked cold and winds at this elevation? As I listened to the whoosh, whoosh of fresh powder beneath my snowshoes I found myself hoping he would, hoping I would hear the howls of his pack in the spring warning me not to get too close to a new litter of pups.

And as I thought upon the beauty of these small feisty predators it also came to mind that

Coyote

I shouldย  write some letters to the politicians to demand an end to the indiscriminate and cruel murder so many of these tenacious animals face, and I hope you will write some letters and make some calls too. And please make special mention of halting the inhumane and unnecessary medieval practice of trapping that has been banned in over 70 civilized countries all over the world. Also please do all you can to bring an end to “yoting”, the vile so called sport practiced in Wyoming and Montana described in this excellent article from High Country News,ย  of running these animals over with snowmobiles, leaving them wounded and maimed, left to suffer a horrible painful death, alone in the snow. What kind of people are they who think of this as fun?

As always, these pictures and more are available on my 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 and handy household items are also available, including coffee mugs, phone chargers, blankets and pillows, apparel, all with a beautiful Rocky Mountain image from SW Krull Imaging

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 ๐Ÿ˜ฆ 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 thatย  I had photographed in the spring just as they were in the process of beginning their new lives ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ofย  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.

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!

The Coyote

After a couple day’s rest I was feeling a bit better but today’s trek was still a bit of a mental struggle… I was starting to wish I had just stayed home when just then I spotted a couple of ears sticking up above a nearby ridge line. I didn’t know if the critter would go down into the ravine or come up and run along the top for a photo op but I got the camera ready anyway. Set to ISO 400 and middle focus zone I figured I’d be ready for whatever turn the scene might take.

Colorado Rocky Mountain Coyote running free

Well as luck would have it a coyote cleared the ridge, immediately spotted us and started to trot along the ridge line towards her home in the thick brush below. I just held the back button focus down and blazed away until my camera’s buffer was full. Then I shot a couple more for good measure.ย  Afterwards a quick check on my LCD screen looked promising. Exposure looked good and the images mostly looked sharp, even when zoomed in with the touch screen ๐Ÿ™‚

My joy at spotting this beautiful animal is tempered by sadness from some of the information I’ve been reading lately, though. Some people are afraid of coyotes… I don’t know why, they are afraid of people, prefer to eat small rodents or rabbits, and pretty much bother no one. Of course there is the odd city person who moves to the mountains, insists on living in the countryside in wildlife habitat and is then stunned to find out he can’t leave his shih tzu out in the yard at night, and of course there are the welfare ranchers who demand to be able to graze their sheep on public national forest land in predator country while not giving a damn about the wildlife or the people who enjoy watching them… but for the most part the wildlife prefers to mind it’s own business, bothering no one and performing their God given task of keeping the rodent population down.

I have known for quite some time that there is no shortage of hunters who love nothing

Colorado Rocky Mountain Coyote

more that blasting away at our beloved wildlife, not to mention people’s pets, a lady in her driveway, other hunters and pretty much anything else that moves, but I had no idea the depth of depravity that is condoned in some states until I recently read an article in Mountain Journal called “A Death Of Ethics: Is Hunting Destroying Itself?”. Apparently in many states predators including wolves, which were protected until Obama sold them out, are considered nuisance animals and can be killed without limit and not even afforded minimum animal cruelty protections.

The article describes all the horrible methods used by sadists in these backward states to destroy these innocent creatures including but not limited to, strangling them in snares, stomach shooting them to cause the slowest and most painful death, and running them down with snowmobiles. Apparently the latter is a preferred family activity in Wyoming as parents teach their children the joy of chasing down a terrified animal and running over it multiple times until it is finally dead. Personally I think that parents that teach their children this kind of cruelty should be charged with child abuse and their children placed in foster homes. The article is long and difficult to read but is an excellent in depth scientific study complete with names and history and useful resources that I highly recommend everyone read who cares about wildlife and our wilderness heritage.

Lest we continue to devolve into a nation of barbarians I hope kinder and more sane people will vote out the politicians who allow these practices in favor of leaders who understand that these animals are valuable sentient creatures who deserve to be treated humanely just as domestic animals are. In addition to their important function of limiting rodent populations, these animals are precious to many people who just want to have the wilderness experience by viewing them. Please contact your representatives today to demand change. Please help to insure that future generations will be able to experience what I was able to witness today… A beautiful example of God’s creation, running free in the beautiful countryside of our great nation.

As always these images and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art and cool gift items including useful household items, tech gadgets, apparel and more! Give the link a click and explore over a thousand great wilderness images created by #swkrullimaging!