Rams at the River

A beautiful autumn day in Colorado lured me to Waterton Canyon where I hoped that I would have the opportunity to photograph the bighorn sheep rams coming down to the river too cool off and maybe even practice their fighting skills in preparation for the upcoming rut season.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon Autumn

As always in Waterton Canyon, my trusty mountain bike would carry me upstream along the South Platte River to the best sheep viewing locations. As I rode along my eyes scanned the canyon walls for signs of action among the wildlife. I have only seen the bears one time, but I always hope for another sighting! On the way in I did encounter a hawk, but by the time I was ready to shoot he was long gone.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon Autumn

Eventually I reached the upper dam where I have had good luck photographing them coming down the opposite bank. Sure enough, I spotted a big ram making his way out from the shady oasis on the cliff side where they seem to be residing lately. As I watched and waited more and more of their band began to emerge from the darkness of the shade under the pine trees growing right out of the rock. Then suddenly as if  the boss had put the word out, they all rushed down to the side of the river for a drink 🙂

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon Autumn

As they crowded into the lush grass on the embankment, they occasionally would clunk their heads together as they jockeyed for position along the beautiful south bank of the river. I was fortunate to be able to film a couple of the encounters, the collision of horns ringing out like a gunshot through the valley.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon Autumn

The rams remained at water’s edge for about an hour and a half before heading back up the embankment towards their shady spot. I slowly rode back downstream, looking carefully for more sheep and other wildlife that I might encounter. Eventually I spotted a small herd of females and lambs peeking over the cliff on the north side of the canyon so I stopped for a few shots of that action. They eventually came down and joined a larger group that were just lying in the shade on this hot lazy autumn day.

Autumn Colors on the South Platte River

Finally the lighting was just too terrible for photography so headed for home where later in the day I got some nice fall foliage along another part of the South Platte.

For your enjoyment I have also created a nice five minute multimedia video for my YouTube channel, of the rams coming down to the river and occasionally banging heads as they prepare for the upcoming rut season ! Feel free to watch and be sure to subscribe to my channel  if you would like to see more of my adventures! Also feel free to follow my Instagram page where tons more of my images are displayed!

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Lost Sheep

I’ve been pondering a new theory as of late, and after last night it has jelled in my mind and I think it is high time to put it down on the old electronic paper. I call this one the Lost Sheep theory, which could also probably be called the separated sheep theory but lost sounds better.

Ephesians 6:12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

Whether we like it or not, there is a war raging in another dimension, the spiritual dimension. The war is real and it is vicious and sometimes that war spills over into the physical as well. Here in the physical world there are three kinds of people, wolves, sheep and shepherds, the wolves know who they are. I think there are very few shepherds though, and we don’t always even know who we are. Which is why I’m writing this letter to the shepherds and the sheep both. To the shepherds so they will understand their role, and to the sheep so they will know to stay inside the protective circle of their shepherds.

I can’t count the number of times I have gone to work or gone shopping or hiking or on a photo trip that I have received a phone call, “You gotta get back here right away!“, plug in latest crisis… I also can’t count the number of times I have heard, “Every time you leave, all hell breaks loose!”, which is what got me to pondering this whole theory.

In the natural world predators like to look for a weak member of the herd, perhaps even one that has become separated from the rest. They seek an easy prey that they can quickly kill and drag away before the main herd or the shepherd notices. So it is in the spiritual world as well. There is a real enemy in the spiritual realm who is always looking for someone to destroy.

1 Peter: 8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. “

In many cases the sheep are your children, perhaps one might like to play alone or a teen might align with the wrong friends. In this case it also might be the father who is assigned the role of shepherd and if he isn’t vigilant his sheep will become the target for destruction by the enemy. Maybe it will be work, or television, or the internet that distracts the shepherd and allows his sheep to become separated.

In some cases though, certain people have been assigned the role of shepherd, these are pastors, youth leaders and sometimes even coaches and teachers, etc. Occasionally some shepherds are just regular people mingling with friends, neighbors, and co-workers. And these must constantly be watching to see if there is a soul who is being isolated and targeted.

The hard part in those cases is for the shepherds to figure out who they are… that’s how I got started on this idea… the “all hell breaks loose” part of it. I noticed that for certain people in my sphere of influence, if they stay in my sphere there is peace. If they become separated trouble starts. When I come back, the predators slink back into their corners of darkness to wait for a more opportune moment.

I/m sure this has nothing to do with the physical prowess of the shepherd person, but more to do with spiritual prowess and availability. Now of course to walk in that kind of power the shepherds have to be believers who are paying attention and who are not afraid to get in the fight and get a little bloody sometimes. Some may be shepherds, but if they refuse to leave their football games on television, or their video games and chat rooms on the computer or happy hour or whatever, their sheep will be left defenseless.

There have been no greater tests of my theory than what I have seen in the last few days… First came the physical attacks from a loved one on one of my co-workers, then a car wreck and the shock from that. Then last night at work, an almost indescribable nightmare… as certain wolves at work took advantage of a very rough night to close in and try destroy her completely. I saw what was going on and took steps to make sure my sheep wasn’t seen as separated, and the battle went on all night. In the end it appears the forces of good were victorious and she won the admiration of the entire team, save the jealous predators who found themselves on the wrong side of the battle line. In the spiritual realm, the enemy could see that this sheep had a shepherd watching, this sheep was no longer separated and easy prey, that there was a shepherd who was not giving up a sheep without a fight.

Fortunately for all of us, the forces of good are more powerful than the forces of darkness. But the forces of good need to be vigilant and courageous. We can’t become distracted with our own endeavors or allow fear to stop us from speaking up, or to keep us from doing our God given jobs of providing mercy and comfort to the broken hearted. As a side note, keep in mind that the predators are not easily identifiable, they can be important people in the workplace, church and neighborhoods. They can come in the form of religious people as well, self righteous and self seeking individuals who profess the words of the bible, but do not do them.

To the shepherds I say, remain vigilant. The war never ends, the enemy never rests. I just got done with a major spiritual battle earlier in the summer and I prayed… “Lord, let this be the last one, let me rest now.’. But the prayer was sin and I know God didn’t listen to it. So last night I changed my prayer to “Lord don’t ever leave me out of the fight. May You never find me away my battle station when the war in the heavens spills over into my world.”.