Wild Winter Solstice

Herd of Mule Deer

It was a wild morning on this 2020 winter solstice! I was much relieved to see the Three Amigos again, I haven’t seen them for months and was afraid a hunter had gotten them. Actually I am thinking of calling them the Fab Four since they have been roaming with another buddy since the fall, the fourth member was already at the tree line when I took this shot. Of course I know the Fab Four is also the name for the Beatles, but if you ask me the musicians don’t hold a candle to these big boys! They didn’t stick around long though, soon after they spotted me they began meandering toward the dense woods on the north and west side of the mountain.

Herd of Mule Deer

As my trek veered toward the north I spotted the rest of the herd making their way west as well, enjoying some mountain grass along the way. It looked to me like I would get some really nice shots in good light if I used some patience and waited for them to pass, so I took a seat on a big rock and waited. They were actually moving along pretty steadily so it wasn’t long before I began to get some good opportunities. However I noticed that they started nervously looking back and moving a little faster. I was pretty sure I wasn’t disturbing them as I peered into the distance to see what might be coming out of the trees over the hill, a coyote perhaps? Soon the disturbance came into view… my nemesis with the two dogs was coming up the trail behind me, and soon the deer were galloping

Herd of Mule Deer

toward the safety of the trees to the north. I did my best to capture the herd running, but I wasn’t exactly prepared for such an event. The original plan was to leisurely shoot them grazing in the grass at a relatively slow shutter speed and correspondingly low ISO value. I scrambled to reset the camera and fired a few frames off over a few seconds and then they were gone. I tell you, this guy is ruining my life, every day chasing away my livelihood 😦 I hope he moves on soon… or maybe this is a sign that it’s time for me to move on, perhaps closer to Rocky Mountain National Park, or maybe even Montana.

Such a brief encounter wasn’t enough to satisfy my wildlife fix today so I decided to drive on up to Eleven Mile Canyon in hopes of spotting some eagles or maybe some more deer or even a herd of elk! The initial drive up the canyon yielded exactly nothing, except that I did see the eagle lady driving back down the canyon… peering intently into the trees along the river. At the top I just turned around and headed back down hoping for a more fruitful pass through the canyon on the return trip. On my way down I spotted the eagle lady headed back up, I guess I should find out her name…

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

Eventually my journey came to an end and I had nothing to show for it. I pondered the eagle lady’s strategy and began to wonder if I should make a second trip? What the heck, I had already paid the fee and I wouldn’t be coming back for a while so I turned big blue back around and began a second pass through the beautiful wilderness along the headwaters of the South Platte. Soon I came upon the eagle lady out of her car with camera in hand, so I pulled up behind her and got out to see what the excitement was. Sure enough she had spotted a baldy in a pine tree looking intently at a section of open water, for fish I presume!

Red Tailed Hawk in Eleven Mile CanyonEventually he flew off in the opposite direction and I continued my drive up the canyon. No more eagle sightings but I did find a nice red-tailed hawk, also fishing along the river. He didn’t stay perched for long and I managed to get a nice shot of him in flight before he drifted away, well out of range for pictures.

I hoped for more on the way down but I was satisfied with the days good fortune and just enjoyed the scenery and the solitude the rest of the way down.

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!

Red Tailed Hawk in Eleven Mile Canyon

El Quattro

Herd of Mule Deer Bucks

El Quattro, my son Chris’s idea… when a new buck joined the “Three Amigos” band of buck mule deer.Β  Not sure, I’m just calling them the “Three Amigos + 1”. I was near the end of my hike this morning and it was looking like they were nowhere to be found. But as I was walking down the mountainside rolling around ideas to avoid a photographic shutout, I looked across to the next ridge and spotted a lone buck. he was looking right at me so I quick snapped a picture.

Herd of Mule Deer Bucks

Soon however others began meandering up the steep hill so I just found a place to sit and watch to see how this scene was going to develop. Two of the band of four drew closer together and I was able to capture a couple images of the friendship before they wandered over the hill and down into the valley.

I decided to go around the ravine and see if I could spot them on the downside but I could only find one of the majestic fellow. He was posing against a very nice rugged backdrop though, nicely rounding out my morning! Any thoughts of a long drive to another location vanished as I looked through what I had already captured. Instead of continuing on I decided upon a nice breakfast and home to process the images!

Herd of Mule Deer Bucks

Yesterday I was looking for an image of the Three Amigos on my website to send to someone and decided that it was time to add a collection with just deer. I have a specialized collection for Deer in Snow but I think it’s now aΒ  good time for the Just Deer collection to contain my huge collection of deer imagery including those in snow and all seasons including some beautiful autumn captures πŸ™‚

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!

A Perfect Morning

Morning Mule Deer

I know we like our sunshine here in Colorado but sometimes some clouds and humidity are a welcome sight, especially for a photographer! It was a perfect morning, a slight breeze, cool and quiet, and rain clouds overhead providing just enough cover to soften the morning light for photography πŸ™‚

Finch on a Perch

It wasn’t long before I spotted a pair of mule deer, buck and doe enjoying a break from the usual intense sunlight. Usually by this time of morning they would have retreated to shady areas under the tall pines of the Pike National Forest. Today however, the wary couple gave me a few minutes to photograph them before vanishing into the dense wilderness.

I continued my hike along the high meadow at the top of the mountain enjoying the sound of birds happily chirping out their approval of such a pleasant morning. I stopped and sat for a while on a flat rock hoping for an opportunity to capture a couple images of the furtive little creatures and fortunately they obliged πŸ™‚ Not the best pictures, but I did manage to get a couple shots of what appear to be a couple of the finch variety.

Clouds on the Sangre de Cristo

Sunrise Stag Club

Sunrise Stag Club

Encountered a small herd of bucks this morning who were gracious enough to pose for me πŸ™‚ My first shots were not the best as the deer were backlit at best and standing at shade at worst with the bright blue Colorado sky in the background. So I snapped a few hoping that they might be salvageable before passing by so that I could quietly circle around the mountain and shoot with the advantage of some sunlight on their faces.

When I came around the mountain I wound up a slightly different place so I had to do a little searching which scared off one of the big guys despite my best efforts to be stealthy. I wasn’t too happy to have made one of them run, but I looked around to see if I could find the rest of the herd. Much to my surprise I was

Sunrise Stag Club

standing almost face to face with the other two! I stood motionless so as not to scare them and to see if I could read their intentions.Β  They seemed relatively unconcerned about the photographer that they see so regularly so I quietly put down my trekking pole and raised my camera to my eye.

I did manage to get off a more shots before the handsome fellows began to get nervous. Eventually they walked off in the direction of their other buddy and I just called it a day and wandered down the mountain.

I put the best portraits of the bucks on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting. Cool gift items and apparel are also available with my artwork!

Sunrise Stag Club

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™‚