Welcome to my blog. The purpose of this blog is to allow a two way conversation with my website viewers. I will be updating the blog to cover my field trips and also post other topics of interest. Please don't hesitate to ask any questions that you might have either through the blog or contact me by E-mail at Treline@aol.com.
Thanks for viewing,
The photograph in this post is of an old settlers cabin in Grand Teton National Park. It was used in the filming of the movie "Shane". The Park service has decided to let it deteriorate which is a shame since its part of the history of the Jackson Hole area. I've often visited the area and thought of all the events and holidays that must have been celebrated here.
We would like to take this time to wish all our viewers a great Thanksgiving and a happy holiday season.
Don & Kathy George
I have been asked on occasion where I photograph wild horses. Three of my favorite areas are in Wyoming and Montana. I choose these areas because of the terrain. There are also areas in Colorado and Nevada but I stick for the most part to Wyoming. The areas I'll be writing about are located in Rock Springs, Cody, and Lovell, Wyoming.
The first of these areas is North of Rock Springs. It is a 24 mile self -guided gravel road that ends in Green river, Wyoming. Its called the Pilot Butte Wild Horse Scenic Tour. Along the way keep a lookout for pronghorn antelope, elk, deer, coyotes ,hawks, eagles and other wildlife. It generally takes about 1.5-2.0 hours to complete. I would make sure that I had a full tank of gas and a good spare tire before you begin. There are roads that off shoot (mostly tire tracks) the main road and I would recommend you have a high clearance vehicle if you decide to take one. Most of the time you will be able to spot the horses from the road. Make sure you have binoculars also for best viewing . Once you get to the end of the road you can take l-80 either East or West or return back over the gravel road to Rock Springs. If you don't want to take the gravel road you can stop at the Rock Springs Wild Horse holding facility just North of Rock Springs and tour the facility which is open year-round. (307) 352-0292)
The next area is close to Lovell, Wyoming in the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation area. This is the home of the Pryor Mountain Mustangs. The area starts in Wyoming and extends into Montana. It is also known for its scenic views and is the home also to a group of Bighorn Sheep. The Bighorn Canyon winds through the area and is very impressive.
The Pryor Mountain Mustangs were verified by DNA analysis to have descended from Colonial Spanish horses brought to the Americas by the Conquistadors in the 1500's. They also have the distinction of being the only mustang herd remaining in Montana. Most of the horses live on East Pryor Mountain, where they are relatively easy to find. The horses living on the range's desert lowlands can be seen along Highway 37 in Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. Its well worth your time to stop in Lovell and visit the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center. They can tell you where the horses have last been seen and share information on the horses. Lovell is about 45-50 minutes North of Cody, Wyoming. We usually stay in Cody and if you haven't visited the Buffalo Bill Historical Center its a must.
The last area is the McCullough Peaks Horse Management Area. This area is managed by the BLM and consist of 109,814 acres of land. To view the wild horses, travel east from Cody on Highway 14-16-20 to mile marker 72 its about 18-20 miles from Cody. On the left you will see a gate and horses are often in this area. I usually have better luck going to mile marker 74 where you will see a kiosk and the Whistle Creek road sign on your left. You can manage some of these roads without 4WD but I would be careful of the offshoots. After a rain or snow I would not attempt to go into these areas. The red clay becomes as slick as ice and the chances of getting stranded are high. A couple of years ago it had rained hard during the night so I decided not to go out. Instead stayed in town and went to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. Later we went into a couple of stores where I overheard a couple talking to the store manager. They were from Iowa and were driving a new Ford 250 4WD truck. They were new to the area had gone out into the Peaks in search of horses that morning. They drove down into a canyon area and got stuck. His wife had a heart condition and they couldn't get out. He had buried the truck up to the doors and tore up a section of the road trying to get out. He said he had to walk out of the canyon to get cell service. He dialed 911 and after explaining his situation the 911 operator said "How stupid was that." He had to get his wife out of the truck and climb to the top of the hill. A cowboy with a truck managed to get in far enough to pick them up. They had a meeting set up with the BLM and were killing time in the store until the meeting. The store manager told me they would be fined for the cost of repairing the road that could end up being in the thousands of dollars. I don't know how or when they ever got his truck out and I'm only telling you this so that you take me seriously about not going in when the roads are wet.
The topography is highly variable, ranging from mostly flat to slightly rolling foothills carved by drainages, to colorful badlands and desert mountains featuring steep slopes, cliffs and canyons. Its a beautiful area and provides some great backdrops for photography. The horses are in very good condition and tend to be moderate-to-large sized. They come in a diversity of coat colors to include bay ,brown, black, sorrel, chestnut, white, buckskin, gray, and palomino. If you don't want to go out on your own there is a person in town who will provide you with a tour. Go to the visitor center and they will give you the information.
There's nothing to compare seeing these wild mustangs running across the sage and hills. It truly gives you a feeling of being in the Wild West. I usually like to visit the areas in Spring when the foals are born or in the Fall. I've included in the post a few pictures of the mustangs and the areas they live in. I hope this answers some of the questions that I have received on photographing these majestic animals. If you need any other information please feel free to contact me.
Spent several days over the past week photographing Elk and Bighorn sheep. The Fall color this year was all over the board. The change was later than usual and the snow storm and wind we are expecting tonight should finish most of the color. However the Elk were out in abundance but I did notice less Harems than I have in the past. It seemed that there were an abundance of bulls and less cows. Not sure how the Park Service has been managing the herd but that is my observation. One morning alone I counted 36 bulls most without cows.
We will be traveling East shortly to visit family and enjoy the Fall color, pumpkin farms, cider, donuts, and great eating at family owned restaurants. I will be including a few Fall images in this post hope you enjoy them.
As Fall approaches Bull Elk start to gather cows together for the breeding season. They then protect the harem from other bulls who try to take cows from their harem. This establishes a peeking order where only the dominant and strongest bulls breed and preserve the blood line. Most of the time the herd bull will run off the smaller bulls but on occasion a bull of the same stature will challenge for the breeding rights. The breeding season occurs in the Fall so the calves will be born in the spring and have a better chance of survival.
Included are a few images of the challenge.
If your going to attempt to photograph river otters you better eat a hearty breakfast. Otters are full of energy and are constantly on the move. I have followed them along rivers and around Beaver ponds and lakes on many occasions. Sometimes I have ended up miles from the car when finished. I must say they live in the fast lane for sure.
I usually set my camera in AV mode and a high ISO speed in order not to blur the images due to their quick movement. When they do come on shore they are usually tumbling around, playing and jumping back into the water. If you catch them in the Spring when they have their pups you have a better chance of photographing them at a slower pace. They will set the pups up on a log or shore and bring fish to them. They are the greatest fisherman and for the most part can catch a fish at will. I have watched them fish out an area and return in a week or so and repeat the same behavior. A female will spend up to eight hours a day fishing to provide for her pups.
Otter bodies are elongated,sinuous, and lithe, built for vigorous swimming. In most species the limbs are short and paws are webbed. The tail is fully haired, thick at the base and tapering to a point, and in some species horizontally flattened. I find it amazing that their numerous stiff whiskers (vibrissae) around the nose and snout, and in tufts on the elbow are very sensitive and are used in locating prey. The ears are small and round and, like the nostrils, are closed under water. Most otters have claws which come in handy especially when searching under stones for crabs. They are protective animals. I have observed them chasing coyotes and becoming quite aggressive. On one occasion I watched them enter a Beaver Pond and take over the beavers lodge. Places that I have seen otters on numerous occasions are around the Oxbow in Grand Teton National Park also the Madison river and Trout lake in Yellowstone National Park.
God has granted me the privilege of being able to spend many years observing his creation. He also blessed me with a wonderful wife who shares my love of nature and the Creator. There are times when we will sit and just meditate on the wonders before us. I would like to share a verse from the book of Isaiah that has been a comfort to us.
I CREATED YOU AND HAVE CARED FOR YOU SINCE BEFORE YOU WERE BORN. I WILL BE YOUR GOD THROUGHOUT YOUR LIFETIME UNTIL YOUR HAIR IS WHITE WITH AGE. I MADE YOU, AND I WILL CARE FOR YOU. I WILL CARRY YOU ALONG, AND SAVE YOU. ISAIAH 46:3
If your interested in bears there is a great live webcam showing Grizzly bears in Alaska fishing for salmon. Google "Brooks Falls live Cam". If your into nature you will enjoy this. Brooks Falls is located in Katmai National Park & Preserve in Alaska. Sockeye Salmon are returning from the ocean to their breeding grounds to spawn. In order to get to their spawning grounds they have to go over Brooks Falls. The bears come into the area each year to feed on the Salmon and fatten up for hibernation.
Also a Cam has been set up to watch the total solar eclipse which will be on August 21, 2017. The cam will show the eclipse live over the Teton range in Wyoming which is one of the premier viewing areas. Go to (seejh.com) click on Grand Teton window and then click on Eclipse Webcam. There are several other live Cams that show Grand Teton National Park and the surrounding area. If you plan on viewing the eclipse please insure that you look up information on the equipment you should be using to protect your eyes. Google solar eclipse and you will find out the best viewing areas and times.
We just returned from a five day trip to Jackson, Wyoming. We had planned to be there for the Elk Fest and Auction. We missed the Elk Antler auction because of weather. Ice and snow had shut down I 80 for two days. We finally got through on Saturday but missed the auction.
The drive to Jackson was beautiful. The sky was covered with white billowing clouds against a deep blue sky and the air was fresh from the recent storm with a scent of sage. As we travelled North from Rock Springs we sighted a sea of white bobbing up and down in the sage brush. We pulled over and much to our delight it was a large group of sheep somewhere around a 1,000 would be my estimate. They were being herded to another pasture by three sheep herders on horse back. Along with them were additional horses, six Border Collies, and three Pyrenees dogs. It was amazing to watch them command the Border Collies by whistling. Each whistle designated a different move. The Great Pyrenees were there to guard the herd from coyote's and other predators they did not assist in directing the movement of the sheep.
Upon arriving home I did some research and found the sheep herders were from Peru. They acquired three year Visas and worked the sheep 365 days a year. They lived in the field in tents and were brought supplies by the Rancher every few months who hired them. One article I read said they were paid between 7-8 thousand dollars a year. They sent this home to their families who used it for their daily living and saved the rest to educate their children. It was a great Photo Opportunity as I was able to follow them for about 30 minutes before they went out of range.
Over the course of the next few days we toured a few galleries, had picnic lunches at some of our favorite viewing spots, attended the annual Chili cook off and shot both scenic and wildlife photography. We were able to locate a few bears this trip which is always a treat. I will be posting images under a separate category called "Teton Spring Trip 2017". If interested go to the Main Menu and click on" All Photographs" then click on Teton Spring trip 2017. As always thanks for viewing my website.
I was going through my slides selecting images for an artist friend in Wyoming. I came upon a selection of images of Bighorn Sheep which I haven't viewed in years. During editing it brought back a lot of memories. Twenty five to thirty years ago on any given day I could drive within 40 minutes and find a group of Bighorns to photograph.
Along Fall River road going into Rocky Mountain National Park a large group of around 135 sheep resided there. I would climb up the mountain side and sit on a rock and would be surrounded by them. They never seemed to mind that I was there and would approach within a close proximity. It was a great time observing there behavioral patterns and learning more about them, the view across the valley was spectacular. They would browse over the slopes and nibble on mountain plants and scan the valley below. At times they would lay down and chew their cuds and fall asleep close by.
One day I'll always remember I was climbing up the mountain side in the Fall during the rut. I was boosting myself up over a large rock outcropping when a ram chasing a ewe came to a skidding halt throwing fragments of rock just three feet or so from my chest We were looking eye to eye before he turned and took off. Wow! you talk about a rush I could feel my heart pounding through my chest.
A sad thing happened in the early 1990's. It was in the winter and I went up to photograph the sheep in snowy conditions. To my amazement several of the sheep were coughing. I contacted a ranger friend and he said it was a sign of pneumonia setting in. The following spring the herd had been reduced from pneumonia deaths from 100+ to around 35-40. This is a reason why Bighorns are caught and relocated from healthy herds and moved to other vacant sheep habitats in Colorado. That way when a disease hits a herd it doesn't wipe out the entire Bighorn population.
Lifespan: Males (Rams) 9-12 years Females (Ewes) 10-14 years
Weight: Males 127-316 Females 75-188 pounds
Length: Males 5-6 feet Females are smaller
Horn size: Males 30" length 15" in circumference Females: Short horns with little curvature.
Average male horn weight 30 lbs.
Mating season: Nov/Dec The males butt heads to establish dominance and mating rights. They clash at about
20 MPH and sound as if a rifle is discharged. Its an amazing thing to witness.
Spring is certainly upon us. It seems as if each season passes quicker. Soon we will be preparing for our annual trip to Grand Teton National Park. Sightings have already been reported of Grizzly bears coming out of hibernation. So far weather conditions seem to indicate it may be a good wildflower season this year.
Included are a few images of Bighorn Sheep. Hope you enjoy them.