The bull on the left seemed rather taken with this particular female. I couldn’t tell if he was in love with her or shaking her down for lunch money. There’s some nice mountains in the background too.
God bless the Tetons.
My plans for this fall’s trip to Wyoming were literally made at the last minute. I had planned to take the week off but wasn’t sure where I wanted to go. It had been a while since I had been to Yellowstone & the Tetons and I was itching to get back, but I was also worn out and not sure I was up to the drive. Then I checked the weather and it was supposed to be unusually sunny and hot, which if you’ve followed along here you know is not my favorite photography weather.
I decided to sleep on it and in the morning made my reservations for Wyoming, starting off in the Tetons and finishing up in Yellowstone, then headed out the door. And it was unusually sunny and hot during the day, despite being cold at night, so I had to deal with 40 or 50 degree temperature changes from when I started hiking in the morning to the heat of the day. While the sunny skies did provide good viewing of the Teton range at sunrise, the park staff had been doing controlled burns and a smoky haze hung around in the valley — not thick enough to be interesting, but enough to ruin the clarity of the pictures. The fall colors seemed to be late in arriving and while some of the aspens had turned, many were still green. And my chronic stomach problems flared up several times on the trip, though fortunately never on the trails despite one close call.
But the worst of it was, I wasn’t seeing much wildlife, and so while I was grateful for the chance to visit this wonderful part of the world, the trip wasn’t ranking very highly compared to some of my other visits. But then on my last night in the Tetons I discovered this male pronghorn in the evening light and things started looking up. The next morning I found the bison herd and my mood got even better.
Yellowstone was hit or miss the first few days too, but the last day turned out to be one of my favorite days in the park, ever.
A long way of saying, I’m glad I went.
Play gets a little more serious when calves grow into bulls. These two bulls were much more aggressive than the little calves I had watched at play, but it’s all relative — the old bull laying in the wallow in front of them paid them no heed. They’re all kids to him I suppose.
When you first enter the parks, rangers hand out flyers warning you to steer clear of bison, as they can turn from passive to aggressive rather quickly. I used to think that no one would really need to be told to steer clear of something this large and this horned, but sadly this is not the case. There was a small group of us watching the herd and one of the men got down into the river bed and walked right up to a calf to photograph it. He came back up onto the bank when his wife suggested it wasn’t a good idea to get between the calf and its mother. Fortunately for him it was just cows and calves in the river bed at that point, the herd got a little more testy when the bulls crossed over.
Bison calves frequently play together in ways that mimic the ways of adults, such as head-butting or one climbing onto the other. Not only was the calf on the left not as into playing as the one on the right, but it was substantially smaller to boot. Not to worry, they were playing under the watchful eye of one of the cows.
An attempt to combine the tight portraits of the face from the previous pictures, but also show the varying shades of brown in this bull’s fur. It’s a touch too tight in my opinion but not only did I not have time to take the teleconverter off the big lens, but it was extremely dusty and not the best place to be exposing the innards of the camera.
This is why I think the built-in teleconverter in Canon’s announced 200-400mm lens is so brilliant. Oh what a joy it would be if my 500mm had one! It would solve one of the biggest and most frustrating challenges I face, regardless of whether I’m in the Tetons or Ridgefield.