Immediately after my acupuncture appointment last Wednesday I intended to try and photograph a Mountain Bluebird that was in my favorite "secret spot." The sky-blue beauty was there, because I'd spotted him the evening before. And to be honest....this area is the best place to observe the famous Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides) near the Wind River Canyon or the nearby town of Thermopolis that I know of personally.
I've photographed Bluebirds and paintbrush wildflowers at this hidden place for years, with results that speak of the wild nature that lies so close to civilization, yet remains relatively unknown to most people that live in town. It's a quiet place near a lot of summer craziness.
It was a blistering late-morning, and too hot for any self-respecting Bluebird to be chasing bugs around. But not far away was someone I'd heard rumors about lately, a Pronghorn Antelope (Antelocapra americana).
Without any doubt the Wyoming Pronghorn Antelope is the fastest land-animal in North America, and one of the most interesting evolutionary adaptations. Everything about an antelope is designed for speed. From their padded hooves and lightweight skeletal structure, right down to their hollow fur, they are built for speed. Their horns are aerodynamic like a jet; they look and run like a Corvette through the sagebrush. But they are running from an enemy that no longer exists in Wyoming. You see, they are running that fast from a Cheetah! And no, there are no Cheetahs in Wyoming....anymore. Now they run at over fifty miles-an-hour because it is fun to go fast.
A trick I picked up hunting with old-men long ago proved it's worth once again. Antelope are curious by nature, and I know this to be true. You walk at an angle towards your prey, not directly to them. You will get closer to the wild animal without disturbing them; closer for your shot. And this Pronghorn was more nosy than most I've had experience with. He was also in the "Buffalo Pastures" where antelope are seldom seen. It was exhilarating good fun, but was all over too soon. "Any idiot can shoot wildlife with a gun." I've seen it a thousand times in the twenty-odd years I owned a motel in Wyoming, including some very unpleasant ones that still stick in my memories. It's way more satisfying to shoot wild animals with a camera; just educate yourself, and be cautious.
The new antelope photo was shot with my favorite lens, the Canon 70-200mm L f/4 @ 1/800, f/7.1, ISO 200. Software was Canon and Lightroom.
All photographs and experiences written about in the Wind River Canyon Blog are by Michael John Balog: All rights are reserved!
Michael is a resident of the Wind River Canyon for nearly two decades.
*For more wildlife photographs, and especially hummingbird photos, click-on this link to my website....Hogbats Photography.