It sounds quite cryptic but it's also true, "You don't find Bighorn Sheep in the Wind River Canyon, they find you!" Remembering this doesn't really make it any easier to find these majestic wild animals. Sure I've gone looking for them, and didn't find any. Binoculars, telephoto lenses and many hours, and they simply cannot be found----and then I glance out a window here in the canyon, and there they are----Bighorn Rams! It really is that simple.
Late last week after lunch, one of those glances out a cabin window brought those Rams closer to my computer. On the west side of the Wind River there were two adult Bighorn Rams! No time to waste, get the adrenaline fired up and grab the Canon with the big telephoto lens, and get going!!!
It was warm and sunny and I ran out the front door with the bazooka attached to my favorite camera with the battery-grip; it was going to be a great photo-op with lots of good cardio. I followed a game-trail that the big stags have been matting down, lifting the big-rig above the sagebrush as I made my way down the hill and across the roadway, huffing and puffing and gasping for oxygen along the way.
Two fishermen were just sitting down for lunch as I made my way down to the Wind River, which is quite low at the moment. The grass that grows down by the river is taller than me, literally "high as an elephants eye." But there's a path through this jungle made by who knows what, and every so often an opening above the wide Wind River. I sat down in one of these grassy openings and thus began another incredible time with the Rams of the Wind River Canyon.
The Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis) were huge adult males with a ewe in tow, well fed and fat on the thick, west-side tall green grass; Rams exceed 300 pounds! Bighorn Sheep are the last wild animals to mate in the Wind River Canyon; they haven't even started crashing their heads together yet. Rams are strong, majestic beasts that are curious; as curious as me at times. As they would eat and move I would move down river with them; I knew they could see me. When a wild animal makes eye contact with you and acknowledges your existence, it's a high like no other in the world. You've made a connection with the wild world where free has a different meaning. They aren't tied down to payments, homes and credit cards. Theirs is a kind of freedom we will never quite understand; freedom to survive a Wyoming winter. When the temperature dips to 30 below zero and the wind is howling, they will be just fine.
In my experience here in the Wind River Canyon, Bighorn Sheep are travelers. They go where and when they want, they have no time schedules. You cannot ask a Ram to pose for you, or to turn "that way." You get what they give you, and the real magic happens later, in my computer. It used to be said that, "The real magic happens in the darkroom." And I guess it still does. By the time I made it back to my home, I'd shot over 350 frames! What a fabulously stimulating afternoon I had.
The photograph below is very unusual, as far as Bighorn Sheep pictures go. The Rams were in an area with lots of leaves that had the colors of fall. The Sun was right and the colors just came alive; I couldn't have planned it, or even imagined it. I just love this picture of Bighorn Rams in the Wind River Canyon..... It's a genuine privilege to spend such intimate moments with such fascinating wildlife as Bighorn Sheep Rams in the Wind River Canyon. To be able to capture such amazing moments and to able to share these true nature stories and pictures with you is a real internet honor.
Thank you for reading my Wind River Canyon Blog.
Safely visit my website HogbatsPhotography.com for more photographs of Bighorn Sheep, and hummingbirds, bluebirds, orioles, and all sorts of beautiful wildlife that live in the Wind River Canyon here in wild Wyoming.
All content is written and produced by Michael John Balog and is protected by copyright and all rights are reserved, which doesn't seem to mean much on this side of the galaxy.
"I want people to fall in love with Mother Nature, not wonder what happened to her."