Powerful, brutal, beautiful, and at times, enchanting, winter in Yellowstone National Park is a world unlike any other. It is a season both abstract and profound, where super-heated water erupts into arctic air, where wildlife pushes snow in a constant struggle to survive, and where silence and solitude dominate the park’s deep wilderness. Photographer Tom Murphy has experienced Yellowstone’s winter wilderness as few others have, skiing far into the backcountry with heavy camera gear, an uncanny ability to weather cold and snow, and an artist’s eye for the sublime. His photographs reveal a majestic land where the air is clean and clear and where a wolf’s throaty howl carries for miles on a still day.
“Silence & Solitude: Yellowstone’s Winter Wilderness” shows us the splendor and force of Yellowstone’s long cold. In 130 photos we begin to understand the lives of the wildlife that must endure it; we begin to feel the inspiring power of a landscape still wild and pure; and we see nature’s beauty in things great and small. These photos are accompanied by Murphy’s thoughtful words that take us into the time and place of each image. The captions allow us to smile at a fox’s serious hunt for a mouse, to understand why bison stand stoically in geothermal steam, and to marvel at a sudden shift of subtle light that brings breathtaking grandeur to a nondescript little tree and just as suddenly takes it away.
As popular author Tim Cahill observes in his foreword, “These are photos that mirror a man’s passion, and I know of nothing like them anywhere. Murphy’s photographs are not simply stunning or striking: they are also knowledgeable and even wise.”
Apparently, the proper thing to do these days when you miss a deer is to quickly cover your head with your hunting hat and reach for your nearby smartphone. Or at least this young Wisconsin hunter thought so.
Can you say buck fever?
nervousness felt by novice hunters when they first sight game.
Not to fret, young deer huntress (yes, this is a young lady here). We’ve all been there, some more than once, whether we will admit it or not.
And to think, in my day you simply froze in complete, unmitigated panic until the animal walked off, and then hung on to the nearest limb with all of your arms and legs and with everything you had for an hour or more.
So you did not fall out of your treestand… As if your life depended on it…Because if you were high enough in the tree, it probably did.
At least that’s what I’ve heard…
“He grouped his last five shots right in the center of the bull’s-eye. Then I showed him my technique of scattering shots randomly around the target because, as I explained, you never know which way the deer might jump just as you pull the trigger.” — Patrick McManus, The Hunting Lesson, February 1983
One That Did Not Get Away
Mark Miller from Mauston, Wisconsin and a deer of a lifetime. I don’t know if he had any buck fever, but there is certainly no ground shrinkage here!
No one truly knows how many elk are killed each year on Colorado highways, but one thing that is known for sure – the trend is rising steadily upward.
It’s a sad statistic, resulting in immeasurable losses to an invaluable resource. And of course, elk versus vehicle collisions are no laughing matter. The encounter can be, and often is, deadly for drivers and passengers.
The fall and winter months are the most dangerous times, when large groups of elk travel great distances though traditional migration corridors, often congregating near food sources in the lower elevations. Unfortunately, most of the major roadways are located here too.
So, you might ask, what’s a driver to do?
Well, to quote an oft-turned phrase – speed kills. Simple as that.
We would all be wise to slow down and enjoy the ride. Be aware, and on the lookout for this otherwise unmissable creature in the shadows of the night.
What do you do when the mosquitoes are thick as thieves and larger and meaner than a pterodactyl on the prowl?
How do you hunt when wearing your headnet merely slows down the number of bugs trying to find a way down your throat?
Well, the answer is easy, my friend.
And the word is “Deet”. Maybe you’ve heard of it.
It’s about the only thing left when all your bug suit does is make you hotter and more miserable than your already are.
Unless, you choose instead to go running madly though the trees, screaming at the top of your lungs in a state of full-bore linear panic (I stole that from the great outdoor writer Patrick McManus by the way).
Effective, for sure, but awfully hard on the ol’ noggin…I wouldn’t recommend it.
It’s Deet alone to save the day, I say – 100%…
Watch your back, though. If you’re not paying attention you may even find an elk trying to get close to you to find some relief for himself.
Disclaimer: I surely did not mean to imply that Deet was an edible product. Ingestion would be hazardous to your health, and may cause certain body parts to melt inappropriately. Be careful what you spray it on too – it’s some mighty powerful stuff!
*To be doubly honest, I also borrowed “The Breakfast of Champions” title from Kurt Vonnegut, after his book by the same name. Hell of a writer there, may he rest in peace. (The work explores the boundaries and meanings of “sanity”, and “mental illness”, which somehow seemed so appropriated in this case).
We usually have a copy in our bookstore stock, as well as many of his other books, if so interested.
Bowhunting for elk brings along its own very special set of joys, and mostly pleasant miseries, and my hunt so far this year has certainly been no exception.
The weather has been hotter than Hell’s own glowing brace of hinges; the lack of moisture unprecedented. Add to that an unusually voracious and seemingly endless raft of pterodactyl-sized mosquitoes that descended from the devil’s own desert, and you can begin to grasp the parameters of this particular flavor of outdoor fun.
Still, my summer scoutings and game camera recordings have been fruitful and very enlightening, and increasingly hopeful. The elk trails had been well-worn, and you might say that I felt that I had their fairly regular patterns pretty well dialed in, at least as well as anyone can when it comes to out guessing an elk.
That was, of course, until opening day of this years Colorado archery season, just a very short time ago.
All tracks and other elk sign evaporated completely about one week before season, leaving me completely dumbfounded and at a loss for words. Still, I had faith, and as many of you know one thing an elk is really good at is covering a lot of territory.
After all, they would be back.
The first few days were elkless, and I returned home for a short, but restless break.
Then, on the night before last, I left the house at a much too early hour and arrived at my hunting area in time to change out my footwear, grab my gear, and gain a comfortable perch in my favorite tree stand. I could barely contain my anticipation as the shadow light of the moon waned and the day transitioned to that magic hour known so well to bowhunter’s everywhere.
Blame it on the blood-sucking horde, my sleep deprived eyes, or my too-heavy-for-an-older-man-pack, but it was then, and only then, that I discovered why I had felt so unsteady and disjointed on the rocky trail.
Looking down, I was more than shocked to find but one boot on my left foot, and silly me, a low topped walking shoe and mismatched sock on the other. No wonder I had felt like I had wanted to make a circle as I stepped along, with one leg shorter than the other, however slightly. I don’t believe I have ever done that before, and if I had, I surely would not admit it now, pride being what it is and all.
Well, thought I, if that was the worst thing to happen this day than I shall howl into the oncoming day, but not just now anyways. Time to get ready for my upcoming 15 yard broadside shot, though the elk packing might prove a little challenging under the circumstances!
I knew from monitoring my game cameras that the elk would show by 8 a.m. or not at all, and my full length bug suit did it’s best to preserve some blood in my body as I waited valiantly on. But, as you may have guessed, it was simply not to be.
So it was back to camp for breakfast and a refreshing jug of iced coffee. Time to shelter up from the relentless sun and live to fight another day. But first, I decided to make a slight detour and check the camera at my other ground blind location.
Truth be told this particular setup was my favorite among the two, and my hunter’s intuition had told me to hunt it this morning. Never doubt the “spidey sense” is my motto, and I do my best to honor whatever premonitions are graced my way.
Unfortunately, the morning wind would not cooperate, blowing steadily from the north instead of from its more usual southerly direction. Facts are facts, and one of the most important of them all is that you will never fool the nose of an elk.
Hence, the tree, for me…
And of course, no doubt you have already guessed it. The elk had already arrived, four or five bulls and a cow for sure, just an hour before – and gone, and I would have had a lovely shot, had I been there, one boot or not.
I knew of this big bull too, and there is a snapshot or two of him in my in my growing photographic collection. He’s a handsome specimen – most obviously big, and heavy on the hoof.
I would surely love to see him again, under slightly different terms and conditions. The season’s young, though I am not, and maybe, just maybe, we shall cross our paths again before the end.
Only the fates can say.
If so, may the arrow fly true and sharp, and the elk and the glory of pursuit live on forever. Yet, for now, what can one do, but lay the head back, and laugh. For after all, I am bowhunter – and I’m used to it.
I will, however, make doubly sure to be fully dressed, …next time.
As a long time used book dealer, I have been privy to a wide variety of personalized gift inscriptions. Most are, well, personal…Others can be educational, thought-provoking, or entertaining.
Some are quite surprising. I thought that you might get a kick out of this fishing autograph by our young fisherman here:
As you can see, Haden had a few other things on his mind too!
I hope that he did manage to catch some fish…
This inscription was found in The Angler’s Book of Daily Inspiration: A Year of Motivation, Revelation, and Instruction by Kevin Nelson.There are lots of wonderful motivational quotes here by some of the world’s finest fisherman.
They are almost as good as young Haden’s aspirations for the day too!
We usually have a used copy or two in stock. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a price quote.
“Fishing lets the child in me come out.” – Mel Krieger