Tag Archives: Wildlife Photography

Bringing The Outside In

How I Photograph Wildlife and Nature by Leonard Lee Rue III. America's Most Published Photographer Naturalist Shares The Secrets That Lead To Superior Photographs

Mule Deer Under Mother Mountain

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A Mule Deer Buck Stands Under Mount Sopris, Located In The Elk Mountains Range In The Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Near Carbondale, Colorado
Mule Deer In The Heart Of The Mother. Photograph By David Massender

 

The Ute Indians called her “Mother Mountain”, because of her twin summits; the Roaring Fork Valley’s early settlers knew it as “Wemagooah Kazuhchich,” or “Ancient Mountain Heart Sits There.”

No matter what name you use, Mount Sopris, located in the Elk Mountains Range near Carbondale, Colorado provides one of the prettiest vistas in the rocky mountains.

Without a doubt, her heart beats strong. The Mule Deer feel it too.

And maybe it’s just me, but it’s even prettier when Mule Deer are standing below, and upon it.

Just saying…

And I can’t think of a more spectacular place to hunt! I plan on doing just that, very soon.

Good Hunting…

Posted By Michael Patrick McCarty

Photographs Courtesy Of David Massender

 

A Small Group Of Mule Deer Enjoy The Fall Colors Under Mount Sopris (Mother Mountain), Located In Pitkin County Near Carbondale, Colorado
Living Is Easy Before The Snow Flies. Photograph By David Massender

 

You Can Read More About Mount Sopris Here

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A Partying Party Of Pronghorns

August 2018

 

Pronghorn can provide an almost endless parade of entertainment for the perpetual watcher of wildlife, and I am always a most captive audience.

The most common sighting of an antelope for most people is that of an animal running away at an almost unbelievable speed, or perhaps just a view of their ears and head as they watch you from a long, long distance, before turning to leave.

Setting up in a blind near a water hole is a sure way to gain some close encounters of an animal not so easily observed. With luck you’ve already put in some blind time yourself, and if not, I hope that you will get to do so soon. You will not be disappointed.

With that in mind, here are just a few images from my August bowhunting adventure in Northern Colorado.

And yes, I did get my buck…but that, is another story!

 

A Pronghorn Antelope Doe Stares Head On At Close Range. Photograph by Michael Patrick McCarty, Taken On a Bowhunting Trip In The Red Desert In Northern Colorado
Ready To Shake Hands

 

Several Doe Pronghorn Antelope Watch The Horizon For Possible Danger In The Red Desert of Northwestern Colorado. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty
Where The Antelope And The Antelope Roam…
A Pronghorn Antelope Buck Leads The Way to Water For Two Young Ones On The Red Desert Of Northern Colorado. Photograph by Michael McCarty
Follow The Leader

 

Two Pronghorn Antelope Bucks Running Towards A Waterhole In The Red Desert of Northern Colorado. Photograph By Michael McCarty
Heading For Water

 

A Doe And Fawn Pronghorn Antelope Visit A Waterhole For An Early Morning Drink In The Red Desert of Colorado. Photograph By Michael McCarty
There’s Nothing Better Than A Cool, Early Morning Drink!

 

The Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) One of The West's Most Iconic Animals. Photography by Michael Patrick McCarty
Poetry, And Perpetual Speed, When Needed

 

Two Doe Pronghorn Antelope Stand At Alert, On The Red Desert of Northern Colorado. Photography by Michael Patrick McCarty, While Hunting Near Baggs, Wyoming.
I’ve Got Your Back!

 

A Doe Pronghorn Antelope Nurses A Fawn In The Red Desert Of Northern Colorado. Photograph By Michael McCarty
Bring On The Milk

 

A Waterhole On The Red Desert Of Northern Colorado, Surrounded By Sagebrush And Alfalfa. Home Sweet Home, And A Main WAter Source For Pronghorn Antelope, Mule Deer, and Age Grouse. Photograph by Michael McCArty
The Best Of All Worlds – A Spring-Fed Desert Waterhole Surrounded By Sage And Alfalfa

 

The Distinctive Tracks Of Pronghorn Antelope, Found In The Soft Sand At A Waterhole In The Red Desert Of Colorado. Photograph By Michael McCarty
Evidence Of What Was Here, And What May Come

 

A Young Mule Deer Buck And A Doe Pronghorn Antelope Share A Comfortable Summer Evening In The Red Desert Of Northern Colorado. Photograph by Michael McCarty
Mule Deer Like To Party Too!

 

Sage Grouse and Pronghorn Antelope Together On An Early Summer Morning On The Red Desert Of Northern Colorado. Photography by Michael Patrick McCarty
Sage Grouse Like To Have Fun With The Gang

 

A Pronghorn Antelope Buck In The Red Desert of Northern Colorado. Photograph By Michael Patrick MCarty
Eyes of An Eagle; Heart Of A Lion

 

By Michael Patrick McCarty

“The essence of being a really good hunter is, paradoxically, to love the particular species of game you’re after and have enormous respect and consideration for it”.

Hugh Fosburgh, One Man’s Pleasure, 1960

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A Perfect Pair Of Mule Deer Bookends

August 2018

A fine pair of Mule Deer bookends, taken near my ground blind while on a bowhunt for Pronghorn Antelope in Northern Colorado.

 

Two Mule Deer Bucks Seem To Mirror Each Other On The Red Desert Of Colorado. Photograph By Michael McCarty
A Pair To Draw To…!

“From that day on I have been a lover of mule deer…They were my first love and still remain my strongest…Somehow he sight of an old mule deer buck, head high, antlers lying along his broad back, returns me definitely to my childhood and the day I first felt the mystery of wild game and wild country”.

Jack O’Connor, Game in the Desert, Revisited, 1977

Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty

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The Ghost Spike Of The Night

Browning Strike Force Pro XD 24mp Dual Lens Trail/Game Camera with 16GB SD Card and Focus USB Reader (Misc.)


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A Spike Bull Elk, Caught in The Flash Of A Game Trail Camera In Western Colorado. Photograph By Michael McCarty
A Flash In The Darkness

 

September 2018

Lots of things happen after the sun goes down, often when you have just sat for hours in a hot and dusty blind without hide nor hair of a beast with horns.

Still, there is hope in the air, all around. The elk are close, somewhere, just out of sight, but obtainable.

With luck, you may catch them soon, early in the morning, or late in the day, with enough shooting light left to seal the deal.

I hope to see you again, soon, brother elk – and don’t forget to bring along your grandfather.

Can’t wait to meet him…

Good Hunting!

By Michael Patrick McCarty

Coyotes, Mountain Lions, and Bears, Oh My!

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“Adoration is as alien to wild nature as blasphemy. Nature transcends love, goodness, malevolence or evil. It is simply a primordial force – shining, aloof and brooding, a vast sweep of power too awful to be imbued with human emotions, virtues or mischiefs. It is presumptuous to adore nature as it is to kick a redwood”.

John Madson, Stories From Under the Sky, 1998.

 

A closeup photograph of the eyes of a mountain lion
Things That Go Bump in the Night

 

August, 2012

Many of our followers are aware that I have done a lot of security work over the years, and I still do. I’ve spent many sleepless nights on one type of patrol or another, and I’ve learned to notice many things that most people miss in the world all around them.

Last night I missed a chance to see a big mountain lion moving just a short distance from my solitary post. It was reported to me by an excited and breathless observer, who apparently had some trouble believing his own eyes. He just had to tell somebody, and I’m glad it was me.

The sighting took place on the black top and concrete of a two-track bridge over a cold, clear river in western Colorado, not far from the unfenced yards of several exclusive homes and the manicured grounds of a large country club and golf course. It seemed an unlikely spot to find such a magnificent predator, or so he thought. For his part, the tawny beast was no doubt chagrined to find himself caught in such an exposed and vulnerable position.

The lion enjoys good company as he hunts. Coyote, the all-seeing trickster grows more bold and opportunistic with each passing year, having learned long ago to take advantage of the nonchalance of the family pet. He may have learned it from the big cat. Likewise, encounters with black bears are increasing, as are people and bear conflicts. As a result we receive many complaints about coyotes and bears on the property that I roam, and it looks like it may become particularly bad in this time of terrible drought.

After all, we are surrounded by the rocky mountain west, with national forest and other undeveloped lands close at hand. Still, a mountain lion report is big and electrifying news which will surely surge throughout the small community by morning. This creature rules by stealth, and it is no surprise that most people have never seen one outside of a zoo or animal park.

I have been quite fortunate to study them several times in my adventures and wilderness travels. I’ve spied them without them seeing me, and I’ve noted their reaction when they realize they haven’t seen me first. I’ve hunted them several times, and have found myself standing with the bawling hounds under the killing tree, with an angry and snarling cougar above. I’ve followed their distinctive paw prints over hill and dale, and on more than one occasion found their tracks following me. I love to watch them under any circumstance, and to see them do their thing for any amount of time is an awe-inspiring experience that marks an indelible impression. I can see a stalking cat right now, in my mind.

What I don’t like is this long-tailed ghost watching me, particularly when I don’t know it. I have absolutely no doubt that it’s happened, countless times, at close range and but a primordial fang away. I’d take a bet that it’s happened to you too, if you have spent any significant amount of time in puma country. Fates can change quickly, as the tip of a cat’s tail twitches, measuring what to do. But of course, we will never really know, and it only adds to the mystery and magic of it all.

 

A trail sign describing what to do when confronted by a mountain lion
Follow The Signs

 

I would have explained this to my wide-eyed mountain lion man, if I could have gotten a word in edgewise. There are some noteworthy visitors out there in the black night, just out of reach of headlight beams or human consciousness.

Think about that the next time you enjoy a hike on a shadowy mountain trail in a quaking aspen grove, and the hair on the back of your neck stands up for some unknown reason. You may wish to honor that sense. It’s there for a purpose.

Keep it in the back of your mind the next time you go out at night to check on your chickens or other animals in your backyard or back forty. Catch a breath, and take a second to wonder about what just made a nearly silent footfall, behind or above.

The possibility of a lion nearby reminds us of the wilds at the edges, and grounds us in the realities of the natural world. It’s an unsettling thought for some, and one that many of us have to live with when we spend time in the places that we love. Still, I would rather live where I live knowing that a mountain lion lives here too, rather than in a place known to have no mountain lions, and wishing that it did.

It’s a reality I am happy to accept, in the hope of but a quick glimpse, in the corner of an eye.

Posted by Michael Patrick McCarty

a nighttime trail camera photograph of a mountain lion
Things That Go Bump In The Night

 

*Update August 27, 2013

There is not a week goes by that someone does not ask if we have had any puma reports, and I must say, I’m a bit anxious myself. The leaves in the high county are beginning to turn color already, far too early it would seem, and it won’t be long before the early snows are as high as an elk’s belly and the mule deer are headed for the lower valleys along the river. The big cats are sure to follow, and it is then that there is a fair chance to record them on a well placed trail camera. We hope that the hunting is good this season, for us, and for mountain lions everywhere.

You can see a short video of our night-time visitor here.

 

 

Update: October 17, 2012

Game trail cameras are an invaluable tool for those wishing to document the comings and goings of our wild neighbors, particularly in those magic hours between dusk and dawn. Strategically placed, they can capture a delightful display of animal movements not otherwise observed. It’s great entertainment, with the promise of true surprise within easy reach. My anticipation of the next photo or the next video can barely be contained. You never really know what you’re gonna get…

We use several cameras scattered about the property, which we move on a regular basis. Our main interest lies in the activities of the creatures with two legs. We watch for trespass, intrusion, and foul play. That, of course, is a story for another time. Animal sightings are the bonus feature to the main event.

Today’s review of the image collection was no exception. They held the usual cast of characters. Marmots, foxes, and inquisitive raccoons. Wandering pets, and the occasional biker. One frame held the faint outline of a bear in the shadows, and another the up close face of a young mule deer.

And as you may have guessed by now, one camera captured a video segment of a mature lion on the prowl. At first there was nothing but the wide emptiness of the night, then the world lit up as the beams of infrared caught the ghostly figure like the flashes from an electronic campfire.

He was big and long and solidly built, with well-defined muscles that rippled on his bones as he padded easily back to who knows where. No doubt he had used this route before.

A house loomed large here too, just out of camera range. I know, because I set the camera there myself.

My reaction was sharp, and visceral. It’s one thing to hear someone else talk excitedly about their sighting and personal experience. You want to believe, yet, there’s always a little room for doubt in undocumented reports. It’s quite another matter when you actually see a lion for yourself, or have indisputable evidence in hand.

Real is real, and but a moment away from memory. It is undefinable proof of the untamed mystery of our realm, accessible to all just inches from the comforts of our daily routines.

I shall do my best to stay out of the big cat’s path and unseen wanderings, yearning, for his eventual return.

Hunt well, my friend.

Michael Patrick McCarty

Food Freedom, and Guns Too!

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Comments? Tell us about your Mountain Lion experience.

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A Mountain Goat Morning of Incomparable Beauty

A Mountain Goat comes to say hello on a fine summer morning, somewhere in the Madison Range of Southwestern Montana.

 

A Rocky Mountain Goat Grazes Peacefully On A Steep, Rocky slope, Somewhere in The Madison Range Of Southwestern Montana. Posted by Michael Patrick McCarty
Home Is Where The Mountains Are

 

A Rocky Mountain Goat, Climbing Down A Steep Rock Face To Reach His Bedding Place. Photograph Taken In The Madison Range of Southwestern Montana. Posted by Michael Patrick McCarty
Wandering Down To A Most Comfortable Bed!

 

A Rocky Mountain Goat Looks Back At The Photographer, While Out On A Morning Mountain Stroll Somewhere In The Madison Range in Southwestern Montana
Catch Me If You Can

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“You’ll know you’re in goat country when it takes both arms and both legs to climb and you can spit down on sheep”.

Patrick Stephens, “A Rocky Mountain High”, Game country, 1990 

An Elk of Snow, and Spirit

A photograph of a larger than life-sized bronze sculpture or a trophy bull elk, taken in a winter snow storm near Carbondale, Colorado
Into The Storm. Photograph by Michael Patrick McCarty

A larger than life sized bronze sculpture of a bull elk, found near Carbondale, Colorado.

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Active Member Outdoor Writers Association of America

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The Bighorns of The Frying Pan River

Wildlife Photographer Frank Donofrio of Glenwood Springs, Colorado caught this band of Bighorn Sheep on an island in the middle of The Frying Pan River above Basalt.

Enjoy!

 

A Bighorn Sheep Ram Crosses the Frying Pan River near Basalt, Colorado in Bighorn Sheep Unit S44
Heading For the High Country. Photo by Frank Donofrio
Photograph of a small band of bighorn sheep about to enter the Frying Pan River outside of Basalt Colorado in Bighorn Sheep Hunting Unit S44
Come On In. The Water’s Fine. Photograph by Frank Donofrio
Bighorn Sheep near Basalt, Prepare to enter the Frying Pan River in Colorado's Unit S44
MY, My That Water’s Cold! Photograph by Frank Donofrio
A Bighorn Ram crosses the Frying Pan River in northwestern Colorado in Bighorn sheep Unit S44
Just Another Day on The Frying Pan River. Photograph by Frank Donofrio
a female Bighorn sheep crosses the Frying Pan River not far from Aspen, colorado in bighorn sheep hunting unit S44
Almost There! Photograph by Frank Donofrio
A Bighorn Ram prepares to jump in the Frying Pan River near Glewnwood Springs, colorado in Unit S44
Heading In! Photograph by Frank Donofrio
A close up photo of a Male Bighorn Sheep on the Frying Pan River near Carbondale Colorado in Bighorn Sheep Unit S44
There’s Some Good Rams in Unit S44. Photograph by Frank Donofrio
  • In the past, some limited resident and nonresident licenses for archery and rifle hunting have been available by lottery in Bighorn Sheep Unit S44 of Colorado.

Posted by Michael Patrick McCarty

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