Thursday, February 21, 2008


I Am Curious (Brown)

I decided to drive the 400 miles to Custer State Park in South Dakota this week to snap a few bison and pronghorns. Besides the photo ops I was also motivated by the fact it's 20 degrees warmer in the western part of the state this week than in the east.

Almost everything in the park and many of the businesses in the town of Custer are closed for the season, so there's almost no touristas. That's a good thing. But after the first half hour of driving around I was wondering if all the wildlife also had gone elsewhere for the winter.

I finally found a herd of about 50 bison at the southern end of the Wildlife Loop, and also came across several more similar-sized groups of bison and more pronghorn than I've ever seen, perhaps a hundred, many of them right next to the road. So the first day of shooting turned out to be productive.

Toward sunset I was back with the original bison herd getting shots of them settling down for the evening. I've seen the videos of touristas getting thrown 20 feet in the air by bison, so even though I was 50 yards away I was shooting from the car. I noticed one of the bison was heading directly toward me. It wasn't charging, but it was "striding purposefully." From the size of the horns I think it was a young bull.

I rolled up my window to keep him from poking his head through. But he was headed for my front fender. He pressed his nose up against it for 15 seconds, as if he expected something to happen. Perhaps his mother had resembled a tannish '94 Camry and he was hoping for milk. Anyway, he eventually backed off, looking a bit confused, and wandered back to the herd.

The second photo is a pronghorn scratching its head on some dried weeds. Click on the images for larger versions.

I'll post more photos when I have time.

Dazed and confused


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