Pronghorns are scattered across Yellowstone. They range from the lower grasslands through to high valley meadows. It was a cold morning so I was not surprised this fellow wanted to shake off the cold. When the droplets flew from his position a little higher than me, the effect looked more like there had been an explosion. I thought it was a good start to our respective days.
I watched him approach from Soda Butte Creek at the northeast end of the Lamar Valley. He looked like he had just crossed it but maybe that was just from the rain at daybreak. Shortly after spinning off the water, the sun came out, apparently to help dry his coat. The wet sagebrush began to steam as soon as the sunlight hit it, creating a haze around the Pronghorn.
He passed within 30 yards of me and then crossed the road on his way up the base of Druid Peak’s southern flank.
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I went to Medicine Hat near Alberta’s eastern border with Saskatchewan on the weekend. I enjoy heading out onto the prairies for the photographic opportunities that present themselves. I can happily spend hours exploring the old buildings, farm vehicles and rural towns that cluster near the roads and the rails that criss-cross the land. For wildlife, I often spend time with hawks near watering holes or small stands of trees. On Sunday morning, I was returning from Red Rock Coulee and found a curious Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) near the highway. It was early and I was likely the only person in the area since nightfall the day before and this animal was interested rather than wary.
I often see herds of these antelope but they are either far away or bounding in that direction. This was easily the closest I had been to one and with a 300mm telephoto lens, I was able to resolve him really well. The encounter lasted for a few minutes where it would take a few leaps, then stop and look at me. At that point, I would move along the road a pull level before shooting again. We did this a couple of times before he retreated a hundred meters further back and I carried on.
Driving a few more kilometers I found a small herd of Pronghorns well back from the road that was alternating between grazing and short races across the fields in fast bursts.
I pulled ahead and then stopped to watch them pass.
This one left the herd and sprinted ahead so I isolated him against the open prairie. It was great to have these two different experiences so close together. Different chapters of the same story.