Montana Outdoors

December 27, 2012

From October, 2009

Yesterday when reviewing a file of photos of an area in which I plan to do some backpacking next summer I ran across this photo that I had not posted before, and it’s one of several that I really like. I stalked this big guy for about a hundred and fifty yards on my belly through tall grass until I got close enough for this thirty-yard shot and then to realize that he had long been aware of my rather clumsy approach, and was just plain not afraid of me.

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep photographed at the end of Sundance Ridge

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51 Comments »

  1. Yowsa! What a looker he is! I’d be kinda scared of him, but what an experience to see! =)

    Comment by Tricia — December 27, 2012 @ 10:38 pm

    • I have seen many hundreds of bighorns but every time it is a big thrill, especially when I can get fairly close as in this case.

      Comment by montucky — December 27, 2012 @ 11:29 pm

  2. Thanks for digging that one out for us.

    Comment by jomegat — December 27, 2012 @ 10:49 pm

    • I plan to spend several days on his turf once most of the snow has melted in that area, probably mid July. He lives in one of my favorite places.

      Comment by montucky — December 27, 2012 @ 11:30 pm

  3. He’s so sharp in the photo and the background is fuzzy, so we focus on him. The center of attention. Very nice sharp shot. Camera shot, I mean. Beautiful animal.

    Comment by wordsfromanneli — December 27, 2012 @ 10:51 pm

    • The center of attention is what he should be! A big ram like that just commands attention and respect. I always feel better just knowing that animals like that are still out there.

      Comment by montucky — December 27, 2012 @ 11:32 pm

      • You’re so lucky to have seen him and to get close enough for a photo like that is fantastic.

        Comment by wordsfromanneli — December 28, 2012 @ 12:26 pm

        • I think I have a special relationship to these sheep. I can usually approach quite close to them without causing alarm. Perhaps they sense how I feel about them.

          Comment by montucky — December 28, 2012 @ 8:58 pm

          • Maybe they’re getting used to you. That’s why this one stood so still and let you snap his picture.

            Comment by wordsfromanneli — December 28, 2012 @ 11:44 pm

            • I’m quite sure these two had never seen me before and I don’t think they are part of a large group that hangs out about 15 miles from where they were.. There are different bands of sheep here spread along 50 miles east to west. I am going to spend a few days in the middle part of Sundance Ridge in the roadless area next summer and it will be interesting to see if any sheep are living up there. It’s a rather strenuous hike to get up there, from about 2600 feet at the trail head to just over 7000 feet five miles up the trail.

              Comment by montucky — December 29, 2012 @ 12:16 am

              • And where do you spend the nights? Grizzly country?

                Comment by wordsfromanneli — December 29, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

                • Possible Grizzly country but not too likely. Lots of Black Bears though. Nights? There are lots of nice places to put a backpack tent along the trail. I prefer under a big old tall pine where the needles are 6 inches deep. Feels like a feather bed! On windy nights, just on the lee side of a sharp ridge or rock outcrop out of the wind.

                  Comment by montucky — December 29, 2012 @ 8:28 pm

                • Sounds good, but I’d still be lying there bug-eyed all night with my ears stretched out like trumpets, listening for every twig that cracks. I’m only good for daytime in the woods.

                  Comment by wordsfromanneli — December 29, 2012 @ 10:08 pm

  4. Sometimes it gives pleasant surprises to see old files. So it is in Your casa, because Your photo is stunning from this wonderfult animal!

    Comment by Sartenada — December 28, 2012 @ 12:30 am

    • I do review some of the old photos of a special place that I have visited. I hope to add several very special places to the files this year.

      Comment by montucky — December 28, 2012 @ 8:59 pm

  5. Wow, how cool for you. Both to see such available beauty and being able to plan further hikes. Happy sigh. . .

    Comment by Homestead Ramblings — December 28, 2012 @ 7:42 am

    • Planning is very necessary and a big part of the enjoyment. There is much to choose from here.

      Comment by montucky — December 28, 2012 @ 9:01 pm

  6. WOW! Great shot! Have a happy New Year!

    Comment by roberta — December 28, 2012 @ 8:18 am

    • Thanks Roberta. Happy New Year to you too!

      Comment by montucky — December 28, 2012 @ 9:01 pm

  7. Kinda looks like he’s saying “Wonder what that guy is up to over there. I’d better keep an eye on him”. I always find it interesting how much better animals are at being aware of their surroundings. A skill humans have surpressed.

    Comment by anniespickns — December 28, 2012 @ 9:08 am

    • Their lives always depend on being aware, and sometimes ours do too. It’s part of enjoying the outdoors. Bighorns have unusual attitudes in that they are often unafraid, as though they know that they could butt me off the mountain if they chose and therefore don’t worry about my presence.

      Comment by montucky — December 28, 2012 @ 9:04 pm

  8. Fantastic! I love stalking wildlife (for photos). It appeals to the primitive human part of me. And getting a great photo out of the experience is so rewarding. Well done.

    Comment by Sue — December 28, 2012 @ 9:52 am

    • I enjoy seeing wildlife too. Each species has certain characteristics, but each individual is also unique.

      Comment by montucky — December 28, 2012 @ 9:07 pm

  9. Superb capture of a beautiful creature.

    Comment by Debby — December 28, 2012 @ 10:16 am

    • That really is a beautiful creature. He weighs about 300 lbs and is just awesome seen up close in his own territory.

      Comment by montucky — December 28, 2012 @ 9:08 pm

  10. Wonderful capture, Terry! I would’ve loved to see that.

    Comment by allbymyself09 — December 28, 2012 @ 11:57 am

    • I know you would Barbara. That pair of rams tolerated me for a long time and I left them before they began to get restless. It was a wonderful experience.

      Comment by montucky — December 28, 2012 @ 9:10 pm

  11. You never know who will cross your trail! Excellent portrait of a mighty ungulate! Happy New Year!

    Comment by twoscamps — December 28, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

    • Isn’t that great, though! Who knows who or when! Happy New Year to you and Eric, Maureen!

      Comment by montucky — December 28, 2012 @ 9:11 pm

  12. Looks like he had been waiting for you… what a superb animal and great shot !

    Comment by isathreadsoflife — December 28, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

    • I’m sure he had known of my presence for some time and waited to see who I was. He then seemed satisfied. They are awesome animals.

      Comment by montucky — December 28, 2012 @ 9:12 pm

  13. Absolutely magnificent!! What a wonderful shot….

    Comment by FeyGirl — December 28, 2012 @ 9:29 pm

    • Yes, isn’t he magnificent! It was a great opportunity!

      Comment by montucky — December 28, 2012 @ 11:07 pm

  14. Haha, that’s pretty funny. He certainly is solid and majestic.

    Comment by Candace — December 28, 2012 @ 10:08 pm

    • Solid it right: that’s a lot of animal. Once I had the privilege to watch a head butt contest and they are amazing!

      Comment by montucky — December 28, 2012 @ 11:09 pm

  15. What a great picture! i wonder if they would head butt you if you got too close?

    Comment by New Hampshire Gardener — December 29, 2012 @ 6:40 am

    • If you were close enough to be a real threat I’m sure they would. They are big and tough and have lots of confidence.

      Comment by montucky — December 29, 2012 @ 8:24 pm

  16. His coat is amazing. It almost looks like suede. It seems very tight, and not very thick. It must do well at keeping him warm, though – like the elk, deer and such. I admire your ability to track and find these animals, but I admire even more your ability to leave before making them restless. That’s the hard part!

    Comment by shoreacres — December 29, 2012 @ 9:38 am

    • That’s his winter coat coming in. It really is thick and warm. They have no problem with the cold!

      When you spend a lot of time wandering around through the back country, you will encounter animals. I seldom go out specifically to find them unless of course it’s hunting season for deer and elk. Part of the wonder of being alone in the back country is the opportunity to see and sometimes inter-relate to wildlife. They let you know by the way they act if they are alarmed, or relaxed, irritated or possibly aggressive and you learn to sense when you are in or close to what they consider their private space and it’s good to respect that. They act much like you or I would. I almost always wear camouflaged clothing, which also helps, and make as little noise as possible. I think they tend to accept anyone who behaves like one of them and who respects their patterns of behavior.

      Comment by montucky — December 29, 2012 @ 8:41 pm

  17. Such a commanding creature. He sure looks confidant and almost like he’s daring you to come a little closer. Either that, or he’s just posing, saying, “Oh yeah, I’m king of the hill.” ;-) Great photo!

    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — December 29, 2012 @ 11:43 am

    • When I’m close to rams I always sense a feeling of confidence and strength, never fear. I think their attitude is that I’m welcome as long as I don’t misbehave and if I do they will simply knock me off the mountain, in a matter-of-fact sort of way. And I can get along fine with those rules.

      Comment by montucky — December 29, 2012 @ 8:44 pm

  18. funny!!:)

    Comment by skouba — December 29, 2012 @ 9:33 pm

  19. Rather you than me stalking a ram, particularly one that mean looking! Lovely shot, Terry.

    Have a happy new year. :)

    Comment by Val — December 30, 2012 @ 5:56 am

  20. Whoa, that’s an amazing photo! Nothing like him in Ohio I fear!

    Comment by Watching Seasons — December 31, 2012 @ 5:18 pm

    • I’m sure you would enjoy them. This time of year a group of them will come down on the highway not too far from here and everyone stops to look at them and I see a lot of them taking pictures. These two were in the back country though and not uses to seeing people. Very curious.

      Comment by montucky — December 31, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

  21. What a beautiful creature! How fortunate to have spotted him…and that he let you come as close as you did. ;)

    Comment by seekraz — January 1, 2013 @ 10:32 am

    • I have had good luck in getting close to them for the most part, but I remember one huge ram who wouldn’t let me get within 500 yards. I sure do love to see them though.

      Comment by montucky — January 1, 2013 @ 6:28 pm

      • You must be doing it right. ;)

        We have “mountain goats” up here around some of the peaks…I haven’t seen any of them yet, but I hope to add some images of them to my photo library at some point.

        Comment by seekraz — January 2, 2013 @ 7:31 pm

        • They will get you excited when you see them. There are still quite a few of them here in Glacier, but their numbers have dwindled a lot in other areas.

          Comment by montucky — January 2, 2013 @ 9:18 pm


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