Montana Outdoors

February 28, 2015

Mule deer buck ~ B & W conversion

I seldom participate in challenges, but Maurice at i AM Safari invited me to post in the current Black & White challenge and I have a photograph that is so similar in its essence to the one that he posted from half the world away that I simply had to post it.

When I was a kid growing up here in western Montana in the mid 40’s, we lived near the edge of town and about a mile away from our house (within my permissible roaming distance) there was a large section of natural prairie which in the spring was very nicely decorated by a profusion of wildflowers, most notably the state flower of Montana, the Bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva). The Bitterroot has always been considered a valuable plant to the native Salish and Kootenai Indian tribes who cooked and ate the roots and large numbers of tribal members came from the nearby Flathead Indian Reservation each spring to camp and harvest roots on that section of prairie. They were very friendly people and were quite pleased to let a little kid like me help them with their harvest, and that became a real highlight for me every spring.

Sadly, that special place has now long been buried under the asphalt , concrete, and brick and mortar of commercial development that some folks call “progress” and Bitterroots have become very scarce. They do still bloom in places on the Reservation though (although not in great numbers), and each June I visit there to see and photograph the flowers.

Bitterroot ~ Lewisia rediviva

Bitterroot ~ Lewisia rediviva

In June of 2011 a couple of miles from where I had been photographing Bitterroots I encountered a beautiful young Mule deer buck and was able to capture one of my favorite photos of that species, and probably the only photo in my entire library that I think looks fairly decent as a black and white conversion: a native mulie, perfectly at home in his natural habitat, wondering who or what I am and if I really belong there too.

Mule deer ~ Odocoileus hemionus

Mule deer ~ Odocoileus hemionus


  1. This “progress” affect some good memories and brings a bitter taste to those to love to observe nature.
    Thank you for sharing this story with us.
    Bitterroot looks nice. Does it have a nice scent, too?
    That mule deer looks a bit sad to me, don’t know why. But, nevertheless it looks gentle.


    Comment by Cornel Ap. — February 28, 2015 @ 2:40 am

    • I haven’t detected much of a scent at all in Bitterroots, but I sure love their blossoms.


      Comment by montucky — February 28, 2015 @ 9:35 am

  2. affects – sorry for my mistakes.


    Comment by Cornel Ap. — February 28, 2015 @ 2:41 am

  3. What a superb conversion. It’s not often the outline of a wild animal comes up so well in the bush. I think you caught the light (and white part of his fur) perfectly.
    I certainly feel sad that progress has even split the road where my Father built our first house in such a way that children can no longer walk across the road to the scrubby area that we used to roam as kids. It’s almost a freeway now.


    Comment by Vicki — February 28, 2015 @ 5:57 am

    • Yes, the light must have been just perfect to get all of the various contrasts.
      I now live about 80 miles from the house in which I grew up, and there are many places in that area where I just cannot bring myself to try to visit now. Personally I think that the price we have paid for progress has been part of our souls.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — February 28, 2015 @ 9:40 am

  4. Stunning photos, sad commentary. The people who grow up after these places are gone have no idea what was lost.


    Comment by Jessica — February 28, 2015 @ 6:24 am

    • And the money that was made from those developments was spent long ago on other developments. How do we ever learn?


      Comment by montucky — February 28, 2015 @ 9:43 am

  5. It’s too bad to plow such beautiful flowers and the memories that go along with them under. Some day people might regret what they’ve done.
    That’s a great shot of the deer! I don’t know much about mule deer but he looks almost sad in that photo. Maybe they all look like that.


    Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — February 28, 2015 @ 6:40 am

    • It is sad about the lost memories, but sadder still is the fact that now there will be no more new memories of those places; just the pavement the leads to more “progress”.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — February 28, 2015 @ 9:46 am

  6. It’s hard not to like the bitterroot even though developers don’t respect it. It’s a part of the state’s history and habitats and deserves a better place in the modern scheme of things than being paved over. Nice pix.


    Comment by Malcolm R. Campbell — February 28, 2015 @ 6:58 am

    • Bitterroots used to be very plentiful but now they are hard to find. Unlike wildflowers who grow in forested places, they really have no place to hide.


      Comment by montucky — February 28, 2015 @ 9:48 am

  7. What a wonderful photo of the mule deer. I can see the sadness that others see, but it didn’t seem quite right to me. Finally, I came up with a word that seems to fit better: guileless. It’s as though he’s simply there, just observing, without any hint of fear or distress. Perhaps he recognized that the photographer was just there, too!


    Comment by shoreacres — February 28, 2015 @ 7:44 am

    • I like the word “guileless” better too. Sadness perhaps is in our eyes, as though he is foretelling the future.


      Comment by montucky — February 28, 2015 @ 9:52 am

  8. A wonderful childhood memory…thank you for sharing with us. I felt sadness when you wrote about the “progress” and such a loss for people who depended on the land. I can at least still revisit some of the places my childhood mind takes me. Oh, and that Mule Deer photo is great! hugs


    Comment by Beth — February 28, 2015 @ 7:58 am

    • I guess that “progress” has a meaning to me that is different from it’s usual one. How many shopping malls do we really need?


      Comment by montucky — February 28, 2015 @ 9:55 am

  9. An impressive Mule deer!


    Comment by centralohionature — February 28, 2015 @ 8:13 am

    • He was a young adult then. I’d love to see him today if he’s still around!


      Comment by montucky — February 28, 2015 @ 9:56 am

  10. Great photo indeed Terry – I love the innocence of its look, no hurry, no worry, completely at ease, just lovely. Thanks!


    Comment by — February 28, 2015 @ 10:05 am

    • Thanks. Yes he was at ease, being exactly where he wanted to be, and I was no threat. the way I love to see them.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — February 28, 2015 @ 10:41 am

  11. Great photo! He has a real presence about him. That Lewisia is gorgeous, too.


    Comment by Jo Woolf — February 28, 2015 @ 11:36 am

  12. Two beautiful photos. I feel the pain of your commentary. It’s happening everywhere mostly sped on by urbanites who will never understand the damage they have done.


    Comment by wordsfromanneli — February 28, 2015 @ 11:50 am

  13. The mule deer is terrific! Interesting story of change.


    Comment by Sue — February 28, 2015 @ 3:34 pm

  14. Your b&w worked out very well..Very nice and the Bitterroot is stunning…


    Comment by Mother Hen — February 28, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

    • Thanks. I’m vewry happy to know where there are still Bitterroots growing. For years I couldn’t find them.


      Comment by montucky — February 28, 2015 @ 8:28 pm

  15. What a beautiful post and message, and always more than sad… But thank goodness for people like you to show – remind everyone. I always want to have hope that the tide WILL turn.


    Comment by FeyGirl — March 1, 2015 @ 12:01 am

    • Thanks! I stay concerned and wonder just what it might take to make people understand how to coexist with the Earth. The thought is scary.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — March 1, 2015 @ 3:59 pm

  16. Such a beautiful image, Terry.


    Comment by seekraz — March 1, 2015 @ 8:08 am

  17. These are both fabulous pics. I love the colour and detail of the bitter root flower. How sad though, as you say, about “progress” taking over the the special place you once visited. How sad too about the effects on the native American tribes. I’m glad you have such lovely memories from your childhood though. The black and white deer photo is wonderful. I would have that one on my wall (the photo, not the deer of course). 🙂


    Comment by Jane — March 1, 2015 @ 8:00 pm

    • Thanks Jane! I was very happy that day to have dozens of photos of the Bitterroots and a couple of the native mule deer. That made a very satisfactory day!

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — March 1, 2015 @ 8:13 pm

  18. Both captures are stunning! 🙂


    Comment by bayphotosbydonna — March 2, 2015 @ 7:24 am

  19. Hi Montucky, Have I mentioned that I think you are a simply fabulous photographer? Yes, I certainly do! I just love both photographs. Sorry your area has paved over the wildflowers. That does seem to happen now more frequently. I told my now adult son when he was about ten, to appreciate and enjoy the wide open spaces in what is now Elk Grove, CA, near Sacramento because when he would be an adult it would be subdivisions – sadly I was correct (among many reasons we moved from CA). Have a wonderful Wednesday tomorrow!


    Comment by wildlifewatcher — March 3, 2015 @ 3:41 pm

    • Thank you for your kind words, wildlifewatcher!
      I think we have things going backwards these days. We build subdivisions on top of beautiful natural places, watch them mature and age and become slums which just sit there. If we really have to have new subdivisions, we ought to be building them on the places where slums now sit and leave the natural places alone!


      Comment by montucky — March 3, 2015 @ 8:52 pm

  20. In Texas the greatest loss has been to the native prairies, which have almost completely disappeared (at least in their original form) under farms and ranches and now subdivisions, stores, and roads. Just in the 15 years I’ve been photographing nature in the Austin area, various sites have been lost. In 2014 I noticed at least four, the largest number of any year.


    Comment by Steve Schwartzman — March 4, 2015 @ 12:26 am

    • It’s such a shame to lose so much of the natural habitat. Being an old guy, I can remember all of the changes since the 40’s. Projecting the same amounts into future years, the picture gets really scary.


      Comment by montucky — March 4, 2015 @ 7:47 pm

  21. He’s a beautiful deer and it’s a great b/w photo. It is very sad that our constant development ruins natural habitats.


    Comment by Candace — March 5, 2015 @ 11:41 pm

    • Yes, we are so wasteful of our natural places. I can’t believe that we still need more and more shopping malls. I read a few weeks ago that south of Denver they are building what will be the nation’s biggest mall. Among other things they will annihilate one of the largest prairie dog colonies in Colorado’s front range, paving over the last remaining 3,000 to 8,000 prairie dog burrows and pouring concrete over 170 acres. We are the enemies of most of the other creatures with whom we share this planet and seem Hell bent on eliminating species that may well be vital to the biodiversity that provides the correct balance necessary to maintain all life here. And for what? To put a few more $Millions into the pockets of people who already have many $Millions already.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — March 5, 2015 @ 11:58 pm

      • I agree. It’s tragic what we do to the planet and the other creatures.


        Comment by Candace — March 6, 2015 @ 12:19 am

  22. such a lovely flower
    i still have never seen it
    perhaps i will wander south this spring, wander about and see what i find.

    yes, the mule deer looks wonderful in B&W


    Comment by Tammie — March 8, 2015 @ 9:18 am

    • Tammie, I have been finding them on Camas Prairie during the first week of June. When I go there this summer and find that they are blooming, I will send you an email with directions.


      Comment by montucky — March 8, 2015 @ 9:24 am

  23. Thank you telling a bit of Your childhood. I remember very well Your photo of young Mule deer buck well done.


    Comment by Sartenada — March 16, 2015 @ 3:53 am

    • Thanks Matti! I’m glad that you like the photo of the buck!


      Comment by montucky — March 16, 2015 @ 7:10 pm

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