Thursday, March 10, 2011

Elk everywhere

Elk were everywhere, both inside and outside the park. When we arrived in Gardiner, elk were lumbering around town, wandering through streets and yards. It got to be a joke to say, "Look! An elk!" They became a part of the scenery, and not such a big deal.
I liked this shot because the elk in the foreground was digging at the snow with its hoof to get to the grass underneath. The elk behind and above it is looking back, with a tiny amount of snow on its nose.
In the photos I take after this, the one looking back puts its head back down to keep eating. Apparently people in cars become part of the scenery for the elk, too.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Can you see me?

This is another photo from the afternoon in Yellowstone National Park. Here I found the limits of the only lens for my camera. (Hey, it's a new camera, and I plan to buy more lenses in the future.) Surprisingly, the other reporter with the point-and-shoot got some better photos because she had a better zoom. I'm not complaining, just explaining why these may look a little grainy. I still LOVE my camera.
You may also notice the change in color. When I took the upper photo the sun was out. When I took the lower one, the sun was behind clouds.
Either way, I'm still amazed at this bighorn sheep's ability to blend into its surroundings.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Herding together

The animals in Yellowstone National Park know a good spot when they find it. A small herd of buffalo ate in the foreground here, while many, many elk foraged on the hillside behind them.
The wind had cleared snow from the landscape, exposing the grasses below. This is much easier eating than the buffalo's alternative: using its head as a snowplow to push the white stuff aside and dig to the grass below.
The photo is dark because the sun had just set. Fortunately my snazzy new camera has low-light settings. But those can only go so far. I sacrificed clarity for getting the dark shot.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Up close and personal

After the two days of hunting, CTUIR Wildlife Program Manager Carl Scheeler took myself and two other journalists (one from the Associated Press and a freelancer for National Public Radio) into Yellowstone National Park to get shots of local wildlife. Carl was hoping to find some wolves, but we were out of luck.
In the mean time we took many, many photos of buffalo and other wildlife. Here is one bison standing right by our car. The gray thing at the bottom of the photo is the microphone from the NPR reporter. She was trying to get buffalo sounds to add to her audio piece.
This buffalo looked slightly annoyed, but more bored by our presence. We soon drove past, and it continued on its way across the road.

Friday, March 4, 2011


Several people asked me, when I told them I was going out with tribal hunters, if they were using a bow and arrow. I usually laughed and said 'no.'
The Umatilla Tribes have often touted their adaptability. Part of that adaptability made it possible for them to go to buffalo country in the first place. When horses came to North America, the Cayuse bred some of the best horses in the region. One of the oral histories I read told about Cayuse horses outrunning the Crow horses on buffalo hunts. That made the Crow want to bargain with the Cayuse for their horses, and the tribes became allies.
Today is no exception. The hunters used high-powered rifles, sharp knives, ropes and trucks. They used modern tools to do a job.
Not that it made the job any easier. It still took between three and five hours after the buffalo was shot to get gutting, skinning and quartering all done.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


I liked the perspective on this photo, but it wouldn't work on newsprint because the buffalo's snout would just look like a huge dark blotch.
I hope the blog provides enough clarity for you to see it's the upside-down nose of a bison.
This was during the gutting process, when the hunters and helpers had to hold the 2,000-pound dead buffalo on its back. That wasn't an easy task and involved two or three men holding legs and hooves in place.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

On the lookout

It took two or three hours of looking and watching the buffalo on the first day of the hunt before one moved into a spot where the hunters could legally shoot it.
Meanwhile those in the party watched with excitement and apprehension, just waiting.
On that first day, I was so wrapped up in what was happening right in front of me, I neglected to notice the beautiful scenery all around us. I was oblivious to the mountains in the background here, for instance.
It was an amazing place to be and an amazing time to be there.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


This is a photo of one of the hunters I followed to buffalo country. This one did run in the East Oregonian, but the photo was small. I wouldn't complain, a photo in the paper is great no matter what. But the reason why I like this photo is the blood -- buffalo blood -- on the hunter's face, which you couldn't really see in a small newsprint photo.
The blood in the photo isn't just blood for the sake of showing something shocking. The hunter didn't know, nor did he care, that it was on his face. He was too busy at the task at hand -- gutting his kill -- to be bothered. This is one of the only photos I got of him where he wasn't looking down at what he was doing, intense on his duty as a hunter. It shows his commitment to his role as a hunter, and how important it was to him.