Rise and Shine

Grizzly walking in early morning sunlight
“Into the Light” by Charlie Lansche

By Lorraine Snipper

I know, I know… You’re on vacation and want to sleep in.  I’ve been there myself, on more than one occasion!

I have a secret to share. I have found that it’s well worth it to get up early (rising sun if you just want to look in the nearby woods, or before the early morning skies lighten if you have a distance to travel), in order to view wildlife traveling through the area.  From pronghorn to deer and elk, even moose, you will be most likely to have a close-up photographic opportunity (driving on backcountry roads or kayaking on meandering streams), in the early morning hours when it is barely light enough to obtain focus! Creep along as slowly as possible, out here you are less likely to encounter another vehicle on back roads. Other vehicles might mean less viewing opportunities! Use caution and good sense in your wanderings, and bear spray if you step away from your vehicle.

Mule deer in sage brush
A mule deer rests in the sagebrush

This 4X5 mule deer buck was hanging out with three other bucks, all in velvet in various stages of growth, at 6:00 a.m. in the woods behind my house. This is a great time of year to see males hanging out together, before they strike out to form their harems or partner with a chosen cow, and leave their brotherhood bonds behind. I have observed this behavior with deer, elk and even moose, though not so much with pronghorn. My personal term for these groupings is “The Bachelors Club.” In recent past, one such club comprised eight bull moose! My theories are strictly anecdotal, from personal experiences, which is why I often refer to myself as an unapologetic opportunist. To me, I’m just an ordinary person with extraordinary opportunities, and you can be that person, as well… So rise and shine!