I admit it! Sometimes I’m a road hunter. Here in Wyoming that means someone who hunts big game animals from their vehicle. That’s considered being a lazy hunter to be honest. Well, I wasn’t hunting with a rifle. I was hunting with my camera, so maybe I can be forgiven. This week I drove Poison Spider Road and surveyed each side of the country road for Antelope (American Pronghorn). I was not disappointed.
Poison Spider road is a great area for Antelope, but the road has a peculiar name. According to Mae Urbanek in her book, “Wyoming Place Names”, one possible reason Poison Spider Creek received its name was when an early surveyor needed a new thread for his transit, he went to a spider web to get it and was bitten and died. Another version says a sheepherder was bitten by a poisonous spider and died. Yet another story says the water was poisonous to livestock. Take your pick. There are many curious names in Wyoming but that doesn’t take away from the abundance of Antelope along Poison Spider Road.
Maybe I was road hunting to avoid poisonous spiders, or maybe I was just enjoying a drive in Antelope country. Whatever the reason, I was richly rewarded. There are more Antelope in Natrona County, Wyoming, than there are people. There might even be more Antelope in the entire state than people. Needless to say, I live in prime Antelope country and should take advantage of that and pull my camera out from time to time and see what I can photograph.
Early Fall in Wyoming can be magnificent. It sure was Sunday with clear, cobalt blue skies and warm temperatures but not hot. I could see sky from over my right shoulder clear across to over my left shoulder all the way to the horizon on both sides. There were times I could see at least 50 miles in some direction or another. Antelope were grazing all along the road. Most of the way is over private land closed to hunting, consequently, the critters were not too skittish. They did get a little nervous when I would stop my car to take pictures. They do sometimes have a strange urge to first run off and then stop and turn around and peer back at what frightened them. If they are too wary, they won’t stop, but if they are more curious than scared, they stop and look back. A photographer can take advantage of this and sometimes get some good pictures. One key for any wildlife photographer is to know the animal’s habits. Use that knowledge to your advantage to get some shots.
One more thing about Antelope is that they might not run far from a car, but as soon as a person opens the door and gets out, they run off using their great speed. The Antelope is the fastest animal in North America, so they can disappear over the hill very quickly. They are a wonder to watch as they bound through the sagebrush, leaping, running and being free. Consequently, a long time ago, I learned not to get out of the car for my Antelope pictures. Just roll the window down and shoot. That’s why I was road hunting this past Sunday. I was able to capture a couple of pictures I thought I could display here.
One the way back, I observed for my first time ever, two large Antelope bucks fighting it out. Their horns were locked in bodily combat. The larger animal was pushing the somewhat smaller one back as he dug his hooves into the ground. Their leg muscles were tight and bulging. Heads with large horns were down almost in the dirt each pushing and shoving hard and making the area around them seem like a dust storm. I knew I wanted this picture and hoped they would give me the time to stop the car and shoot. They didn’t! As soon as I stopped the car, they stopped fighting. Each wandered off as if it was just a nice warm evening and did not have a care in the world. So, I didn’t get my picture of an Antelope fight.
Buck Antelope fight for females. This is the time of year they build their harems. These two were doing just that. A buck will run off any other bucks so they can have the sole attention of their ladies. This is a time immortal event that has been occurring and reoccurring for thousands of years. I just feel so lucky to be able to observe this and live in Wyoming and have the opportunity to photograph them.
Please take a look at my other pictures at my web store. Framed scenic prints are available. http://SamSherman.imagekind.com/