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Bighorn Sheep

Bighorn ram stands tall and proud

From the top of a cliff some 40 feet above me, this Bighorn Sheep ram looked quite majestic. The rugged animal is accented by the red rocks he is standing on and the brilliant blue sky behind him.

This particular ram is one of the younger ones in the herd that maintains its residence in Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver, Colorado.

The Bighorn Sheep is found in many places in the state’s high country. Diseases from European livestock and overhunting had caused the animal’s population to drop precipitously by the early 1900s. Thankfully conservation efforts have been successful in helping it rebound since then.

A Bighorn Sheep ram stands proudly on the side of a mountain. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep ram stands proudly on the side of a mountain. (© Tony’s Takes)

He’ll be comin’ down the mountain when he comes…

He’ll be comin’ down the mountain when he comes… And he likely is not something you want to get in front of.

This Bighorn Sheep ram appeared to be content watching the people from above when it suddenly decided it wanted to get a lower perspective.

Rams can weigh almost 300 pounds and given that when they charge each other they do so at over 30mph, I was more than willing to give him a wide berth. It is amazing to me how agile an hooved animal can be, especially on such uneven and rocky terrain.

A Bighorn Sheep ram scampers down the side of Waterton Canyon. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep ram scampers down the side of Waterton Canyon. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep ram scampers down the side of Waterton Canyon. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep ram scampers down the side of Waterton Canyon. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep ram scampers down the side of Waterton Canyon. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep ram scampers down the side of Waterton Canyon. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep ram scampers down the side of Waterton Canyon. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep ram scampers down the side of Waterton Canyon. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bighorn Sheep ram strikes a classic pose

It is, to me, very fitting to have Bighorn Sheep as Colorado’s official animal and this pose is just about perfect. Just like the terrain and many of its people, these animals are very rugged, strong and tough.

This particular ram was one of several hanging out in Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver this past Monday. I missed them on my way up the canyon but on the way back they were clearly visible on the side of the canyon. All-in-all I rode over 13 miles on my bike that day, far more than what I would have needed to if I saw them on the first pass. Nevertheless, it was well worth it.

The Bighorn Sheep is found in many places in the state’s high country. Diseases from European livestock and overhunting had caused the animal’s population to drop precipitously by the early 1900s. Thankfully conservation efforts have been successful in helping the sheep rebound since then.

A Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep ram keeps watch over the canyon. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep ram keeps watch over the canyon. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bighorn Sheep ram relieves itself

A photographic lesson about paying close attention to exactly what your subject is doing.

Fantastic high altitude mountains. Check. Powerful wildlife subject. Check. Subject in a majestic pose. Check. All looks good, the Bighorn Sheep is standing rock solid still. Click the shutter.

You get home and process the pictures and you then see exactly why that ram was holding so still. 😉 A bit of a Friday funny for you.

A Bighorn Sheep ram relieves itself in Rocky Mountain National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep ram relieves itself in Rocky Mountain National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

“What? Do I have something stuck in my teeth?”

A Bighorn Sheep ewe chomps on pieces of a bush it was snacking on.  This pretty lady was hanging out in Waterton Canyon, Colorado yesterday along with a friend and a lamb. In a few more weeks the rams will start making their appearance and begin gearing up for the annual rut.

"What? Do I have something stuck in my teeth?" A Bighorn Sheep ewe chomps on pieces of a bush it was snacking on. (© Tony’s Takes)

“What? Do I have something stuck in my teeth?” A Bighorn Sheep ewe chomps on pieces of a bush it was snacking on. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bighorn Sheep stake out high altitude residence

With more mountain peaks over 14,000 feet high, it is fitting that #Colorado chose this creature as their official state animal. Bighorn Sheep love the rarified air at high altitude and their rugged lifestyle seems appropriate for the Centennial State.

I was lucky enough to come across two Bighorn rams recently as they lounged around near the top of Trail Ridge Road (12,183 feet) in Rocky Mountain National Park. With no trees in the way thanks to their being way above timberline, I was able to capture many pics of them.

In the coming weeks they will undoubtedly move to lower altitudes and closer to the females. As they do, the males won’t likely be so tolerant of each other as they begin competing for the affection of the fairer sex. ?

A Bighorn Sheep ram lounges near the top of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep ram lounges near the top of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Very weathered and battle tested horns on this Bighorn Sheep Ram.  (© Tony’s Takes)

Very weathered and battle tested horns on this Bighorn Sheep Ram. (© Tony’s Takes)

The Bighorn Sheep rams gaze down the side of the mountain.  (© Tony’s Takes)

The Bighorn Sheep rams gaze down the side of the mountain. (© Tony’s Takes)

Rocky Mountain Bighorn ewe casts a gentle gaze

This pretty lady and a few of her gal pals were hanging out in Estes Park, Colorado this past weekend. The four of them were clearly quite accustomed to having their picture taken as our presence didn’t bother them one bit as they continued to lounge and graze.

Right now they aren’t particularly photogenic as they shed their winter coats, notice the raggedy appearance of the ewe behind this one. Unfortunately I didn’t spot any rams on this day.

The Bighorn Sheep is the official animal of the state of #Colorado and found in many places in the state’s high country. Diseases from European livestock and overhunting had caused the animal’s population to drop precipitously by the early 1900s. Thankfully conservation efforts have been successful in helping the sheep rebound since then.

You can read more about these cool animals here.

A Bighorn Sheep ewe looks at peace.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep ewe looks at peace. (© Tony’s Takes)

Young Bighorn Sheep rams lock horns

Taken in Waterton Canyon, Colorado back in October. Not old enough to do battle with the big boys, this pair of young rams was testing their mettle against each other in preparation for the day when they would be fighting for females’ affection.

Two young Bighorn Sheep rams test their mettle against each other. (© Tony’s Takes)

Two young Bighorn Sheep rams test their mettle against each other. (© Tony’s Takes)

Posing Bighorn Ram

This big guy didn’t mind having his picture taken back in October in Waterton Canyon, Colorado. The Bighorn Sheep in the area are a big attraction for photographers and recreationalists for good reason. This is one location I may be re-visiting during the long holiday weekend. I just have to convince my photo buddy – my son – that it is worth the 12 mile bike ride. 😉

A Bighorn Sheep ram poses for the camera.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep ram poses for the camera. (© Tony’s Takes)

Battle-tested Bighorn Sheep

This ram wore the scars of battles past proudly as he strutted with his peers in Waterton Canyon, Colorado a couple weeks ago. The bighorn rut is in full swing right now as they fight for the right to mate with the nearby herd of ewes.

A Bighorn Sheep ram poses.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep ram poses. (© Tony’s Takes)