It had been quite a while since I saw any of the pronghorn herd that hangs out north of Denver International Airport. One recent morning, I happened across a bachelor herd of about a dozen of the handsome fellows. While they were initially lying down, staying true to form, they quickly got up and headed off in a cloud of dust. I tried to get ahead of them but they outsmarted me, ducking down into a low-lying area then cutting behind me and settling down way too far out into another field.
It has been quite a while since I have seen any of the pronghorn that are known to hang out north of Denver International Airport. This past weekend a few does did make themselves available for a quick photo session before their usual act of turning tail and running.
This particular one lingered a bit longer than the rest and posed quite nicely in the field. While you can’t see it here, when she was a bit more in the open it did appear she was pregnant which was good to see. The pronghorn probably have another month or so of gestation before giving birth.
Saturday morning found me on Colorado’s northeastern plains, well away from most people. My feathered friends didn’t want to come out and play so I hit the dirt roads looking for something photo-worthy. I figured I would find some proverbial “speed goats” and sure enough, I came across two good-sized herds.
As is pretty typical, they did not want to hang around for pictures, heading off in a cloud of dust. This one buck however lagged the rest of one of the herds giving me time to get into a half-way decent position to catch images of it as it raced by.
As North America’s fastest mammal, they can run up to 60mph making them a fun but somewhat difficult photo subject. I kind of liked this pic as it does a nice job showing the action, mid-stride and kicking up the dirt.
And, not just one, but 21 of them! Ah yes, those white butts are quite familiar to anyone that has tried to capture pictures of these speed demons of the Great Plains.
They are notoriously shy and being the second-fastest land animal in the world (second to the cheetah), they have the ability to remove themselves from picture opportunities quite quickly. This past weekend I came across a sizeable herd of them and me simply stopping my truck was all it took to get them off and running.
In this image I counted 21 pronghorns although a couple of their white butts are blocked by others. I certainly have gotten far closer and better pictures of these guys but this was kind of a fun capture.
I had just remarked to my wife that it was odd we hadn’t seen many pronghorn when this little one and a bunch more appeared. Two bucks, three does and four fawns helped wrap up our tour of our favorite are of the park.
As is typical for the species, none really wanted anything to do with us but this one was quite curious, walking closer while the others maintained their distance.
When I first happened across this handsome (but scraggly, shedding) fellow, he was actually pretty close. But, pronghorn are quite shy and this one was no different, quickly putting some distance between he and I.
They are, however, also notoriously curious and I used a trick I learned long ago – I waved my arm. That motion was enough to get him to stop, turn around, and investigate.
As you can tell, he is shedding his winter coat and none too soon given how hot it has been lately here on the Colorado Front Range.
Oh my goodness! Such an absolutely amazing encounter yesterday!
I had gone to Cheyenne for work and on my way back, as always, I was watching for pronghorn. Just inside the Colorado border I spotted a doe standing a good ways off in a field and then saw movement behind her – a fawn – and it clearly had just been born!
Quickly, I snapped bunches of pics when I noticed movement in the grass in front of her. A second fawn! Twins! Both were still very wet from birth and already working hard to get those long, wobbly legs moving. I suspect they had been born less than an hour before I spotted them.
Now, I have seen recently born animals many, many times before but never ones so “fresh.” It was amazing to see new life immediately after it was brought into the world and, honestly, brought tears to my eyes.
These guys don’t get the press that moose, elk and deer do, but I absolutely love them. How can you not find the fastest land animal in the western hemisphere cool?
While my photo trip Saturday didn’t turn out as planned, I did find a couple of good-sized herds of these speed demons and, thankfully, they obliged me with some nice shots. Here, a buck decided it would rather not pose and took off running.
Being capable of speeds of 55mph and not usually liking people, they are a challenge to photograph. By far I have taken more “pronghorn butt” pictures than the rear-ends of any other animal. 😉
One last “top shots” video recapping my 2020 photo year. Today, I look back at some of the mammals that I photographed. From the tiny American pika to the massive moose, I was fortunate to spend time with some pretty amazing creatures. Two new animals that I had never photographed were highlights including a suburban bobcat family and the wild #horses of Sand Wash Basin. All images taken here in Colorado.
The most fleet-footed animals on the plains, pronghorn are not only fast, they are pretty skittish. This handsome fellow proved that true on both counts.
He was fine with me driving by but the second I stopped my truck, it was off to the races. Here I caught him mid-stride with him stretched out and all of his legs in the air.
One of the puzzles about these creatures is why did they evolve to run so fast (50+ mph)? There is no reason for them to have that speed as there are no predators in North America that have a prayer of keeping up. Skeletons have been found indicating there used to be an American cheetah that has long been extinct. It is theorized that the pronghorn developed its speed to be able to get away from that predator.