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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Bison Shoot

August 20th, 2011 · No Comments

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We still have some bison in America. Linda told me that she counted 51 today, and I shot all of them.

Before the white man arrived on this continent, perhaps 100 million bison roamed the plains. Senseless slaughter in the 19th Century came close to wiping them out. But our country now has half a million captive bison on about 4,000 private ranches as well as about 30,000 in conservation herds like the one I shot today at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge.

Linda Broeren is a volunteer tour leader at the refuge. But she was off duty today to take the bison photo shoot led by Jean Tate and organized by the Friends of the Front Range Wildlife Refuges, of which I am a member.

Earlier, I have seen the refuge’s bison herd at a distance on tours led by Linda and other volunteers. But today’s tour is the only one each year that lets people go inside the 1,450 acres of the refuge where the bison are free to roam. A total of eight of took a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service van to several locations where we were able to see the bison up close and almost personal.

We made sure to get off to an early start and reached the bison just before the sun came up over the horizon at 6:22 a.m. Even though the refuge is only half an hour from my apartment, that meant getting up more than two hours earlier. But it was worth it.

Bison at First Light

Bison at First Light

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Comin' Atcha!

Comin' Atcha!

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We got out of the van for all of the shots. We did keep a safe distance from these huge and sometimes dangerous animals, which are the largest terrestrial animals in North America.

But we were watching only the main herd. Once when we returned to the van I noticed a solitary male right behind us. Fortunately, he was more interested in eating grass than us, but he was so close that he more than filled my telephoto lens.

A Bit Close

A Bit Close

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We followed the bison for several hours, shooting them from all angles. Here we saw them just as they came over a ridge. The Rocky Mountains are in the background.

Looking Up

Looking Up

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Here we saw them as we looked down. The skyline of downtown Denver, less than a dozen miles away, stands up in the background before the Rockies.

City and Country

City and Country

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Besides eating, the bison also carried on their other usual activities. Here one of them takes a dust bath, probably to get rid of flies and bugs.

A Dust Bath

A Dust Bath

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Just Practicing!

Just Practicing!

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One Way to Carry A Twig

One Way to Carry A Twig

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A large flock of starlings followed the bison.

Surrounded by Starlings

Surrounded by Starlings

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Carrying a Starling on the Nose?

Carrying a Starling on the Nose?

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In addition to these 10 shots I took another 600 or so that I will spare you. But I also took several short movies of the bison herd. If you have a minute to spare, you can watch the herd as it moves along. I posted it on YouTube at http://youtu.be/mZWECdW4PkY

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