A Few Mammals From My Recent Camping Trip To Montana And Idaho

Birds are always my focus but I enjoy photographing critters of all types. Early this month I spent a week camping near the Continental Divide between Montana and Idaho and during that time I was able to photograph a variety of mammals, large and small.

 

uinta ground squirrel 7424 ron dudley

1/800, f/8, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + 1.4 tc, not baited, set up or called in

This Uinta Ground Squirrel was chattering at me from atop a lichen-covered boulder in Montana’s Centennial Valley. Those fearsome-looking incisors are a major reason why some large raptors pay a painful price when they attempt to prey on ground squirrels. In my experience most of them prefer smaller rodents such as voles, probably for that very reason.

 

 

red fox 9813 ron dudley

1/640, f/5.6, ISO 1000, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + 1.4 tc, not baited, set up or called in

One cloudy evening I spent some time with three Red Fox kits playing near their den. I couldn’t get very close to them and when the sun was out the light angle was bad so my images of them aren’t very good but they were sure fun to watch through my lens.

 

 

red fox 9912 ron dudley

1/1000, f/5.6, ISO 1250, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + 1.4 tc, not baited, set up or called in

Their playful antics were usually hidden behind sagebrush but when they would become airborne they were sometimes more visible.

 

 

badger 1739 ron dudley

1/4000, f/5, ISO 500, Canon 7D, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM @ 200mm, not baited, set up or called in

I had a special bond with this female badger because of a physical feature I share with her. My family is known for their prominent “Dudley ears” (which many of us wear proudly) but a head-on look at the badger reveals that her ears have mine beat. The large ears of badgers have always surprised me a little because it’s a feature that seems a little unusual in a burrowing mammal. They must need them to listen intently as they dig out their ground squirrel prey.

 

 

pronghorn 7055 ron dudley

1/1250, f/8, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, not baited, set up or called in

Early June is fawning season in the Centennial Valley and I had several opportunities with does with their youngsters. Twins seemed common but this one had no siblings that I was aware of.

 

 

pronghorn 7323 ron dudley

1/1250, f/9, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + 1.4 tc, not baited, set up or called in

The fawn was showing its developing independence as it romped and played near its mother but after a few minutes it would always return to the doe, often to nurse.

 

 

elk 7574 ron dudley

1/1000, f/8, ISO 400, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + 1.4 tc, not baited, set up or called in

In the early mornings I’m always on the lookout to photograph elk as they jump the fences in order to return to the relative safety of the nearby mountains after spending the night grazing in the valley. I was disappointed that this one was back-lit but I think the image still demonstrates the grace and strength of such a large animal as it effortlessly clears the fence.

There isn’t a single feather in this entire collection of images but I suspect many of my readers enjoy seeing wild mammals as much as I do.

Ron

 

33 comments to A Few Mammals From My Recent Camping Trip To Montana And Idaho

  • Oooh. And ahhh.
    Still several hours to dawn here and I too am smiling. Widely.
    Love the fox kits. Hell, love it all.

  • Arwen Lynch-Poe

    That first one reminds me of the silly BBC video with the woodchuck voiceover ‘Steve! Steve! Steve!”

    The kits are too adorable!

    But my fave is that baby pronghorn in mid-leap of glee. 😀

  • Carlotta

    Ron
    I so look forward for your articles as they make my day and give lots of inspiration and information. In particular I Love Foxes and the playfulness you caught is priceless

    thank you
    Carlotta

  • Susan Stone

    I’m definitely one who enjoys the mammals for a change. Especially the Red Fox kits, and the beautiful portrait of the Badger. I guess I’m just a sucker for your photos – they’re a great way to start my day.

    • Susan, mammals can be just as much fun to photograph as birds. Birds are more numerous and I get more opportunities with them but because of their tendency toward shyness and their quickness I find them more difficult to photograph well.

  • Patty Chadwick

    What a great surprise!!! A real treat! I always love seeing our unfeathered friends, too…funny, I don’t see your resemblance to the badger…her face is wider,flatter and fuzzier and has more stripes….(you’re both pretty cute, though)…..
    I like the almost silhouette view of the elk leaping over the Devil’s wire fence and glad there’s no fawn trying to follow….thanks for the change of pace….

  • Laura Culley

    GORGEOUS…mammals are cool, too and miss seeing many of those guys on a daily basis. Such GRACE!
    Thank you so much for my smile this morning!

  • Charlotte Norton

    Wow! What an amazing collection of animals and great shots of them. Of course, my favorites are the Fox.

    Charlotte

  • Philina

    Oh wow! The elk jumping the fence is stunning! You beautifully captured the power and elegance of that beastie. What a great way to start my day =)

  • Great images Ron. What a treat!

  • Dick Harlow

    Aaaah, what great shots and what fun you had on this outing!!
    I agree, these shots put a smile, no, a grin on my face this morning!
    I love birds, but I also love wildlife and it is really nice to wake up, turn on the computer, click your new post and there are these beautiful shots of “kids” playing, standing looking at you or gracefully clearing a barbed wire fence. Man, this is a great morning, so much better than hearing about false conspiracy theories.
    Thank you for making my day before it even gets started.

  • Beautiful pictures. Sure brings back memories of my trips to Idaho and Montana. I loved seeing these animals just “hanging out”.

  • Jean Haley

    What a treat..Thank you Ron. I enjoyed every pic!!

  • Judy Gusick

    Wonderful captures of the local wildlife! 🙂 ‘Tis the season for babies of all sorts and a fun time to watch them. The elk certainly is graceful – much preferable to the “fence crawlers” like whitetail deer that are hard on the fences. Ground squirrel certainly showing his rodent trade mark teeth! Hawks and eagles still brave some prairie dogs we have near by and occasionally get lucky. Glad you took the time to capture and share the mammals. 🙂

    • “Tis the season for babies of all sorts”

      It sure is, Judy. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen as many pronghorn fawns up there and there were lots of other types of youngsters out and about too.

  • Roger Burnard

    Ron, it continually amazes me that you find so many different species on your outing,
    and then, after finding them, you are able to capture such pleasing images. There are
    advantages to shooting from a vehicle, but there are also limitations. You have found
    a way to exploit the advantages, and overcome the limitations. Just “how” you do
    this is worthy of an article by you, or at least a list of “tips.” Thanks for another
    great series. ;-)))

    • There’s no secret as to how I do it, Roger. I just visit areas that have photo subjects I’m interested in and then spend incredible amounts of time trying to photograph them.

      You’re right that shooting from a vehicle has limitations, with both birds and with mammals, but I believe that in many instances the advantages outweigh the disadvantages if you’re willing to put in the time and effort.

  • Pat Tasonis

    I LOVE them!! It’s 5 a.m. and I’m already smiling! 🙂