I got so excited about seeing California Bighorn Sheep on the Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge I forgot that the main purpose of my visit was to see and take photographs of Antelope or Pronghorn. We saw plenty of them on our three-day visit. Both far away in big herds and close up in small groups. They are beautiful animals with an exotic look that makes you think of the gazelle and antelope of Africa. In a way they were left behind when most of the animals that they evolved with died out. They would fit right in on the African plains. They evolved thousands of years ago when two species of cheetah hunted in North America. With the disappearance of the cheetah in North America there is no predator left alive here that can run down a healthy adult Pronghorn. They can run at bursts fo 60 miles per hour and maintain speeds of 45 miles per hour for up to an hour.
Abandoned places make wonderful subjects for photographers. I am attracted to them like everyone else. Especially the old homesteads that can be found scattered across the Great Basin. As you pick your way through old sites you wonder: Who lived here? What was it like with just the wind and meadowlarks keeping you company day after day? The nearest neighbor might be as far away as forty miles over bad road. What finally happened to make you pick up and leave?
On a recent trip to Eastern Oregon I found two such places and in one case was lucky enough to have some clouds race by for some of the photos. Black and white seems to suit this type of picture. I am not much of a poet but was inspired to write a little poem thinking about these forlorn and lonely places. They stand alone while the elements work on wiping them off the landscape.
This is a Nonet. Only nine lines with the first having nine syllables and subtracting a syllable for each line thereafter. Rhyming is optional too.
Waiting for them to come back as if
They never left you in the wind
and brutal sun to shoulder
Winter’s heavy snows year
after year for them
You wait until
you give in
I just got back from spending three glorious days on the Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge in Eastern Oregon. My cousin from Bend met me in Plush which acted as our base camp. The Refuge was wonderful and teeming with wildlife. We were extremely lucky to run into a herd of California Bighorn Rams before we even got to the Refuge proper. There were about 17 rams altogether hanging out at lower elevations near water. We were able to get quite close to them and take some photographs. We ran into this same herd on the way back to Plush.
The Hart Mountain California Bighorn herds have been used to repopulate Bighorn Sheep in many areas of Oregon and the west where the sheep have disappeared or are in decline. It was a thrill to see them up close like this.
The landscape photo shows you the terrain we found the Sheep hanging out in.
Hope you enjoy the photos as well.