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Bighorn Bonanza[Next Page - Contenders]
March 28, 2023

I have semi-reliable places to find bighorns, most recently Yellowstone's Lamar Valley where there are usually 2-4 rams grazing on the cliffs and hillside near Soda Butte. But the first place I saw Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep wasn't even in the Rockies, it was Custer State Park in 2008. I drove back to South Dakota last week to attend a retirement party, and of course I swung through the western South Dakota parks to see the wildlife. Because of snowstorms back home in Montana, my stay in South Dakota got extended and I was able to do the Custer State Park loop on four different days. Two outstanding memories will be the largest bighorn herd I've ever seen (44), and a cold fog that decorated the plants and animals with frost one morning.

On my first drive through Custer and the Badlands on the 21st, I set a personal record of 63 bighorns in one day. In Custer I saw a mixed herd of 33 east of the new visitor's center, 16 ewes and lambs on the lawn of the old Norbeck visitor's center, and two rams on Highway 87 far to the south. Then in the Badlands later in the day I saw two small herds of six each. On my return to Custer on Friday, I saw the herd of 44 next to and east of the new visitor's center. Some of them eventually took to the cliffs behind the building and I got a few good shots of them up there.

I saw an incredible variety of wildlife during the week and got photos of bison, pronghorn, deer, prairie dogs, plover, and turkeys. I saw but did not get good images of a large herd of elk (105) in the northern part of Custer where I have never seen them before, coyotes, a large hawk, and even an early bluebird. Also included on this trip was a stop at Devil's Tower in Wyoming for the first time in a few years.

I recently purchased a new DSLR, a Canon 6D Mark II. It is extremely similar to the 5D Mark III, and for the first time since film days 20+ years ago I have two SLRs at hand and don't have to spend so much time changing lenses. The 6D has a few more pixels and a few other handy features since the technology is five years newer, but the 5D is still extremely useful. For anyone who cares, on my web site photo pages the images taken with the 5D start with "F" and the 6D with "K", for example the first image below is "K1024". Maybe I'll get a mirrorless SLR-style camera someday, but for now I've still got the mirror slap.

I post a lot of bighorn images, maybe too many. I know this, but I do it because I can. Click on an image to get the slide show started at that point, 30 bighorn images and 26 others.

Bighorn in Custer State Park

Bighorn in Custer State Park

Bighorn in Custer State Park

Bison on a frosty morning in Custer State Park

Devil's Tower

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