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High Noon Session with the Sheep

It’s been a long time since I blogged about Bighorn Sheep so I made it a priority to find a group to photograph. I love working with Bighorn Sheep. When it comes to North American large mammals, Bighorn Sheep really are pretty simple to work with. Despite that, their behavioral characteristics are always interesting to watch.

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This small harem consisted of only a few Ewe’s, a couple kids and from what I saw five males. Odds are the rest of the group was up the ridge where I couldn’t see them. Once a day Bighorn Sheep come down for water and then spend most of the day grazing before going back up to the cooler temperatures. Bighorn Sheep have a certain temperature range that they thrive at. They really don’t like being where it’s warm, that’s why they stay up in the mountains. While they are down below grazing they are pretty easy to work because all they do is go back and forth and graze. What’s important is being patient and waiting for that moment when they turn their body, or bring their head up or do something more interesting then just grazing. Often times what gets them is a noise.

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This one Ewe actually was frozen looking up because of a helicopter that was going overhead. They didn’t seem to like that sound very much. The first time the rescue helicopter went overhead they all scattered back up the slope, this time they didn’t move as much. One of the main predators for sheep is the Golden Eagle, so naturally they spend a lot of time looking up. The whole time I was shooting this group I was hand holding the D4 and 200-400 VR which is my primary lens for large game. It allows for quick changes when the subject moves and provides enough space to show the environment in the composition. The one member that I was on the lookout for was the big ram which I found later on in the day but he was so high up that he never was really in a good place to photograph. Oh well. The rest of the sheep were plenty of entertainment until they had their fill and went back up the slope.

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