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Photography of some Western wildlife, no-trail hiking.





ocalhoun
So, I went hiking out on the plains yesterday, taking pictures as I went of the more interesting parts (until the camera battery died).

I find that staying away from the paths and trails that others use leads you to much more interesting stuff, and that belief just got validated again.

First interesting thing I come across:
On the other side of a creek, there's a buffalo sleeping:

So, I go a little closer:

Getting closer woke it up:

They're normally very docile, but I don't want to find out what happens when you make one mad (they're huge... they are to cows what mammoths were to elephants), so I won't get any closer, instead just taking one zoomed-in shot and going along my way:


Then, a couple things from the creek itself:
First, here's a fossil in the making... I wonder if somebody will dig it up millions of years later:

Then, some birds that build nests made of mud, which I didn't know existed on this continent:

They must be pretty safe, so far up on the cliff:

Some fossilized shells... strange for them to be all the way out in South Dakota; they must be very old indeed.


Then, I spot an eagle's nest in a tree up ahead (the scale is deceptive, since everything in the picture is big... that tree is too big to wrap your arms around, and the nest is almost twice as big around):

The nest is huge, made not of twigs, but of large sticks, so these must be some big birds:

A little bit of listening leads me to look upwards; I can hear the eagle's call screaming up there... It's very distinct:

There's two of them... I don't know if they're calling to each other, or complaining about how close I am to their nest, but they're making a LOT of noise way up there (no doubt striking terror into all the small animals nearby):


I'm guessing that this is the rare golden eagle, which I've heard is sometimes seen in this area. Anybody with good knowledge of birds of prey, please confirm or correct me... I guess it could be some kind of huge hawk:


Speaking of hawks...
I was looking to take a break under this shade tree, but seeing two big hawks with their nest in it dissuaded me from getting too close... I don't know how protective they are of their nest, but that's another thing I'm not keen on finding out the hard way:

It's watching me:


The one that was watching me was chased off by some smaller birds, but I saw it again:
I didn't notice it at first, until I was about to walk too close, and it puffed itself up, trying to defend its kill from me:

I don't know what its protecting... but I wonder if it might be one of those birds that was chasing it off Twisted Evil :

I go around it on that slope above it, and at first it seems I went far enough around:

I take advantage of the fact that it doesn't notice me to get a better picture:

Then, it notices me again, and makes with the angry face:

I get one more good picture (it's a rare opportunity, after all) and then leave it alone:


Then, on the way back, I find a rusted out old truck... 50's to 60's I'm guessing?
Anyway, a liquor bottle found inside says 'federal law prohibits sale or re-use of this bottle'. The law requiring bottles to say that was repealed in 1964, so it has probably been out here for at least that long:





As you've all probably figured out already, any truck in this condition MUST have a broken tricycle inside Rolling Eyes :



Under the hood:

Inside I find a couple of unbroken bottles... These might sell well on e-bay:

They won't bring in much, but it will offset the cost of driving out here. A bottle of liquor with the cap still on, and a syrup bottle. Sadly, the coke bottle inside was broken, they're especially valuable:


The last interesting thing I found before my camera's batteries died is another buffalo:
This one was out in the middle of an open field, so I definitely didn't want this one to get into a charging mood; there was nowhere to run:

This is as close as I was brave enough to get (picture taken with no zoom, no cropping):

The best close-up shot I could get:


My camera has been taking lower and lower quality pictures since it got smashed in my jeep accident... And the battery seems to have suspiciously low life... I'm getting a new one (same model, but upgraded) to replace it soon, so picture quality will improve then.

So, what do you think? I wish I had a better camera already... some very good photo opportunities were ruined by a mediocre camera.
tingkagol
Great set. It's amazing how you've been able to come across a couple of exotic animals. I'm a bit of a coward when it comes to exploring- I always think I'll come across snakes or hoodlums.
And how the hell did a junk jeep & bike end up in the middle of nowhere? The story behind that must be really interesting (and funny).

By the way, somewhere in between your hike you had to take a sh**, right? Razz

Alone in the outdoors + desolated/isolated scenery = funny stomach. want. to. poop.
SpellcasterDX
Nice pics. The quality isn't that bad.
jabce85
nice pictures! looks like an interesting little hike, ha.. south dakota really is something to see
ocalhoun
tingkagol wrote:
Great set. It's amazing how you've been able to come across a couple of exotic animals. I'm a bit of a coward when it comes to exploring- I always think I'll come across snakes or hoodlums.

No snakes that day... but most of the dangerous ones in this area are rattlesnakes, and as long as you listen for the rattle and move away from it, you're pretty safe from them.
As for hoodlums...
1- I didn't see any other human the whole day... the most sign of recent civilization I found was one boot print in the mud, at least a week old.
2- I carry a nice knife and a hatchet. Twisted Evil Bring it on, hoodlums! I would carry a pistol as well (both for defense and survival small-game hunting) but the dorm I live in right now doesn't allow firearms.) If somebody attacked me out there, and I won, they wouldn't survive. I would be long gone before anybody found the body, and nobody knew I was out there.
tingkagol wrote:

And how the hell did a junk jeep & bike end up in the middle of nowhere? The story behind that must be really interesting (and funny).

Probably dumped there. The truck (not a jeep) had no frame attached, so it was probably stripped down before being left there.
tingkagol wrote:

By the way, somewhere in between your hike you had to take a sh**, right? Razz

Alone in the outdoors + desolated/isolated scenery = funny stomach. want. to. poop.

I carry supplies enough for 24 hours, (food and water, and all the necessities) I also carry purification tabs for 3 months worth of water, and I would bring a pistol (loaded with shot-shell) for hunting more food, except for the aforementioned reason. I also carry a small fishing kit (everything except a rod, which isn't really needed anyway), and fire-starting materials.
If, for some reason, I had to survive out there for a long time though, I might be in trouble... I didn't see any sign of fish in that water... I think it was too silty, and without the ability to hunt small game, I'd be stuck with trying to forage there, which isn't very hopeful. So, you can see, I'm prepared for that possibility.

And I might ask... why would isolated scenery mess up your stomach?

SpellcasterDX wrote:
Nice pics. The quality isn't that bad.

Really, it is. Compared to what I used to be able to do with that camera.

jabce85 wrote:
nice pictures! looks like an interesting little hike, ha.. south dakota really is something to see

I didn't think so when I first found out I'd be going here, but now I do.
deanhills
It's almost like being on the outing ourselves, really liked the photos, thanks Ocalhoun. The ones I particularly enjoyed were the ones of the buffalo, all alone! Was this a loner? Awesome animal. The shots of the golden eagle are pretty amazing. I have not seen shots of an eagle in the grass before and it really looked fierce.
bigt
Yes, great pictures. Thanks for sharing them.
lethaltriad
love the pics and it looked like quite the adventure, glad you could have such a day out and still be safe. That old car looks really cool/vintage. Would love it down here for a photoshoot Very Happy
andysart380
i would love more than anything to take my camera out there and just go nuts....
ocalhoun
andysart380 wrote:
i would love more than anything to take my camera out there and just go nuts....

Why not? Or, at least find a 'similar' area somewhere around yourself... Though depending on where you live, it may be too civilized for that.
(But even if you don't carry a full survival kit like I do, at least carry water and a first aid kit - a real one, not a band-aid box...)
lethaltriad wrote:
That old car looks really cool/vintage. Would love it down here for a photoshoot Very Happy

Try looking in deserted areas around you in google maps... you might spot one you could hike to if you try. It would take a lot of searching, but it would be easier to look for one that way than on foot.
deanhills wrote:
It's almost like being on the outing ourselves, really liked the photos, thanks Ocalhoun. The ones I particularly enjoyed were the ones of the buffalo, all alone! Was this a loner? Awesome animal.

Yeah, this one was alone... I wouldn't approach a heard that closely. The herds around there are usually less than 10 anyway, but sometimes you see one on its own like that. They tend to bunch up more in winter to save warmth.
deanhills wrote:

The shots of the golden eagle are pretty amazing. I have not seen shots of an eagle in the grass before and it really looked fierce.

The one in the grass was a hawk, not an eagle... and I'm starting to doubt about the ones in the sky... There was a huge nest, and they were big birds, and the certainly sounded like eagles, but the pictures I can find of golden eagles are all darker colored than that... Perhaps they're adapted to that location, where there's a lot of exposed sand and white clay, by having lighter coloring?
tingkagol
ocalhoun wrote:
And I might ask... why would isolated scenery mess up your stomach?

I don't know. I assumed it happens to most people. As a kid, I played a lot of hide and seek and when I ventured through the woods it always gives my stomach that immense appetite / sensation to poop. But I think it's just from the excitement of being alone in the middle of nowhere. Maybe I need to do some more exploring so I'd get used to it.

Quote:
I carry a nice knife and a hatchet.

Thought so. I would've thought you could either be the bravest or most idiotic person to venture out without any sort of protection. Smile

So I guess you're skilled with the knife? Or is it just for intimidation?

Quote:
If somebody attacked me out there, and I won, they wouldn't survive. I would be long gone before anybody found the body, and nobody knew I was out there.

Are you serious? Shocked
ocalhoun
tingkagol wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
And I might ask... why would isolated scenery mess up your stomach?

I don't know. I assumed it happens to most people. As a kid, I played a lot of hide and seek and when I ventured through the woods it always gives my stomach that immense appetite / sensation to poop. But I think it's just from the excitement of being alone in the middle of nowhere. Maybe I need to do some more exploring so I'd get used to it.

Uh, are you sure that's not just fear?

tingkagol wrote:

Quote:
I carry a nice knife and a hatchet.

Thought so. I would've thought you could either be the bravest or most idiotic person to venture out without any sort of protection. Smile

So I guess you're skilled with the knife? Or is it just for intimidation?

The knife would be more for intimidation and as a backup. The hatchet is a much better weapon. It can cut and smash through bones. A knife slash or stab has to be in just the right place to stop a person... but a good hit with the hatchet in almost any body part would stop someone in their tracks. It also has a longer reach...
Quote:

Quote:
If somebody attacked me out there, and I won, they wouldn't survive. I would be long gone before anybody found the body, and nobody knew I was out there.

Are you serious? Shocked

Well, yes.
Scenario 1:
Kill the attacker. Maybe the body gets found months later, and the police start an investigation. They never identify the killer. Even if they do somehow connect me with it, the evidence will be weak, and there will be no witnesses. I could claim he has fibers from my shirt on him because I met him earlier that day, he was fine when I left him... Leaving 'reasonable doubt' that will let me off with a 'not guilty' in any criminal trial.
Scenario 2:
Injure the attacker and drive him off. The attacker later files a police report, they go on a man-hunt. The attacker then gives eye witness testimony that I attacked him unprovoked.

Which one is preferable?
Afaceinthematrix
That was a decent hiking location (near or in the Badlands, I presume?). The fauna was relatively nice although I must admit that I am much more into flora when choosing hiking locations.
ocalhoun
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
That was a decent hiking location (near or in the Badlands, I presume?).

Good guess.
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
The fauna was relatively nice although I must admit that I am much more into flora when choosing hiking locations.

Yeah, I doubt that I saw more than 8 varieties of plants the whole day...
Afaceinthematrix
ocalhoun wrote:
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
That was a decent hiking location (near or in the Badlands, I presume?).

Good guess.


Well I know that you do live in South Dakota so it was narrowed down, and I have seen pictures of the badlands and that does look like something that may be there... So that's why I guessed the badlands.


ocalhoun wrote:
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
The fauna was relatively nice although I must admit that I am much more into flora when choosing hiking locations.

Yeah, I doubt that I saw more than 8 varieties of plants the whole day...


I do love seeing fauna... I have seen quite a lot of megafauna. Seeing fauna is cool. I, however, always choose locations based on the flora because you can always count on it being there. You cannot always count on fauna being there (unless you go hiking in a zoo).
ocalhoun
Afaceinthematrix wrote:


I do love seeing fauna... I have seen quite a lot of megafauna. Seeing fauna is cool. I, however, always choose locations based on the flora because you can always count on it being there. You cannot always count on fauna being there (unless you go hiking in a zoo).

Ah, but that's what makes finding it special!
tingkagol
ocalhoun wrote:
tingkagol wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
And I might ask... why would isolated scenery mess up your stomach?

I don't know. I assumed it happens to most people. As a kid, I played a lot of hide and seek and when I ventured through the woods it always gives my stomach that immense appetite / sensation to poop. But I think it's just from the excitement of being alone in the middle of nowhere. Maybe I need to do some more exploring so I'd get used to it.

Uh, are you sure that's not just fear?

I'm definitely sure it has nothing to do with fear.

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:
If somebody attacked me out there, and I won, they wouldn't survive. I would be long gone before anybody found the body, and nobody knew I was out there.

Are you serious? Shocked

Well, yes.
Scenario 1:
Kill the attacker. Maybe the body gets found months later, and the police start an investigation. They never identify the killer. Even if they do somehow connect me with it, the evidence will be weak, and there will be no witnesses. I could claim he has fibers from my shirt on him because I met him earlier that day, he was fine when I left him... Leaving 'reasonable doubt' that will let me off with a 'not guilty' in any criminal trial.
Scenario 2:
Injure the attacker and drive him off. The attacker later files a police report, they go on a man-hunt. The attacker then gives eye witness testimony that I attacked him unprovoked.

Which one is preferable?

Man, that is cold. But I do get you. It's so easy to be naive and talk about human morals when we're just sitting in front of our pcs in our suburban homes, but I can only imagine how it feels to be in that scenario. There must be really something carnal/animalistic about two strangers accidentally meeting in the middle of nowhere, don't you think?

That said, still I don't think I have the guts to kill anyone.
Afaceinthematrix
ocalhoun wrote:
Afaceinthematrix wrote:


I do love seeing fauna... I have seen quite a lot of megafauna. Seeing fauna is cool. I, however, always choose locations based on the flora because you can always count on it being there. You cannot always count on fauna being there (unless you go hiking in a zoo).

Ah, but that's what makes finding it special!


Well seeing megafauna is pretty special. I will never forget the cougar that I saw once while hiking. Neither will I forget the 5 ft. rattlesnake that was coiled up rattling at me. Nor will I forget any of the other hundreds of animals that I've seen. I do enjoy seeing animals, but I tend to choose my locations based on flora.
ocalhoun
Afaceinthematrix wrote:


Well seeing megafauna is pretty special. I will never forget the cougar that I saw once while hiking. Neither will I forget the 5 ft. rattlesnake that was coiled up rattling at me. Nor will I forget any of the other hundreds of animals that I've seen. I do enjoy seeing animals, but I tend to choose my locations based on flora.

Oh, I see. I usually choose locations based on terrain... Like, 'it would be fun to follow along that river', or 'that mountain would make a good goal to work towards'. (Having a huge, unmistakable landmark to walk towards greatly simplifies navigation, as does following a river, for that matter.)
tingkagol wrote:
There must be really something carnal/animalistic about two strangers accidentally meeting in the middle of nowhere, don't you think?

Well, that, and since I consider myself a horse, I have no more problem with harming humans than I would with any other animal... If it is attacking me, I'm going to kill it (or maybe run away ^.^).

I think the carnal/animalistic factor you speak of is really the lack of influence by all human society and law.
Afaceinthematrix
ocalhoun wrote:
Afaceinthematrix wrote:


Well seeing megafauna is pretty special. I will never forget the cougar that I saw once while hiking. Neither will I forget the 5 ft. rattlesnake that was coiled up rattling at me. Nor will I forget any of the other hundreds of animals that I've seen. I do enjoy seeing animals, but I tend to choose my locations based on flora.

Oh, I see. I usually choose locations based on terrain... Like, 'it would be fun to follow along that river', or 'that mountain would make a good goal to work towards'. (Having a huge, unmistakable landmark to walk towards greatly simplifies navigation, as does following a river, for that matter.)


I have often done that, especially in places where it's extremely dense forest that's easy to get lost in. But I have recently updated in technology and gotten a GPS unit that really simplifies navigation out (of course it's still not perfect).
ocalhoun
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
gotten a GPS unit that really simplifies navigation out (of course it's still not perfect).

Maybe I should...
Then again, my $3 compass and free map do okay as well.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Got my new camera now!
Now I can take un-blurry pictures without the image stabilization mode, even when zooming in!
A couple from this weekend's hike in the black hills:
The creek I followed up to its source, before heading back to the road by compass direction only. A very nice place, except for the flies:

A strange looking flower along the way:


Much better quality, and much more dependable quality... no throwing away 5 shots just because they are blurred.
Afaceinthematrix
That's pretty good quality on your new camera. I really want to invest in a camera (I'm thinking a cannon xsi or something) even though they are expensive. My current camera doesn't do too well in picture quality. That scenery is also nice. It's better than your last destination.
driftingfe3s
Wow, you got to see quite a lot on that outing and you were able to get some really great photographs. I'd love to go on a day out like that with my camera, it would be so fun exploring like that!
ocalhoun
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
That's pretty good quality on your new camera. I really want to invest in a camera (I'm thinking a cannon xsi or something) even though they are expensive. My current camera doesn't do too well in picture quality.

May I suggest one like I got, waterproof and shockproof? Pretty much only available in point-and-shoot, and a little more expensive... but you can take them anywhere and (barring being in a truck that falls off a cliff) they'll last a long time. Mine gets attached to the top of a walking stick, so it's always quickly available. You have to have a tough camera to do that though, or it won't last long.
If only they made a ruggedized SLR... That would be the perfect camera!
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
That scenery is also nice. It's better than your last destination.

Better on a small scale, yes, but it lacks the grandeur of the hilly, open plains near the badlands.
(It's also hotter, muggier, less windy, and more filled with biting flies...)
driftingfe3s wrote:
Wow, you got to see quite a lot on that outing and you were able to get some really great photographs. I'd love to go on a day out like that with my camera, it would be so fun exploring like that!

So go do it! Don't waste your life.
(If you go into a wilderness area like that though, at least bring water and first aid.)
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