Timing is everything and we just didn't have it yesterday! Mary called at 8am just as we were getting ready to feed the animals to tell us Wyoming Game and Fish were on their way to her place with the chopper. They just had to collar some elk on Heart Mountain first and they would be at her ranch within the hour. We hurried through the feeding and jumped in the car to go see the action. It takes almost a half hour to get to Mary and Luis' ranch even though it is just a few miles from us as the crow flies. In my opinion their place is one of the most beautiful in the world and I am so happy they are adamant about protecting the land and wildlife. The weather has warmed up some but it is always colder near the river and the wind was starting to pick up just a little. We decided to climb a steep hill across from the house to get a better seat for the event. The view was unbelievable. We could see one herd of several hundred elk grazing in Mary's pasture and their presence in front of the mountains and the river was simply breathtaking. There was another smaller herd of about 100 just to the south in another of their pastures. The very light icing of snow on the ground changed the colors of everything. It looked like Mother Nature had placed a piece of organza on the land. To give a little perspective - in the picture to the left there are a half dozen elk in the front right side. These are not small animals so you can get some idea of the expanse. At one point a pack of coyotes started howling in the distance. Then another pack answered them from behind our location. Even though the scene was remarkably peaceful and relaxing we decided after almost two hours that we had better go back to the house to warm up. It was obvious something had delayed the helicopter. We had a cup of tea but decided to head back home as it was approaching lunchtime. Just as we walked in our front door the phone rang. It was Mary saying the chopper had arrived and they were capturing elk. She described a scene of total chaos with animals scattering in all directions. The men from G&F decided to zero in on the smaller herd and had flown low enough to drop a net over several individuals. Then one fellow jumped out of the aircraft and tranquilized the captured animals so they could apply the GPS tracking collars. In retrospect, I think it was better to remember the peaceful view from atop the hill rather than the madness that followed.
Simply driving out of our place is often an experience as we get to view quite a bit of wildlife within a few miles of our house. The pronghorn travel in groups this time of year and these two are part of a small herd that is grazing the BLM land next to us. Between getting to see them and seeing the elk herds I feel like the drive to Mary's was worth it even though we missed out on the main event!