I have lived in the wonderful state of Wyoming for the last six years. Aside from the 75 mph blinding winter wind and the summer thunderstorms that can produce quarter to baseball size hail and possible tornadoes, it’s a refreshing place to live. We lived in Cheyenne, which isn’t the prettiest part of Wyoming. In fact, some people would call it the “armpit” of Wyoming. But she has her beauty too in her historic landmarks and small-town atmosphere. Not to mention the yearly ten-day shindig of a rodeo aptly named Cheyenne Frontier Days. 🙂
We’re an 8-ish hour drive from Yellowstone National Park and approximately a 5-hour drive from Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills, Deadwood, and the Badlands. But to the south is Denver, Colorado our closest major city at only an hour and a half drive. There’s not a whole lot for 50 miles in each direction. But that’s okay because I like the slower pace and the open western blue skies. You’ve never seen skies this blue in all your life.
But you know what my favorite part of living here has been? Seeing these gorgeous creatures outside my window every, single day.
The pronghorn, also called antelope, are a strange breed of creatures. They’re the fastest land animal in North America. Their hair is hollow (which isn’t great because it holds in the animal’s natural stinky odor), but it provides a great defense against predators because it comes out in clumps if you touch it. Mind you, it’s illegal to touch wildlife, but when they run into fences, you can see big puffs of hair fly on impact.
They have horns, not antlers, but unlike most horned animals, they shed their horns every year around Thanksgiving time. This makes for a funny spectacle because their skulls have two protrusions on top that hold the horns, so they look like they have little devil spikes. The horn is hollow so it slides right off come the end of November.
The coolest part about their horns is…they’re made of hair. Yup. The horn’s texture is rough and you can see the fine hairs that make up the composition of the horn around the base of it. I’ve found the horn sheds on base. It’s the craziest thing.
Also, a side note, the females can grow horns too, although they don’t often get as big or impressive as the buck’s horns. The way you tell the males and females apart is by the dark patch on the jaw. Only bucks have the dark patch highlighting their jaw.
Out on the plains, the pronghorns will run as soon as you get within 500 yards of them. They’re skittish and jumpy and fast as hell. They have amazing eyesight, and if you even attempt to slow down to get a good look at them, they take off.
There’s only one place where you can get a good, up close and personal look at the pronghorns. F. E. Warren AFB in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It is the only place in the country to have a nearly domesticated pronghorn herd. I live on the base and see these crazy critters every single day.
In fact, one of my favorite hobbies in the late spring and summer time is to drive around the base and take pictures of the herds. The best time is the end of May, beginning of June when they start having their babies.
They are the cutest little ball of fluffs you’ve ever seen. Pronghorn aren’t very big. Probably the size of a donkey. So these little lopiedopes, as my daughter likes to call them, are smaller than your average dog.
They should be having their babies any day now, and I’m so excited to photograph them one last time.
The bucks are so much fun to watch. Every one of them has unique horns. So it’s one of my games to see how many different bucks I can photograph. We compare their horns then. I like when they’re wide and tall, but there are many that have narrow horns. The curl is also a fun little quirk to notice between them all.
I love showing off the fantastic images I’ve captured of these beautiful animals. When we finally leave Wyoming, I will miss them.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my little wildlife lesson and the photographs. I know it has nothing to do with writing. But it does tell you a lot about my love for photography, wildlife, and my appreciation for the wild Wyoming home I had the privilege to call home for the last six years.
Please feel free to leave a comment or a question if you have one. I look forward to hearing from you! 🙂
Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.
All my love,