Sheep Sunday

Bighorn Sheep during the rut.
Bighorn Sheep rut in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

The bighorn sheep rut is underway here in Colorado. Having skipped bighorn photography in 2019, I’m back on task this year.

The rut begins mid-October and usually runs through late December. In a typical year, I’d get several thousand photos over the course of the photography season. I’m not sure where I’ll be this year with actual photo outings but my hope is to make at least 3-4 trips into the high country before the season ends.

I get a bit of a chuckle out of photographing bighorn, as they aren’t all that difficult a subject from a logistical standpoint; but, I’ve been told by folks that they imagine me hiking around in the mountain wilderness packing camera gear and stalking the animals like I was Jeremiah Johnson or something to that effect. The truth is, they aren’t that difficult to photograph. Most of my photography is done from roadsides. It’s just a question of driving around until I find a herd in a photographable position and then watching and waiting for decent shots. I don’t care to pretend I’m some intrepid mountain man, when in truth, most of my time is spent behind the wheel of my vehicle sipping coffee and listening to music while I look for them. I see no reason to be pretentious about it.

My favorite approach is to wait until the day after a snow storm to make a trip. I can normally be on the animals within 45 minutes and seldom spend more than three hours looking for and photographing these wild critters. When it snows, the bighorn will normally come down from the higher elevations to find suitable grass to graze on and they have a propensity to move into areas close to humans along the roadsides. They like southern facing hills with grassy areas at the base where the snow tends to melt off more quickly.

I’ll be watching the weather reports and responding accordingly. Stay tuned, there will be sheep.