Wyoming and Elk Refuge pictures

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Jan 22, 2008
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elmer, nj
:) warning! these threads contain many pictures with lots of snow! those faint of heart or very cold probably should refrain from viewing (smile)

that said, I've finally edited and uploaded the last of my pictures from my recent new mexico/wyoming trip. I sort of ran out of gas as far as taking lots of pictures once up north(west),
but I still ended up with quite a few. all images were taken with my little digital camera on higher resolution mode and though it was also set to 'panorama', you can tell that it has
a hard time keeping distant views in focus

I ended up staying in the bunkhouse of my sister's boyfriends' family ranch. We had a nice Christmas Eve dinner with the whole family and other ranchers from the surrounding area
and other friends and families. There was a ton of food which was all good (sorry I didn't get any leftover prime rib! :( ) and everyone was very nice. As usual, it was very cold, and a
few times there was well over a half foot of snow (it often was constantly drizzling snow in the mountains). I was quite happy that my sister's truck was four-wheel drive
(she calls two-wheel drive vehicles 'death traps' on wyoming roads ;) ), especially since the 'local form of pavement' is an ice-covered road with about a quarter-inch of sand on top
(another description by my sister :D ). 'you can go 55 on this in four wheel high, no problem!'... I heard this, but my eastern-trained driving reflexes wouldn't allow me to test it
out on the packed snow/icy roads, even with lots of sand on it! The ranch is located in Bondurant, Wyoming which is a very dispersed area with most of the few people living and
working on ranches. The Campbell ranch is the only land in the local area that has never been sold, since it was originally settled during the homesteading era and has
been in Campbell hands since the early 1900's. Bondurant is in the least-populated county in Wyoming, and Wyoming is the least-populated state in the U.S. .. so, if you want to
go someplace where you don't have to bump elbows with other people, this is a good place for you

Though very cold the first day or two I was there, there was enough humidity so that the trees were all covered with snow and ice like it was vanilla frosting. Each morning
before the sun would come out, trees and bushes would have a very thick coating of frost that was very beautiful.


view from the bunkhouse door where I was staying. shows some of the campbell ranch outbuildings
and some surrounding scenery. my sister told me that the wooden pole/chain structure that you can see
in the middle of the image was for scalding butchered pigs (removing the bristles from the outer surface
of the hide). a pig would be hung from the support and then lowered into a cauldron of boiling water


early morning frost; all frosty images are taken from the road between the campbell ranch
and my sister/boyfriends' cabin


frosty view showing a hay pile that will be used to feed calves later in the winter. this hay
needs to be fenced, or calves, elk, deer and antelope will eat freely from them. I learned that part
of the reason why the hay needs to be fenced, is that during early winter before the antelope and
mule deer migrate to their winter feeding grounds, if the hay is available the deer type animals might
hang out and try to live off of the hay alone, without eating any browse. some animals like deer and
antelope can't survive eating hay alone; they need forage to survive, and can literally starve to death
with a stomach full of hay. I heard about one of the local wildlife rangers talking about his adventures
trying to catch and/or feed stranded antelope and deer, and about how the animals would need to be led
to proper feed (or caught and carried). he tried to give some antelope hay and lead them down off of
their migration path that had been covered very early with too-deep snow, but they are so used to being
on their trail that it was very difficult to get them to go anywhere else. several starved before he was
able to beat a path to food using his snowmobile. game wardens in this area often take their jobs very
seriously and will go to great lengths to try and preserve the herds, if at all possible


animal tracks leading to the stream





view from cabin 'front yard'


merged view of the wind river range to the east of jackson hole and immediately north of the
Elk feeding grounds near the ranch

more in next thread reply!
part two

after a few days I went along to help feed the elk which had congregated at the nearby elk feeding grounds. it was a beautiful, sunny day which doesn't often happen in winter in upstate ny! it was very cool being on a horse-drawn sleigh, and to be in the midst of a herd of elk! as long as you are on the sleigh, the elk will stay maybe forty yards away or so. if you were to hop off the sleigh while out in the feeding area, they would scatter. one of the interesting things about elk is that though other similar animals like deer and antelope can't live completely off of hay, elk can. at the national elk wildlife refuge over in jackson, wy. they do sometimes feed them alfalfa pellets if there isn't enough forage

there is a definite routine to feeding the elk. first you clean up the yard where the horses have been kept (if there isn't snow to be cleaned out from in front of the gates), stick a bar under each rail of the sleigh to make sure that they aren't frozen down, bring the team out and tie them to the fence, hook up their harnesses, hook them to the sleigh, line up alongside the huge stacks of piled hay bales, drop and load bales on the sleigh, drive out to the feeding area doing a loop and dropping bale pieces, returning to the setup area and drop a few more bales so that the elk will trample the snow down, unhook the team, take off the harnesses, give them some hay, start up the pump and fill the water tank complete with propane-driven water heater, make sure pump pipe is clear of water and then head back home on the snowmobile


view of the Little Jenny Ranch over the hill from part of the campbell ranch and across from the elk feeding grounds


snowmobile trail leading up the valley to feeding grounds buildings; you can see snowmobile heading up the trail


sister and boyfriend hooking the team (Smokey and Ed) up to the sleigh


boyfriends' working dog Zack; he was pictured in fall bondurant snowy pictures. zack is either tri-color border collie or part border collie and australian shepherd. zack loves to run, and will run alongside the snowmobile on both the road and the snowmobile trail even if it's going at high speed! if you slow down too much on the road (while on snowmobile), he will run circles around the sled, literally!


the team with elk in the distant foreground. Ed is on the left, and Smokey on the right. they always get hooked up in the same order and the same side of the sleigh. they also like to GO! and if you stand around too long, they decide to not wait any longer and start moving on their own


elk waiting up in the trees along the open feeding area


elk awaiting hay


sister driving the team; boyfriend is on back chopping bale strings and dropping the hay behind the sleigh


Smokey, Ed, Kevin, Joy and Zack


after the first days' feeding, I decided I needed some exercise (did lots of eating down in new mexico and the christmas eve dinner!), so walked back down the snowmobile trail to the truck while the other two were finishing things up. it was a beautiful day maybe even warmer than 20˚F, sun was out, the snow crystals were glistening and had mountain views all around! the trail was well-packed so it was easy to walk. part-way down the trail, I saw this set of tracks probably from a snowshoe hare. was very beautiful, peaceful and quiet, and wanted to sit down and just look at things for a while but I had about a mile walk all in all and needed to keep moving before the snowmobile came along

more in reply thread
part three

much of wyoming is ranch territory. sublette county where bondurant is located has many ranches, and it isn't unusual to see cattle in fields or woods along the road, or heading down the road from one feeding ground to the next. at the two parts of the campbell ranch, each day in winter involves feeding calves from a sleigh with loose hay plucked from a huge stack with a hay digger and then distributed in a loop through the cattle feeding area just like at the elk feeding grounds. afterwards the water holes have to be chopped free of ice and the other horses have to be fed and the sleigh team unhooked and fed. if it's really cold, the hay digger engine has to be warmed a bit with a propane torch. also the ice gets really thick when it's really cold and chunks have to be removed so that more time passes before the ice freezes over again. it definitely is a lot of hard work, and there aren't a lot of people around who are willing to do this sort of work on a regular basis


view of sister and boyfriends' cabin plus this half of the ranch (calves, horses, outbuildings and feeding areas)
hay digger front left of picture, left of huge pile of hay


near end of the loop road that the campbell ranch is on; sign has good advice!
there are buildings to the right of the picture and where the campbell brother rides his snowmobile
each morning to take care of that half of the herd


morning after my flight back home was canceled due to an arriving plane going off end of runway; I went
out to help sister's boyfriend feed calves, walked out into the feeding area


closeup of one of the calves; this one wasn't too afraid of me. if one cow starts running, however, they all will take off! :eek: (which did happen...)


when I was driving to my sister's (their cabin back right), I became surrounded by this herd of cattle! I was going to back up, but the owner just waved at me to pull over, and they just went right by me. they lead the herd by loading the back of a large tractor with a large round of hay (hungry cattle will follow), and then someone helps stragglers along behind with a pickup truck


huge collection of large hay rounds on part of the little jenny ranch grounds, with mountains in background


sister's boyfriend driving team back down alley before loading up hay


charles driving the team! after my flight was canceled I had more opportunity to feed the elk. on the last few days I was shown how to hook up the team in more detail, and allowed to drive the team around the feeding grounds through the elk after we had loaded up with hay. this was pretty cool, and the horses actually paid attention to me. kevin took a few pictures while I was holding the reins, and it's funny that horses will hem and haw and look goofy just like people do when someone is taking their picture. :D if it looks to you like it's very cold out in the picture, then you are right!


picture taken from hay shelter, on top of hay stack. elk are within forty yards while the two of us were loading hay onto the sleigh, watching the whole thing including zack the border collie. they know that they are about to be fed and aren't in any danger, so they tolerate our presence


bull elk waiting at the head of the line to get hay

I had a great time in wyoming as well as earlier in new mexico and wish that I could have stayed longer in each place. I did go skiing for half a day at the teton village ski resort, went to the wildlife art museum in jackson and over the teton pass to check out where my sister used to live and have a cafe, and saw bighorn sheep near the road in one spot where they were scratching around for grass, but didn't get any other pictures. there was so much to see and I'd been seeing so much for the past few weeks I just wanted to enjoy it.
I hope you all enjoyed these pictures, I definitely enjoyed being there and seeing all of it
Wow- Charles,that was a very stunning presentation! The scenery is magestic and so vast! Very cool to see!! Wyoming is really beautiful, and it is heart-warming to see the care put into the Elk Refuge. Thank you so much for showing us!