Prairie sky on fire

Sunset at Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge

What a consolation prize. This photo was taken last night in Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge. I, as usual, set out take pictures of wildlife. There was wildlife about, including three impressive white-tailed bucks bedded down in the lake bottom at the upper end of the Lake. Even on the way to the refuge I found mule deer bedded down in the upland east of the refuge. A small bachelor herd of about five mule deer were bedded down next to the road. I took some photographs of them but the light wasn’t great. The smallest of the bucks had a miss-formed left antler. The antler grew down along the animal’s face and eye and ended abruptly.  This wasn’t obvious until I got a good look at him, at first it looked as if he had no left antler at all.  After a while the herd stood and walked off.  I have never seen this before but the small buck with only one normal antler poked or goosed the largest buck in the rump with his good antler twice, causing the big buck to draw up his hind quarters and subsequently dart forward.  I wonder if that little fellow is going to use the same approach in the rut that will be in full swing in a month or so.  I wish him luck, what moxie!

I decided to try my luck near the upper end of the lake.  Walking in, I spooked 3 bucks out of the tall vegetation in the moist-soil management plots.  These white-tailed bucks were very skittish and ran fast and flagging in 3 different direction.  I sat for a while along a levy waiting for something to appear.  Coming up empty after time afield isn’t uncommon in terms of share-worthy pictures.  It does disappoint me that I can’t share all of what I see with you but I guess that is why I am constantly encouraging people to get outside.   Even before there was an inkling of a sunset I knew it would be a good one with the potential of a spectacular show.  I made my way back to the truck to swap out the long lens for one more appropriate for capturing the big Panhandle shy.  I wasn’t disappointed.  What a consolation prize the sunset turned out to be.  As usual, the photos do not capture the entire essence of the sunset but I think I have made some improvements in my landscape photographs.

5 thoughts on “Prairie sky on fire

  1. Ray
    I have been wondering about the whitetail rut at the refuge, you think its starting yet? I have always found the whitetail there to be unapproachable compared to the mulies. I did get an image of what I believe to be a crossbred but was told by the local biologist it was not.

    • Gary,

      I have noticed the same thing with the white-tailed deer there, very flighty. The bucks I saw were fairly close together and none are tending does of yet. I think we have a few more weeks before we see any serious behaviors associated with rut. I have found a few scrapes already however.


      Raymond S. Matlack, Ph.D Associate Professor of Biology and Director of Get Outside: Research and Education Initiative. West Texas A&M University Box 60808 Canyon, TX 79016

      P:806-651-2583 F:806-651-2928 Blog: Email: FaceBook Ray Matlack

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