(Not So) Bighorn Sheep

I’ve been hoofin it lately to get the pictures of Yellowstone’s big boys post processed and uploaded to the Smugmug galleries (link here).  This particular set posed a bit of a problem due to the noise that came from the high ISO they were shot at.  If I remember correctly, all but the last shot here was taken the first day we were in Yellowstone and has the distinction of being the second animal we encountered out there (and reason why it was selected as the second post of the large mammal series).  Giselle and David were with us that morning and they actually alerted us to the spot where we found this specimen.

They had a similar encounter on a previous outing out there.  As predicted, we found this particular one taking a stroll along the rocky slopes.  I was eager to try out the Beast but to be honest was still trying to get comfortable with it.  As a result I overcompensated with the ISO on a few of the shots to address a dreary (and cold) morning.  This left some extra post processing to get rid of the additional noise and draw out some extra clarity/sharpness.  Most importantly, it gave me a chance to get some practice shots off  before we entered the heart of Yellowstone.  These first two are definitely my favorites of the set since you can quickly distinguish the animal from the  background.

Hit the Jump to view the rest of the shots

It just occurred to me I didn’t mention what you are looking at.  In case you live a sheltered life or haven’t driven by a Dodge dealership, these are shots of Bighorn Sheep.  Unfortunately, our subject doesn’t really sport the large curved horns of the ram.  It is difficult to tell if this is a juvenile or a female (ewe), but due to its size and it’s almost identical matches to images found on the web, I’m going with a female (ewe).  It is easy to distinguish the rams with their impressive horns which can weigh up to 30 pounds.  If you recall from the Pronghorn post (link here), we do not have the same volume of reference materials on the larger animals that we do on our feathered friends.  So once again, we turn to the trusty Wikipedia for interesting facts to share.  Take for instance that the rams can weigh upwards of 300 pounds with the ewes coming in around the 180 mark.   Quite impressive for animals able to deftly navigate the treacherous mountainsides.  Speaking of their habitat, they have adapted well (taking the evolution route here) to their environment and can blend nicely to their surroundings.  Case in point:

Now their rump is a different story being heavily white.  After a few days in the park, we basically just scanned the mountainsides trying  to detect any white movement in the distance.  Seems like a cruel joke to be that well camouflaged except in the ass.  Kind of reminds me of the “Bummer of a Birthmark” Farside comic.  Theory is the white allows other sheep to follow the lead animal to safety.  I say safety is only defined as being the animal in the lead!  This particular female didn’t seem to be too concerned about predators as she traversed up and down the slopes.

Hey, let’s bring that in a little…zoooooooooom.  There she is.

By the way, I wonder if any of them suffer from acrophobia or if that bad gene was effectively weeded out of their pool by entries above them on the food chain?  Speaking of predators, their dominant ones are cougars who possess similar mobility in the high terrain.  Bears and wolves round out the enemies for the mature sheep but their lambs are victims to smaller animals including bobcats and golden eagles.  Guessing a wolf is going to think twice about taking on a healthy 300 pound ram with 30 pound horns unless it is REALLY hungry.

Don’t be too concerned about their survival these days.  Thanks in part to a youth organization, this animal now enjoys least concern conservation status.  Turns out that Frederick Russell Burnham sounded the alarm to help these animals back in 1936 when their population had dwindled into the 150’s in the Arizona region.  Pop quiz.  Do any of you know who Mr. Burnham is?  tick tock tick tock tick tock.  The answer is (in my best condescending Alex Trebek voice) “Oh so sorry, that would ooooobviously be “Who is the Father of the Boy Scout Organization”  (obvious in the sense you have the answer on a note card Alex.. sorry.. I digress).  Definitely something I didn’t know and if you knew it congratulations!  (now do you remember where your keys are hehehe).  As a parting shot, here is another specimen we located later in the week.  Not one of my best shots, but figured I’d throw it out there for your viewing pleasure.

I hope you enjoyed the shots.  David and Giselle recently made us jealous thanks to their recent encounter with a large ram on their visit to Yellowstone last week.  Sounds like we need to get another trip scheduled out there soon!

11 thoughts on “(Not So) Bighorn Sheep”

  1. Um, I think you have your facts mixed up. Robert Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scouts (and Juliette Low founded the Girl Scouts in case you are interested.) Burnham was a friend of Powell and credited with being his inspiration for the Scouting program. But I would consider Powell the Father of the Boy Scouts and not Burnham. Just my two cents worth….


  2. Well well, being called out by my wife.. this is interesting. Apparently being a lifetime member of The Girl Scouts has given her some authority on this subject – as opposed to someone such as myself that was actually a Boy Scout at one time (we will not discuss the actual length of time in this forum). I shall refer back to the comment taken directly from Wikipedia “..efforts of Major Frederick Russell Burnham, the noted conservationist who has been called the Father of Scouting.” Having read this blurb from the source of all knowledge on the web I take it to mean that Mr. Burnham is considered the Father of Scouting – further reading on the subject reveals that Mr. Burnham taught Mr. Baden-Powell everything he knows about scouting (okay, slight exaggeration, but definitely all his woodcraft knowledge but what else is there in scouting.) Wanting to make sure my facts were straight I also went to the reference used by Wikipedia (if you go to the Bighorn Sheep entry in Wikipedia (here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bighorn_sheep ) and then go down to reference [28] you will find: van Wyk, Peter (2000). Burnham: King of Scouts. Trafford Publishing. ISBN 1-412200-28-8. Retrieved 2007-03-30. Now for the funny part – if you take the link that they use in that reference you will be redirected here: http://www.burnhamkingofscouts.com/ I think you will actually find that has likely changed a little since it was originally referenced. I will call your attention to the left pane and the bottom tool bar which reference : Women Seeking Men and Girl on Girl! So not only do you appear to be wrong on the Father of the Boy Scouts, but it appears that Mr. Burnham is also the Father of the GIRL SCOUTS (hehehe) .. why do I feel like I am going to pay for this one… I could use some help out there, please weigh in .. at least that way we can all share in her wrath …. I call your $0.02 and raise you another $0.02


  3. Linda is correct. Baden-Powell is the father of the scouting movement. He started the program, which includes more than just woodcrafts. (leadership, civic responsibility, patience with misguided photographers, …) Burnham may have been his inspiration, but he did not start the scouting movement. However, since “father of ” is not an official title nor does it denote any real actions on the person’s part, I will let you keep your misguided beliefs. (what was URL for that girl on girl site?)


  4. Well, as Mark Twain would say, “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.”. Although, to be honest, depending on a Google search on that phrase, it could be Mark Twain, or some guy from Texas named Frank Dobie, and other sources say it started in Hollywood by producers. So maybe don’t use my citations either. 🙂



  5. Okay, first off if is disappointing to know that there are so many other people that are just as wrong as Linda. I will simply reiterate one more time that they are not referring to the FOUNDER of Boy Scouts, but rather the FATHER of Boy Scouts thanks to his significant influence he had on training/teaching/mentoring the individual who decided to profit off of the experiences of someone else .. just saying. Thank you for all your input.. or should I say Linda’ thanks you all for building up her ego.

    Couple of other points … I have decided to take back my present for Ron’s birthday this year. I don’t think he is ready for a rifle.. or in reality I don’t think the animals in the “least concerned” conservation category would survive his trigger finger! Maybe a nice pair of binoculars would be better.

    Oh, and thanks Skids for taking the time to share your ram. I also think it is a nice shot and extra kudos for only having the camera for what like a week? well done… and appreciate the skills comment, but really I just never let anyone see my thousands of bad shots (thank god for digital!!)

    Wow.. like 9 responses this time – this might rival the bathroom etiquette post for comments

    Thanks for sharing everyone!


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