July 29, 2012 Leave a comment
Brenda and I prefer to drive to our photo tour destinations. Three days gets us from Ontario to Montana. On this occasion we were joining a tour group of 8 enthusiastic and experienced photographers in late February in Bozeman Montana. The tour was scheduled for 3 days plus a fourth, optional ‘weather day’ where, each day, we photographed at least 4 wildlife model predators, big and small, North American, Asian and European subjects, in natural settings near Troy and Tracy Hyde’s ranch. This was the winter of 2012, unusual in that many areas of the continent were experiencing warmer than normal temperatures and less than normal snowfalls. Ordinarily I would welcome such conditions, having experienced many long brutal winters in Northern Ontario, where -30 is not uncommon. But, on this occasion we were worried. It was the ‘winter that never was’. There might not be sufficient snow. As we drove through Billings, our ennui increased as we encountered miles of brown terrain. Fortunately Bozeman, and the high areas around the Hyde ranch had plenty of snow. The weather was finally cooperating!
What followed were four days of exciting, intense, fun-filled animal photography. Grizzly bear brothers duking it out in a meadow. A pack of wolves running down a hill toward us. The snow leopard posing and charging in fresh, falling snow. The Siberian tiger charging toward us in a snowy field. Skunks, raccoons, foxes and fishers. And of course, Charley the cougar. Charley walking towards us. Charley charging towards us. Charley in our faces. Charley up a tree. There were bobcats and two species of lynx, all in pristine snow and natural surroundings. All handled expertly, with the utmost safety concerns, by Troy and his two capable assistants Dimitri and Ben. Motor drives chattered. Memory cards filled rapidly, even the big ones. Participants were able to receive instant feedback on their captures as they downloaded and displayed their pictures in Tracy and Troy’s living room.