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Old May 28, 2004, 12:30 AM   #1
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Pronghorn often dot the grassland and sagebrush landscape in north western Colorado. But any approach within 200 yards usually sends them running, and they can run at 60 miles per hour. The ability of speed coupled with their remarkable hearing and eyesight give them command over great distance on the prairie. Although wary, their dominant command lends them to curiosity and they can be enticed by unusual movements, and apparently, sounds.

While surveying birds in this remote region I came upon a small herd of pronghorn near the road. Predictably, as I slowed the truck they took off running. As I often do while driving, I happened to be listening to a CD of recorded bird songs, so I cranked up the stereo on high while playing the song of the Sage Thrasher. The pronghorn all stopped in their tracks, turned in unison and stared intently.

Caption #1: Our eyes don't believe what our ears our telling us.

Caption #2: (pronghorn #1): "Oh, that was just a sage thrasher!" (pronghorn #2): "No, no, it was a mockingbird, I'm sure, more complex and varied but less musical than a thrasher..." (pronghorn #3): "You nitwits need glasses! That's a Toyota Tundra and the guy inside is aiming a camera at us. I'm gettin' outta here!

The photo suffers from mid afternoon sun and high magnification, but I love the subject and wanted to share the (mostly true) story.

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Old May 28, 2004, 8:33 AM   #2
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I assume that the one on the far left is the male? The coloration seems a bit different. I've never heard of those animals before, so its an interesting an informative story (and a bit fun too!)

Eric
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Old May 28, 2004, 11:22 AM   #3
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Beaut animals there! I love the scenery too. It seems to match the animal.

Weird how they are all staring at you... I wonder what they're thinking... Hmm *ponders*

~JENNI
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Old May 28, 2004, 12:10 PM   #4
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Yes, the one on the left is a young buck. Besides his darker color he sports horns and a black cheek patch (not seen in this photo). Some does will have small horns but the cheek patch always distinguishes the males from females. Male pronghorn are also much larger and can weigh up to 225 lbs, nearly twice that of a doe. Native to North America, pronghorn are commonly called antelope but are not true antelope as they are closely related to goats.

I apply for pronghorn hunting licenses every year and have hunted them three times. The flavorful meat is similar to deer but more a white meat much like pork. In part, hunting serves to preserve range conditions, so important in these drought years. This management protects pronghorn herds from the sort of massive wildlife die-offs which are common in Africa and other parts of the world.

The dawn chorus of birds and other animals in the western sagebrush country is a sound like no other. The seemingly vast and beautiful regions in NW Colorado and Wyoming are sparsely inhabited, an unrecognized national treasure. I hope you all can experience it someday.

Here's one more photo of a buck and his harem, taken at about 160 meters with a Panasonic FZ10, handheld. Location is north of Maybell, Colorado, just south of the Wyoming border.

Well, I'm off for another week of trekking through the sage, pinyon-juniper and ponderosa pine habitats of western CO near the Utah border. Cheers,

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Old May 28, 2004, 10:20 PM   #5
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I assume the big reason for the need to thin the herd is that humans have killed off their natural preditators?

Have fun out there. I'm going to get up early myself and see what I can find.

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