Category Archives: Photo Essay

2018 Colorado Outdoors Photo Issue Video

COLORADO’S OUTDOORS

This year marks the 80th anniversary of Colorado Outdoors, and we’re thankful for the ability to share the stories of conservation, wildlife and our sporting and recreation heritage with you over eight decades. Started in 1938 as a publication of the newly formed Colorado Game and Fish Commission, the original Colorado Conservation Comments has undergone several changes over the years to become the full-color bimonthly magazine you hold today. One thing that has not changed is our mission to deliver information about the intersection of hunting, angling, recreation and conservation that is perhaps more vital today than ever before. Read more

Battle Scars

 

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Mule deer buck after a fight. All photos by © Wayne D. Lewis/CPW.

For hunters, photographers, biologists, wildlife watchers, etc., when it comes to deer in the fall, the talk always turns to the rut. “When does it start? Which is first — whitetails or muleys?” While the people are debating, the bucks are out battling and chasing does in the field. This mule deer buck was captured by my camera this morning, coursing through the grasslands right after a fight. I’m not sure if he was the winner or loser, but he was riled up, sniffing, grunting and intent on finding a receptive doe. At one point, three does were on one side of a fence, so he squeezed under it to get to them as soon as possible and gave each a good sniff.

I can’t tell you exactly when the rut begins and ends, but I can share that for this buck, the time is now.


Wayne D. Lewis is the editor and art director of Colorado Outdoors magazine.

A Weekend in the Rut

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Mule deer buck and doe during the rut. All photos and video by © Wayne D. Lewis/CPW.

Let me start by stating that I am not a videographer — no awards will be won by me. I’m a decent photographer and an acceptable (I think) writer, but I am fully aware that David Attenborough will not be contacting me any time soon for my video skills. That being said, if a picture is worth a thousand words then a video is worth considerably more of those words.

For years, words and pictures have been all I have had to go by when researching the behaviors of deer (both white-tailed and mule) during the rut, but last weekend I was lucky enough to find myself surrounded by deer acting quite rutty. So, in between capturing still photos, I made use of my Nikon’s video function. According to some of my sources, white-tailed deer start their rut a week or so earlier than the muleys and that seemed to be true last weekend. Whitetail bucks were running through the shrubs and over the hills like hormonal teenagers, but once a whitetail buck found a doe that might be receptive, he tended to her with laser focus, only taking breaks to run off competitors.

However, the mule deer were just ramping up. “They’re not acting very rutty,” said one of the other photographers as we shot different angles of the same buck and doe. The bucks would chase the does to see whether they were ready and receptive. There was a fair amount of thrashing at rubs, snorting, sniffing, stamping and performing the flehmen response. If I capture more of their behaviors, I will update this post. Read more

What to See Now: Shrikes

YOTB_stacked_KIn celebration of the Year of the Bird, we will highlight some of the birds and their behaviors that you can observe at certain times throughout the year.

 

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A pair of loggerhead shrikes from the Pawnee National Grasslands. All photos by © Wayne D. Lewis/CPW.

Driving down County Road 57 on the edge of the Pawnee National Grasslands, I saw a flurry of avian activity on a barbed-wire fence just ahead. I pulled over to see three of the four birds had moved off a bit, leaving one little bird sitting alone. Well, “sitting” isn’t quite right, because its legs were sticking out at odd angles. “Resting” isn’t correct either, because there wasn’t much peaceful about the scene. The small brownish bird was “stuck.” I edged my truck a few feet ahead to try and get a better idea what species I was looking at, but that didn’t help. It’s hard to identify a bird when it is missing its head. Read more

What to See Now: Western Meadowlarks

YOTB_stacked_KIn celebration of the Year of the Bird, we will highlight some of the birds and their behaviors that you can observe at certain times throughout the year.

 

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A male western meadowlark in the Pawnee National Grasslands. All photos by © Wayne D. Lewis/CPW.

While driving along a gravelly country road, I notice a squat shape sitting on a fence post bracing itself against a stiff Colorado breeze. To me, it looks a bit like a crude grade-school art project where the assignment is creating a bird by applying a chocolate chip beak and popsicle stick tail to an egg — a dull, mottled, grayish brown, grumpy egg. But then it raises up, exposing its bright yellow and black “V for varsity” sweater vest and bursts into song. If its melody isn’t the official song of the prairie, it deserves it as much or more than anything on country radio. Whether the song of the western meadowlark is cheerful or soulful is up to the listener, but the melody signals spring in Colorado’s grasslands. Read more

K9 Cash: A Nose for Natural Resources

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How long would it take you to locate a rare toad in the mountains of Colorado? How about spotting a federally endangered black-footed ferret hiding underground in one of Colorado’s many prairie dog towns? Both species are extremely rare and elusive, and are always on the radar of Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) biologists and wildlife officers. To get a leg-up on this challenge, CPW launched a K9 pilot program, enlisting a pair of highly trained working dogs who use their natural abilities to find what the human eye often cannot see. Read more

WHAT TO SEE NOW: GREAT HORNED OWLS

YOTB_stacked_KIn celebration of the Year of the Bird, we will highlight some of the birds and their behaviors that you can observe at certain times throughout the year.

 

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A young great horned owlet shares its nest with its mother and two siblings. All photos by © Wayne D. Lewis/CPW

Nothing sparks the attention of a neighborhood like a new family moving in. On a quiet block of well-kept, mid-century homes, an unlikely pair took up residence in a penthouse condo formerly occupied for years by . . . red-tailed hawks?? Yep, these aren’t the typical new suburban arrivals, they are great horned owls. This pair, and especially their offspring, have united neighbors much more than backyard BBQs and block parties ever would. Read more

What to See Now: Red-winged Blackbirds

YOTB_stacked_KIn celebration of the Year of the Bird, we will highlight some of the birds and their behaviors that you can observe at certain times throughout the year.

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A male red-winged blackbird. All photos by © Wayne D. Lewis/CPW.

If you cruise along just about any road in Colorado that passes through marshy or wet land, or hike by a lake or stream, you are likely to see red-winged blackbirds. Sleek and black, with bright orange, red and yellow shoulder patches, the males are what you will notice first — sitting on a cattail, wire fence or power line singing their conk-la-lee! song. Males sing to mark their territory and attract females, both of which they will aggressively protect. I once saw a red-winged blackbird repeatedly dive-bomb a belly boater that had ventured too close to its territory. Read more

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