Bison Quest Adventure Vacation Blog

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Winter Moose February 6, 2018

Snacking in the snow.

We have resident moose here at the ranch on a year round basis, and it’s not uncommon to see them striding past the kitchen window.  You would think that, with such long legs and oddly proportioned head and body, they would look ungainly, but they most definitely do not.  They have a grace that makes their long legged pace look almost relaxed and easy and they cover distance at a remarkably fast rate.  Their long legs lift them up above the snow, and they don’t find it the obstacle that deer do.  So, while the deer and elk leave our high mountain ranch in the winter time, the moose are content to move from one drainage to another, crossing over the ridge that our home and bison ranch sits on, and striding down the other side.  While they eat substantial amounts of aquatic vegetation in the summer months, spending long hours in willow thickets and streams, their winter diet is more accessible on the mountain slopes and south exposures where aspen, fivewillow and chokecherry, snowberry, snowbrush and other shrubby offerings stick up above the snow.    This fella is using his front hooves to paw through the snow to reach vegetation hiding away there.

 

November 19, 2017

Filed under: bison,ecology — bisonquest @ 6:30 pm
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There’s a reason that bison have such big heads (a bull head can weigh up to 200 lbs).  They can forage through 1- 2 feet of snow by using their head to push snow aside to reach any vegetation underneath.

Moving snow

Using their massive heads, bison can reach vegetation below snow.

Here Gigi is finding some green grass under the snow that grew as a result of our fall rains .

 

And whooooo is looking down at me- the saw whet owl has owlets! May 19, 2015

Mama northern saw whet owl

Mama northern saw whet owl peering down at the photographer pointing a camera up at her!

Northern saw whet owlet looks out at a brand new world!

Northern saw whet owlet looks out at a brand new world!

 

So how can you tell what a nocturnal critter is doing all that time in the nest box?  Why, working at making one of the cutest babies in the world.  And when the baby owlet peeks out, you know everything must have gone very well indeed!!

 

Bison – how do you tell them apart? We’ll start at the beginning with the calves and their horns! January 12, 2015

When guests come to visit, Craig introduces them to all of the herd cows by name.  And that leads everyone to ask, “How can you tell them apart?”  Well, the simple answer is the same as your answer to this question, “How do you tell your friends from each other?”  Because they all have individual characteristics that are unique to them.  Of course, if you aren’t used to looking for those characteristics, they’re hard to see (I have Caucasian friends that tell me they can’t tell Asians apart, and I have Asian friends who tell me that all white folks look the same :).   It’s just a matter of knowing how to look for those differences.  So I figured I’d do a series showing how we identify our buffs!

april babies 013

Brand new baby – can’t see horns but you can feel them (if mom would let you)

And since horns are probably the characteristic that most folks look at first, we’ll start there with a look at age classes.  And to do that, let’s begin at the beginning.  The calves!

The one sleeping on the left is a newborn.  If you could touch the top of her head, you would feel the tiniest little bumps that will become her horns. And you would really feel some horns when her mom caught you doing that!

The next calf picture (sniffing my fingers) has little horn buds that are just showing up above the curly wool.

The little black faced “red” calf is about 4 months old,

and the last is a six month old calf.  I think their little horns make them look like devils!

 

 

 

 

You can just see the little horn buds (this baby is about a month old)

You can just see the little horn buds (this baby is about a month old)

This is a 4 month old calf (they're not usually still red when we have snow on the ground, but this was an October calf!)

This is a 4 month old calf (they’re not usually still red when we have snow on the ground, but this was an October calf!)

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And here is a six month old calf, looking a little “devilish”!

 

 

“Glamping With Bison at a Gorgeous Montana Ranch” hot off the Yahoo Travel press! December 8, 2014

We thoroughly enjoyed Jo Piazza’s visit and resulting article about our Bison Quest Wildlife Vacations!

Jo Piazza 030 (1280x720)

Glamping With Bison at a Gorgeous Montana Ranch Run by Scientists

 

Helicopter Eagle Nest survey – how we do it. June 8, 2014

For those who are curious, here’s how we try to determine the number of golden eagle nests in an area (for those concerned about tax dollars, these aren’t.  This is money from oil and gas leases, which is fitting since they are some of the issues causing the problems.)

Golden eagles need either cliffs or very large trees to nest in (Bald eagles nest primarily in really big trees near water).  So to find Golden Eagles (the primary target of this study) here’s what we do:

We cruise cliffs along rivers..

We fly above rivers looking in the trees (and watching out for powerlines!), check out cliffs along rivers and up drainages,

and cliffs in the mountains

and cliffs in the mountains

Golden Eagles usually nest on cliffs

Typical Golden Eagle nest with 2 chicks

Bald Eagle nest

Bald Eagle nest with adult and chick in a cottonwood tree on the river.

 

Commuting to work. A Bison Quest “I love my life!” post June 7, 2014

Commuting to work Monday morning.

Commuting to work Monday morning.

Get up in the morning, grab a bite to eat, and run out to the pasture to catch a helicopter to work.  We’re doing Golden Eagle surveys this week :)!

 

 

 

Bison Quest Drive In – We drive in and the bison calf jumps on! January 5, 2014

Filed under: About Us,Amusing,bison — bisonquest @ 2:22 pm
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"Going on a hay ride with you."

Bison Quest Drive In Dining

This youngster isn’t big on waiting for the hay to come to him.  Once we arrive, he jumps on the trailer and rides while I drive. Craig throws hay off of the front of the bale while the youngster snacks on the back.  It’s a buffalo sort of “Drive In Dining.”

 

Lions and coyotes and wolves, oh my! December 16, 2013

Wolf tracks - note oval with large claws.  Big, too!

Wolf tracks – note oval shape with large claws. Big, too!

Ok, the other day I shared a mountain lion track and talked about what makes a cat track distinctive.  Well, a few days later we found a very excited herd of bison when we went to feed.  They were snorting and bucking and kicking up their heels, quite literally.  That happens with them, and sometimes for no particular reason except that they feel good, but this time was a little different.  Like they were proud of themselves or something.  It wasn’t until my walk that I found out what had gotten them riled.  Wolf tracks crossing through our aspen drainage.   I followed the tracks and found that, while the wolf pretty much made a straight shot across the ranch, all the other ranch inhabitants certainly didn’t ignore him.  I found where a deer had bounded across the wolf tracks and the buffs had milled around behind the wolf and completely obliterated the his tracks in other places.  It didn’t look like the buffs chased the wolf, and he certainly hadn’t chased them, it was more like the buffs wound around behind the wolf and kept him on the move.  I also found a set of coyote tracks that came up to the wolf tracks.  Stopped (probably sniffed them), then began to follow the wolf tracks – the opposite direction the wolf was going!  That coyote’s mom didn’t raise no dummy!!  So very cool!

Coyote track - wolf track

Coyote track, wolf track. I’ll leave you to guess which is which!

 

Guess who’s coming to dinner – a bull elk invites himself! December 9, 2013

I really LOVE game cameras – they are just so darn much fun.  It’s sort of like getting a Christmas morning every time you go check them :).  We knew someone was eating the hay (ok, we knew what was eating it too – elk tracks are pretty hard to mistake ) but we didn’t know it was this big fella.

Do I hear a camera click?

Do I hear a camera click?

Guess who's coming to dinner?

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

 

 
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