Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Pronghorn, Nevada's Fastest Land Animal

 Neither an antelope nor a goat but an iconic symbol of North America's Grasslands

How often does the quest for adventure compel you to just follow a hunch?  Thus was the feeling I had on a warm autumn Sunday. 

I took a different road not knowing what to anticipate when suddenly I noticed several pronghorn antelope in the tall grass just off the roadside.  Fearing that they would run away if I pulled over too close, I drove past and stopped on the opposite side of the road.  

In the few minutes it took me to gather my camera and walk across the road, a few more pronghorn wandered over closer.


 I realized this was a family group or “nursery” of fawns with the mothers.  


When I looked up from my camera, I noticed the buck standing off with watchful eyes in the near distance.  The herd or band is comprised of a buck and his harem of females.  The buck will protect his harem from other male pronghorns.    

The Pronghorn Antelope is not a true antelope, however it was so named by the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  The Pronghorn Antilocapra Americana is the only surviving member of the Antilocapridae family and is native to North America for over a million years!

Pronghorns are named for their branched two point horns made of bone which are shed and re-grown each year.

With my telephoto lens, I was able to keep my distance.  I was wearing muted colors that blended in with the desert but a few of the pronghorns were becoming curious.  Their big eyes and large ears help to detect predators so I was surprised that I all this time I had not been seen as a threat.  

Off in the distance I heard a noise and the herd went of the alert.  I was able to catch several frames as they began to run away.  Pronghorns are the fastest North American land animal, running at speeds of 65 MPH.

A barbed wire fence along the roadside kept the pronghorns from running toward me.  Unlike deer these animals are not good at jumping and will climb under a fence if space allows. 

What a beautiful sight to watch these graceful pronghorns running free across the desert landscape.

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With my Nikon and tripod, my goal is to recreate the scene as it appears in nature, to preserve in a photographic image the awesome, yet simplistic beauty of the scene that waits around a bend or over a hill. Sometimes it's a colorful landscape, and many times I'm allowed in the presence of the numerous creatures that adapt to life in the wild.

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