Photo of the Week – September 21, 2018

I spent much of this week in northern Nebraska, attending various events and staying at the Niobrara Valley Preserve.  It rained much of the time, but I caught a break in the clouds Monday evening and happened upon the bison in our east herd as the sun was going down.  I spent about an hour and a half tagging along with them as they moved slowly toward the setting sun.  If you haven’t spent much time with bison, one of the things you notice immediately is how quiet they are.  Apart from some contented grunting, the primary sounds I heard as I accompanied them was the crunching of their hooves in the grass and the sound of them tearing mouthfuls of food from the prairie.  It was very peaceful, and provided the perfect accompaniment to the sun going down over the hills.

This entry was posted in Prairie Animals, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography and tagged , , , , , , by Chris Helzer. Bookmark the permalink.

About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.

6 thoughts on “Photo of the Week – September 21, 2018

  1. Ahh, calm bison on a golden afternoon. What a spot-on description of the sounds of the herd. They would make a perfect relaxation soundtrack. Thanks for yet another treat.

  2. Great pics. Did I tell you about the farmer in Arizona, that bought a bull buffalo and tried to keep as a pet? Well you guessed it right and did not go well. Another time.

  3. Were you on foot?

    Greg On Sep 21, 2018 8:03 AM, “The Prairie Ecologist” wrote:

    > Chris Helzer posted: ” I spent much of this week in northern Nebraska, > attending various events and staying at the Niobrara Valley Preserve. It > rained much of the time, but I caught a break in the clouds Monday evening > and happened upon the bison in our east herd as the sun w” >

    • Greg – good question. No, I was on an ATV. A little safer than being on foot, but not as safe as being in a truck. As such, I was much more aware of my surroundings and careful to keep a safe distance. I spent most of my time behind them, waiting for them to move away from me and then starting up the ATV and catching up a little. Toward the end, I circled around in front of them, but then I had to be really careful to move away before they got close enough to make me nervous. I didn’t want to appear to be competition to any of the big bulls sniffing around nearby females! Normally, the herd is pretty skittish around ATVs – much more than they are around trucks – but this time they seemed pretty relaxed, as long as I didn’t try to get too close or make sudden moves. As they got more comfortable with my presence, I gradually closed the distance between us, but still maintained what seemed to be a safe distance. Trust me, I’ve got utmost respect for the speed and unpredictability of those animals.

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