Spotted! Pronghorn

Pronghorn are widespread in the Wet Mountain Valley. We have the pleasure of seeing them often. A small band of females have their regular birthing grounds not far from our house in the cool spring grasses, hiding their new fawns in the lush greenery while they graze far away in order to lure predators from the vulnerable babies. The fawns blend so well that we’ve inadvertently come too close a time or two as we enjoyed a leisurely walk with our dogs on a warm spring evening. I’m not sure if the fawn is more startled or if we are as it explodes from its nest, racing away as we watch, the dogs trembling with excitement by our sides.

Preservation Photography www.preservationlandscapes.com photo credit

As delightful as babies are, winter brings a truly impressive sight as the does and fawns band together with the bucks in large mixed herds. Recently, as we were driving home on a cold, gray afternoon, we saw movement through the swirling fog and stopped on the side of the gravel road, peering through the mist and occasional snowflake to see a few pronghorn bucks watching us. What looked at first to be a small herd turned out to be the largest grouping I’d ever seen as more and more pronghorn poured into view from behind a slight rise. As we sat there, we counted hundreds, although I can’t vouch for our accuracy in counting a moving target.

With that pronghorn level of wariness that I’ve not encountered in any other wildlife, the bucks closest to us continued to watch our car, presumably trying to decide if we were benign enough to ignore. The previous spring’s fawns were still easy to distinguish, slightly smaller and sticking close to their mothers, who seemed more interested in grazing than in us. Our dogs quivered in the back of the car, noses lifted in the cold air, as they watched the animals graze.

We sat there for a long time, saying little, simply enjoying the sight of wild creatures as they spread out over the sage and grasses, filling their bellies before the next storm began in earnest. Finally, the fog that had lifted just enough to allow a glimpse of the herd descended again, and the snow began to fall more steadily. With our view cut off, we eased onto the road and headed home, looking forward to dinner and a warm fire. A small sign hanging on the fence caught my eye. The land the pronghorn were gathered on was conservation land - protected by San Isabel Land Protection Trust.

 

About the author: Patty Reagin is a freelance writer and volunteer for San Isabel Land Protection Trust. When she’s not behind a computer working she can be found outside, taking in the beauty of the Wet Mountain Valley with her dogs and horses.

 

Top photo credit: Preservation Photography

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