March 2009 - 36 photos

What is Hardware Ranch? It is a ranch in Northern Utah run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take care of the elk in the winter, so that they won't come down from the high country and invade the farm land.

In March of 2009 I drove up to Hardware Ranch to photograph the Elk.... What Elk? I looked and looked and was about to leave when I noticed a long dark line way out in the distance, about a quarter mile away. I got out my big telephoto lens and what do you know, there were Elk, lots of Elk, but how do you get close enough for pictures.... Oh yeah, you pay for a sleigh ride out to see them... But on this day they were not open for business. Using my large 500mm telephoto lens I was able to get some photos. My favorite, a panorama of 12 telephoto shots stitched together. One really long line of Elk.

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A long line of elk at Hardware Ranch - Click on photo to see the larger size

A few days later Bill Joy and I went back on a day when they were open for the sleigh rides. On this day the Elk were much closer and were spread in a great circle where they feed them. We drove up to the Visitor Center, located high on the hillside above, and bought our tickets, then back down to the parking lot where we boarded the large horse drawn sleighs. Our guide took us out among the Elk and stopped when ever we wanted pictures, but we were not allowed to get out of the sleigh. He told us that the Elk would run if we got out. The photo below was taken from the Visitor Center up on the hill.

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The large circle of elk at Hardware Ranch - Click on photo to see the larger size

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Horse drawn sleighs at Hardware Elk Ranch

I really enjoyed my ride among these Rocky Mountain Elk. They are grand creatures, but it bothered me seeing them fenced in like they were. I would really like to see and photograph them in the wild. Our guide said once the Elk come down for the winter, they close them in to protect them.

If you are interested in visiting Hardware Ranch to see the Elk,   the 2009-2010 season runs from December 18 to March 15 (weather permitting). I don't know what their schedule or prices will be for future winters. They are only open Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday at this time.
I recommend checking their own web site for visit times and prices.
Click here for Hardware Ranch Website

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Riding through the elk herd

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The picture below shows the loading station and the field where the Elk are fed. Far in the background you can see some dark green corrals. I took the top panorama from the same place the picture below was taken from, so you can see that the Elk in that first picture were really far away on that first day. With my eyes only, I couldn't tell that those were Elk out there. Gives you some idea of what a 500mm telephoto lens can do. Now that you see how far away that corral is, go back and look at that top picture full size.

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Loading station and the feeding area

   - 36 photos -
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Related Photos

More pages of Winter Wildlife
Winter Wildlife 1
 Winter Wildlife 1

Winter Wildlife 2
 Winter Wildlife 2

Winter Wildlife 3
 Winter Wildlife 3

On the first day, I used my Canon EOS 40D, 10.1 Megapixel SLR Camera with a Canon EF 500mm IS telephoto lens for long reach photos. I also used a Canon 1.4x adapter for even more power. That raised it to 22.4x magnification. I do use a monopod with this big lens, which is enough with the IS.

On the second day when we rode in the sleigh, I used two cameras, my Canon EOS 40D with the EF 100-400mm IS zoom telephoto for close-ups, and my Canon EOS 20D with the EFs 17-85mm IS wide angle to 5x zoom for wide angle shots.

These photos are set to 750 x 500 for faster loading. You are welcome to look at or download any of the photos. If you use them on any other webpage, please give credit and refer back to me.

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