Best of the Tetons

Season's Greetings

December Daily Updates for Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole

A monthly journal of daily weather reports, road reports, wildlife reports and tidbits for both photographers and Teton visitors!

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Wildlife Banner

Wildlife Reports for Late December:

  • Bison: 200+/- Bison are hanging around north of Kelly.
  • Moose:  Seen regularly near Ditch Creek and Ditch Creek Road. 20-30 can be seen on occasions. Some bulls are dropping their antlers. Moose bed down by about 9:00 to 9:30 am at this time.
  • Bighorn Sheep: 60-90 are wintering on Miller Butte in the National Elk Refuge. They are currently in the rut. Best viewed between 10:00 am and 3:30 pm.
  • Pronghorns: Were seen fairly often along the Gros Ventre Road and in the Kelly area, but may have migrated out of the valley now? I haven’t seen them in a while.
  • Elk : Migrating in large numbers to the National Elk Refuge from many zones. Hunting is now closed in GTNP (except some areas along the Parkway). Better be out very early to see them except on the Refuge.
  • Wolves: There are numerous packs of Wolves in GTNP, but I seldom see more than tracks. Generally, they are close behind the prey animals like elk and deer.
  • Mule Deer: Seen occasionally along the GV river, near the Golf and Tennis Club, and along the highway across from the Elk Refuge. Be out early!
  • Mountain Goats: Seen regularly at the mouth of the Snake River Canyon near Alpine Junction. Best viewed mid-morning through around 3:00 pm.
  • Bald Eagles & Golden Eagles: Seen on occasions all over the valley.
  • Ruff-legged Hawks: Common this year, seen on the fence posts along the Elk Refuge.
  • River Otters have been sighted on occasions at Oxbow Bend.
  • Bears are hibernating.
  • Waterfowl: Flat Creek is frozen solid forcing waterfowl into other parts of the region or sending them along their migration paths. Check out the Swan Pond at Boyle’s Hill.
  • Wintering Birds such as Woodpeckers, Flickers, Chickadees, Robins, Nuthatches, Clark’s Nutcrackers, & Steller’s Jays, can be seen in JH fairly often.

Snowman: Season’s Greetings! I took that photo towards the end of last winter to be used on our Christmas Card this year.  Seems like a good time to post it here!


December Daily Reports:

New Years 2009

Torch Light Parade and Fireworks at Snow King Ski Area: Snow King will be hosting a similar event again just after dark on December 31st. I took this image from a high spot at the end of the King Tube park. I’ve also photographed it from the top of the town parking garage and from a private spot on Saddle Butte. People gather at the base of the mountain. Many bring fire pits, wine & cheese baskets, hot chocolate, and coffee to keep warm. The Jackson Hole Mountain Resort at Teton Village hosts a similar event for skiers and tourists in that area of the valley.

Shooting Notes and Comments: This composite image was taken in 2009. I used a dozen or so images—layered together in Photoshop. Exposure times were usually around 1 second to 1.6 second for the torches and around 1/4 second for the fireworks. If you are thinking about a shot like this, you must first consider the fireworks that will be going off high in the night sky, then frame your shot to hold them. The fireworks are set after the last torch is extinguished after the last ride. I like to get there early enough to get a good spot, then focus in on the lift building and set it to manual focus. I took this one with a 24-70mm lens at F/2.8, obviously on a sturdy tripod. Lastly, in post processing, all you have to do is put one image over another one on a new layer, then pick “Lighten” in the Layer Mode for the top layer. Add additional layers until the entire composite is complete.

December 31, 2013  | 7:00 AM: 28°F : Sunrise 7:56 AM, Sunset 4:57 PM :  High Temp Forecast 28°F

Preparing to Kiss 2013 Goodbye!

Web Pygmy Owl Dec31

Pygmy Owl in Aspens: If you haven’t read all of my early Feature Posts, you might enjoy this one: Serendipity Happens!  Sometimes we stumble into unexpected little treasures while on the trail of something else!

Today’s Outings:  It stayed dark and gray all day, with occasional snow flurries. I found the Cedar Waxwings, then headed back home to get my warmer clothes. When I returned, they had just flown into the sky and disappeared to the Northeast.  I looked for them, but gave up and went to the National Elk Refuge. Bighorns were down, but the larger rams were not in good places near the rocks. Later in the evening, I drove around looking for the Waxwings once more and caught a glimpse of this little Pygmy Owl hunting while sitting in an aspen tree. This is a fairly tight crop with tough lighting, but it shows the little critter!

Web Pygmy Owl and Vole Dec31

Pygmy Owl and Vole: I’d love to able to put each of these tiny animals on a scale and weigh them. This seems like a large prize for such a small predator.

Tonight? I am trying to decide whether to head over to Snow King for the Torch Light Parade and Fireworks….probably!


December 30, 2013  | 7:00 AM: 18°F : Sunrise 7:56 AM, Sunset 4:56 PM :  High Temp Forecast 31°F

Web Moose Cow Calf Dec29

Today in Jackson Hole: A couple of days ago, I saw a moose cow and calf in Karn’s Meadows—right in the middle of town! I meant to mention it here, but it slipped my mind. Yesterday, I was driving around town looking for Cedar Waxwings when I saw the moose cow and calf bedded down in someone’s yard only a few blocks from Karn’s Meadows. A few years ago, a Vixen (female fox) raised her Kits for all to see, and only a few feet from the road. It was a big event! Just above this cow, you can see a Crab Apple tree. They are quite common in the town of Jackson and are scattered all over the place. Moose like them as well as the Waxwings, although the Cedar Waxwings seem to prefer the small, red berries like Mountain Ash and Choke Cherries.

I went out at least three times and drove around the neighborhoods looking for Cedar Waxwings. I came up empty each time. I drove out to the National Elk Refuge once in the morning and again in the afternoon. I took a couple of featureless images of a couple of rams feeding the grass, but they probably won’t make the first cut when I start culling the images. I didn’t see any sheep in the afternoon. People walk their dogs along the Elk Refuge Road, and occasionally a large dog will spook them up the mountain. Who knows what caused them to head up the mountain today?

Web Ruff-legged Hawk 2005

Eclectic Entries: I mentioned the Moose already. I hear reliable reports of people getting shots of River Otters at Oxbow Bend and even the Dam area in GTNP. Actually, I’ve seen a couple of their photos and they are beautiful. I also heard people say they spent the entire day next waiting for them without seeing a single otter. Otters often feed for a couple of days at one spot and then move on to a new spot before returning. It’s a big gamble in time and gasoline for me to drive up there right now. Yesterday, I found the Cedar Waxwings and got a few (thousand) shots. Then, all of the sudden, they left their resting tree. As it turns out, a Pygmy Owl had landed in the tree. As I was driving off, I saw it, but I thought it was a Clark’s Nutcracker and didn’t try to stop. Finding it would be like finding a needle in a haystack, but it is worth at least know of the sighting. I also heard of a sighting of a Snowy Owl on the National Elk Refuge. A lot of ears perk up after hearing this “news”. I’ve mentioned seeing lots of Ruff-legged Hawks on the fence posts along the refuge. The image above is a Ruff-legged Hawk I took in 2005. The other sighting might turn out to be accurate, but I have a feeling someone saw this bird instead? Some of them are very light in color. If a Snowy Owl is actually sighted, I’ll make a note here!

The Lost Frontier: My wife and I attended a book signing party at Fighting Bear Antiques last night. Renowned trial lawyer, Gerry Spence recently published a book titled “The Lost Frontier”. My wife bought one and Gerry signed it for us. I believe all of the photos were taken in Wyoming. There is some text, but it is essentially a photo book. It definitely deserves a “thumbs up”.


December 29, 2013  | 7:00 AM: -4°F : Sunrise 7:56 AM, Sunset 4:55 PM :  High Temp Forecast 21°F

Web Shane Cabin Dec29

Morning at the Shane Cabin: I was out early and ended up at the Shane Cabin for sunrise. Mother Nature put on a very nice show this morning.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 27 mm, 1/40 at f/8, Manual Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 100, ©2013 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Sunrise Dec29

Sunrise: Taken on the hillside just west of the Shane Cabins.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 70 mm, 1/125 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 100, ©2013 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Mule Deer Dec29

Sparring Mule Deer: Taken from the road in Kelly.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/400 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, 0 EV,  ISO 500, ©2013 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Cedar Waxwings Dec29

Cedar Waxwings Feeding on Mountain Ash Berries: Taken on a berry bush in town.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 360 mm, 1/800 at f/6.3, Aperture priority Mode, 0 EV,  ISO 1000, ©2013 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

End of December Nearing: If you are new to this blog, you might want to sign up by entering your email in the upper corner of the right navigation bar. In a couple of days, I will begin a January Daily Updates page and the current December page will be included in the archives. If you sign up to follow Best of the Tetons, you’ll receive an email on the 1st of January with shots from that day and a new wildlife report. I am hoping to get a couple of local advertisers/sponsors to help me afford to keep the reports coming, so if you sign up, it helps me with the needed numbers. Also, right after the 1st of January, I’ll be posting a new Feature Page with quite a few of my keeper images from December. Sign up and you’ll be sure to see the post as I post it! I keep promising new Feature Posts. Please hang in there with me. I just went through around 4000 moose images, culling them to around 400. I still have to go through 3000 Bighorns and 2500 Mountain Goats from the past few weeks. Needless to say, December has been a great month this year.


December 28, 2013  | 7:00 AM: 9°F : Sunrise 7:56 AM, Sunset 4:54 PM :  High Temp Forecast 25°F

Web Elk Refuge Sleigh Ride Dec28

National Elk Refuge Sleigh Ride: Taken next to the refuge fence along the highway. Sleeping Indian Mountain can be seen in the background. There are thousands of Elk on the refuge now.

Web Elk Refuge Sleigh Ride 2 Dec28

Winter Sleigh Ride: Tourists and Photographers can take this sleigh ride right to the middle of the elk herds. Go to the Visitor’s Center on Flat Creek, then ride the bus to the sleigh ride access point. Dress warmly! This might be the single best entertainment value in the valley!

Today’s Outing: Normally, I’d say I made the “Kelly Loop”, but with Antelope Flats Road closed, trips become one way drives requiring a lot of backtracking. I made a trip to Kelly, then North towards Ditch Creek. I found quite a few moose, but by the time I drove up, they were moving away from the road. They appeared to be the same group of bulls I found a little farther south yesterday. Besides the moose, I also saw quite a few Bison and Elk in the areas north of Kelly. On the way home, I stopped to capture a few shots of the sleigh ride on the National Elk Refuge.  Flat Creek is mostly frozen right now. Yesterday, I saw a fairly large animal next to some open water. It turned out to be an adult beaver. There were a few breaks in the clouds today, but it is mostly cloudy at mid-morning as I write this post.


December 27, 2013  | 7:00 AM: 0°F : Sunrise 7:56 AM, Sunset 4:53 PM :  High Temp Forecast 31°F

Today in Jackson Hole:  Today was a good one for photography in Jackson Hole! There were 5 bull Moose clustered in a group just West of the Kelly Warm Springs.

Web Five Bulls Dec27

Five Bull Moose Parade: They proceeded to march towards the springs with a few stops to spar with each other.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 at 95 mm, 1/1600 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 250, ©2013 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Two Bulls Tetons Dec27

Bull Moose and Teton Range: This image was taken from the East Boundary Road on their trek to the Springs.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 at 112 mm, 1/1600 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 250, ©2013 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Bull In Fog Dec27

Bull Moose in the Kelly Warm Springs:  In 27 years of living here, I’ve never actually seen a Bull Moose in the pond. The biggest bull of the group did just that! I took over 1600 images of them today, then another 600 of the Bighorns at Miller Butte.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/2000 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 400, ©2013 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Bull At Springs Dec27

Young Bull Moose at the Edge of the Kelly Warm Springs: I found around 14-16 moose this morning. Interestingly, seven of them still had antlers.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 330 mm, 1/2000 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 400, ©2013 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Bulls Sparring Dec27

Sparring Bull Moose: These Moose were only a few feet from the Warm Springs. There were lots of photographers out this morning and I am sure many of them captured some wonderful images.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 310 mm, 1/2000 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 400, ©2013 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Bighorns Dec27

Bighorns Group: These were taken at Miller Butte on the National Elk Refuge. I took a lot of photos in the morning, then went back later in the day. All of them were back up on the top of the mountains.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/1600 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 400, ©2013 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Bighorns On Rocks Dec27

Bighorn Rams on High Rocks: Rams move back and forth across the rock ledges quite often. It’s always worth taking a few shots of them. A good tripod helps tremendously!

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/2000 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 400, ©2013 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved


December 26, 2013  | 7:00 AM: 3°F : Sunrise 7:55 AM, Sunset 4:53 PM :  High Temp Forecast 28°F

Web Bull Bison Dec26

Today’s Outings: I made my normal trip out to Kelly and found this bull bison about to cross the road to join the other couple of hundred bison in the area.

Web Two Bull Moose Dec26

Bull Moose in Winter Sagebrush: I had to hike out about 500 yards to these two bulls. They could have cared less I was even in the area. They continued to feed and seldom looked up or acknowledged I was around. I keep going back knowing they should be losing their antlers. Some people suggest the biggest ones lose their antlers first, but this shot taken after Christmas seems to contest the statement.

Web Ram On Rocks Dec26

Bighorn Rams on Rock Ledge: Yesterday, I spent the day with four of the nicer rams bashing heads almost like clockwork for a couple of hours. Today, there were sheep at both ends of the Butte, but hardly anything in between. I didn’t witness any head butting at all. There were a few ewes and lambs hanging around at the east end of the butte for a while. I got a few nice shots of them before heading home for some left over Turkey. After lunch, I drove back to the refuge, only to find the sheep inactive and split up.

Web Trumpeter Swan Dec26

Trumpeter Swan in Flight: With not much happening at the Elk Refuge, I headed over to Boyle’s Hill and hit it just right. The light was perfect and the sky was cobalt blue. I had numerous waves of swans flying straight at me and veering off to one side or the other. After the waves of Trumpeters left the pond, it because uncharacteristically quiet. I headed on home to write this post.


December 25, 2013  | 7:30 AM: -2°F : Sunrise 7:55 AM, Sunset 4:52 PM :  High Temp Forecast 25°F

Christmas Jackson Hole Style

Christmas Morning: Season’s Greeting to all viewers and readers!

WebChristmas Morning View Dec25

A View Out My Window – Christmas Morning: I stayed home this morning to be with the wife and kids. When they were young, we’d have been up at the first hint of light, but they are older and still sleeping in their cozy, warm beds. When I look out the window of my upstairs office/studio each morning, I get a chance to see the south edge of the Teton group. The Grand is just out of view. When I am at home and see a beautiful sunrise like this developing, it is already way too late to get to a spot to capture it. I have to take a gamble each morning and simply be out there and hope for a splendid sunrise. It is almost impossible to tell much about the morning conditions in the dark and weather reports only give a partial picture.

Web Bighorn Bash Dec25

Today’s Outing: I hung around the house and the kids for a while this morning, then headed to the National Elk Refuge around lunch time. My “kids” are 21 and 24 now. I think they are enjoying being home for a few days—maybe more than most previous years. We talked about taking the Elk Refuge Sleigh Ride, but it was closed on Christmas.  They went on it when they were in Cub Scouts or part of a school day trip, but that was long ago.  There were four rams near the road, bashing heads regularly for a couple of hours. I shot over 1700 images in the two hours, then had to get back home for some afternoon sledding with the kids. I’ve been to the refuge regularly for he past few weeks hoping to find action similar to today.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 300 mm, 1/2000 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 320, ©2013 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved


December 24, 2013  | 7:00 AM: 22°F : Sunrise 7:54 AM, Sunset 4:51 PM :  High Temp Forecast 24°F

Christmas Eve: Seasons Greetings! : We have about 5″ of fresh snow this morning.

Web Road Closed Dec24Today’s Outing: I drove up Spring Gulch Road  after seeing better cloud color in the West and Southwest. I drove through Kelly and then North where I found a few moose. I wanted to check on Antelope Flats Road today, too. It’s closed now! This closure will force us to make a lot of one way trips, then double back to get to Highway 89/191. Before going home, I made a quick trip to the National Elk Refuge to check on the Bighorns.

Web Sunrise Box L Ranch Dec24

Sunrise at the Box L Ranch: Taken along Spring Gulch Road this morning. At this time of the morning, the clouds were thick over the Grand today.

Web Lower Gros VentreDec24

Morning Light Over the Lower Gros Ventre River: Taken from the bridge over the Gros Ventre River on Spring Gulch Road.

Web Majestic Bull in Sagebrush Dec24

Bull Moose Moving Through Sagebrush: Taken near Ditch Creek north of Kelly.  There were two nice bulls hanging around together, plus another anterless moose grazing in the sagebrush. I had to wait for the clouds to clear, then got quite a few keeper images. This big bull bedded down not too long after I made my way to the area, but he went down in a pretty good spot for photography. Often, they will bed with a big sage bush in front of them or with their head in shadows. I typically snap a few images and leave. This is one of the biggest bulls in the area—and I know he will be losing his antlers soon—so I hung around quite a while. He eventually fell asleep and rolled completely over on his side. When he woke up, he had snow stuck on the antler that had been in the snow. Some of them will make nice images. It was well worth the wait!

Web Grand Peaks Dec24

Grand Peaks: Taken from the sage flats north of Kelly. Thick clouds I found early had begun to burn off to reveal a beautiful blue sky.

Web Sagebrush Tips Dec24

Sagebrush Tips: Taken along the East Boundary Road north of Kelly while waiting for a moose to look up. With early morning light, there are a “gazillion” similar opportunities if they suit your fancy.

Web Bighorn Ram Dec24

Bighorn Ram With Eye On A Nearby Ewe: Taken on the National Elk Refuge. There is still quite a bit of rut activity on the Refuge, although I am not sure if any of them have been butting heads lately.

Tidbits: The National Elk Refuge is now offering Sleigh Ride Tours right into the herds of elk on the refuge. It might be the best tour value in Jackson Hole!

December 23, 2013  | 7:00 AM: 18°F : Sunrise 7:54 AM, Sunset 4:51 PM :  High Temp Forecast 28°F

Today’s Outing: Just a quick trip around to Kelly, across Antelope Flats Road, and home. There were lots of Bison north of Kelly and east of Mormon Row. I saw a few Moose near Ditch Creek, none of which had antlers. A herd of elk were frantically running north out of Ditch Creek, as if being chased by something. That caused a Cow Moose and Calf to spook along with them. There was a low cloud hoovering just above the valley floor, sometimes sifting out a few snow flakes onto the sagebrush.

WebWatchful Moose Dec23

Watchful Moose: Taken on the East Boundary Road towards the Mormon Row barns.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 200 mm, 1/320 at f/7.1, Aperture priority Mode, 0 EV,  ISO 640, ©2013 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Mornon Row Dec23

John Moulton Barn: Taken from Antelope Flats road towards the north end of Blacktail Butte.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 250 mm, 1/800 at f/7.1, Aperture priority Mode, 0 EV,  ISO 640, ©2013 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Moulton Barn Dec23

Thomas A. Moulton Barn: Taken near Mormon Row road.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 350 mm, 1/200 at f/7.1, Aperture priority Mode, 0 EV,  ISO 125, ©2013 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Chambers Barn Dec23

Chambers Barn and Homestead: Taken from the field north of the barn. The snow is about knee deep there now. Obviously, Antelope Flats Road is still open, but I doubt for much longer.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/160 at f/7.1, Aperture priority Mode, 0 EV,  ISO 125, ©2013 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved


December 22, 2013  | 7:00 AM: 18°F : Sunrise 7:54 AM, Sunset 4:50 PM :  High Temp Forecast 28°F

Today’s Outing:  I made another trip down to Alpine Junction this morning, hoping for Mountain Goats in the snow, with snow falling, and on the rocks. I got a little bit of what I had hoped to capture. The herd near the mouth of the canyon stayed up high today or back out of easy view. A couple walked across the rocks, so I managed to get a few shots. A small group came down to the side of the road. There was a light wind, but overall, it was pleasant most of the day.

Web MountainGoat In Rocks Dec22

Mountain Goat in Rocks: Taken in the Snake River Canyon, near the mouth of the canyon near Alpine Junction.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/800 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, 1/3 EV,  ISO 800, ©2013 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Mountain By Rock Dec22

Mountain Goat Next to Boulder:

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/200 at f/7.1, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 800, ©2013 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Goat Above Rocks Dec22

Mountain Goat Billy Above Rocks:

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/800 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, 1/3 EV,  ISO 800, ©2013 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved


December 21, 2013  | 7:00 AM: 18°F : Sunrise 7:52 AM, Sunset 4:50 PM :  High Temp Forecast 23°F

Welcome to the Beginning of Winter! That’s what is says on the calendar anyway. We’ve been in the Winter season for quite a while here, of course. More importantly, today is the shortest day of the year.

Web Mtn Goat On Rocks Dec21

Today’s Outing: I headed down to Alpine Junction this morning and found some Mountain Goats as I neared the mouth of the canyon. Finding Mountain Goats hasn’t been too difficult lately—if you are patient anyway—but getting them crossing the rocks is quite a bit more of a challenge.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/1000 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, 0 EV,  ISO 500, ©2013 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Mtn Goat Wound Dec21

Yes, It Left a Mark: If you scroll down this page to the December 13th entries, you can see a goat getting gored by another goat. I can’t say this is one of the same goats, but you can definitely see the results of a recent confrontation.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/640 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, 0 EV,  ISO 640, ©2013 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web The Climb Dec21

The Climb: This pair of Mountain Goats grazed through the dense brush near the mouth of the canyon, then had to make the climb back up the mountain.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 260 mm, 1/1600 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, 0 EV,  ISO 640, ©2013 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Immature Bald Eagle Dec21

Immature Bald Eagle: This eagle was perched in a dead standing tree near one of the pullouts at the mouth of the canyon. The mask, or streak across the eyes actually resembles an Osprey.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/4000 at f/6.3, Aperture priority Mode, -1/3 EV,  ISO 1000, ©2013 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved.


December 20, 2013  | 7:00 AM: 4°F : Sunrise 7:53 AM, Sunset 4:49 PM :  High Temp Forecast 22°F

Today in Jackson Hole:  Just one shot for today! I drove over the the National Elk Refuge at lunch time. I didn’t take any shots, even though there were a few Bighorns around. I was adding a few Christmas lights outside today and had six or seven Trumpeter Swans fly right over my head. I figured that was some sort of omen coaxing me to go the the Swan Pond near Boyle’s Hill. Around 2:30 pm, I did just that! What little light we had earlier was blocked by the clouds. I took this shot just to show what you might see at the pond. There were around 20 or so Trumpeters, a lot of Mallard Ducks, and a few Canada Geese. I hung around for a while, but none of them flew in or out. I added a map to the pond on this page: Outside the Park: Alternative Places to Visit, Hike, Fish, and Photograph . If you haven’t seen this page, I’d suggest quick visit! It might enhance your Jackson Hole experience.

Web Boyles Hill Swans Dec20_1400px

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/3200 at f/6.3, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 1000, ©2013 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved. Click the image to see it larger.

Homework: Some people like seeing the shooting data with the photos on this site. . I’ve added it on some of the feature pages, but it has been a pain in the rear to go back to LR and find the info, then type it for the blog post. I asked a question at about extracting specific EXIF shooting data into some sort of text file. It has taken a few days and quite a bit of prodding, but a Nikonian named Bob figured out a very elegant and easy solution in the form of a LR Plug-in. Maybe Adobe will implement something similar in a future release. If you are a Nikon shooter and need technical information about just about anything to do with photography and software for photographers, I’d recommend joining! If you are a Nikonians member, you can read the entire thread here: Extracting EXIF Data from a Photo. Thanks to Bob’s help, I can include it almost all the time.

Tidbits: The temperatures dropped considerably and clouds are thick again. Weather reports predict possible snow for the weekend and into the week next week.  My Nikon 200-400mm lens has been stuck on my D4 for all of December. That’s worked out fairly well, especially if you look at all of the wildlife images below. It is probably the combination I would have been using all along anyway. I made arrangements with Nikon Professional Services (NPS) to get a loaner 200-400mm lens for the first couple of weeks of January while my combination is back in Los Angeles for service. They were very friendly and accommodating.


December 19, 2013  | 7:00 AM: 26°F : Sunrise 7:53 AM, Sunset 4:49 PM :  High Temp Forecast 31°F

Today in Jackson Hole:  After a few days of warming weather, it got a little colder last night. Fog was thick early this morning—crushing any hopes of getting a few more setting moon shots. I considered going out to see if I might find some Moose in the fog, but decided to work on the computer instead. Just after lunch, I made a quick trip to the Elk Refuge and looked for Cedar Waxwings on the trip in both directions. The Refuge was quiet and I didn’t see Waxwings. The morning fog changed to light snow with a brisk wind.  Patches of light are breaking through as I write this post.Web Chickadee Dec19

Black-capped Chickadee: I set up in the back yard and caught a few Chickadees willing to stop for a split second for a photo.

Web House Sparrow Dec19

House Sparrow: As common as House Sparrows seem to be, I find it relatively difficult to get a good shot of one. This one must have been hungry.

Web Bighorn Chase Dec16

Bighorn Chase from December 16: As I was downloading the shots of the birds, I found a few Bighorns from a few days ago I hadn’t copied to the computer.

Web Passing Under the Arch Dec19

Antler Arches: I made a quick trip back to the Town Square late this afternoon for a few more shots. I added them to this page: Christmas Lights! A Few Images From the Jackson Town Square

Web Cowboy Bar Nov19

Cowboy Bar: I took this shot just after getting to the Square tonight. The exposure was long enough to get streaks from passing cars.


December 18, 2013  | 7:00 AM: 26°F : Sunrise 7:52 AM, Sunset 4:48 PM :  High Temp Forecast 34°F

Web Moon Set at SRO Dec18

Moon Setting at Snake River Overlook: I figured I could shoot mostly panoramic images of the setting sun if I went to SRO this morning. At this time of the morning in December, the moon is a ball of creamy white, with very little detail. I shot with a D800 and a 24-70 lens today, on a tripod of course!

Web SRO Wide Dec18

The Grand to Mt. Moran: I took a few wide shots at 24mm, mainly to use on the blog post for today.  I also shot series of panoramic parts that I can stitch together in Photoshop for some huge image possibilities. This one was cropped to roughly a 2:1 aspect ratio. The streaky diagonal clouds near Mt. Moran came into play a short while after this image. The moon dipped behind some of them and essentially obscured it for some of the better few moments. Everything appeared to be setting up for a spectacular Alpenglow period, but it never really happened.

Web SRO Morning Dec18

Clouds Over the Teton Range: The clouds that covered the moon eventually blew south and helped the morning sunrise shots. Again, this is a cropped wide angle shot, vs a stitched pano. I had considered several other locations for today. The moon would have been south of the Grand if I had gone to the Mormon Row barns, Shane Cabin, or the Wedding Trees, but could have been included in the shots. I’ve been to those places several times recently, so I opted to go north and do something different. I am happy enough with the outing!

Web Passing Moose Dec18

Passing Moose: On the way home, I found a few Moose north of Kelly. By the time I got there, they were already beginning to bed down. By 9:00 am, they were all down.


December 17, 2013  | 7:00 AM: 7°F : Sunrise 7:51 AM, Sunset 4:48 PM :  High Temp Forecast 34°F, Full Moon 2:28

Web GTNP Entrance Dec17

Morning: Taken along the road near the “Welcome to GTNP” sign as I was heading north.

Web Blacktail And Tetons Dec17

Blacktail Butte Ridgeline: Taken along the Gros Ventre road over the south end of Blacktail Butte.

Web Top fo the Grand Dec17

Top of the Grand: Taken across a small saddle in Blacktail Butte.

Web Grand Peaks Dec17

Grand Peaks: This image was taken on the East Boundary Road, just south of Ditch Creek. Normally, I like to include some sort of foreground subject, such as a moose, but still shoot a few without it. It can’t hurt…and it makes me happy!

Web Frosted Cottonwood Dec17

Frosted Cottonwoods: Taken on Mormon Row, looking Southeast towards Sleeping Indian mountain.

Web Mormon Bicycle Dec17

Mormon Bicycle: I spent a little time on Mormon Row this morning. The sun was low in the south, casting long shadows everywhere.  I might consider making this one into a black and white or sepia toned image. This one was taken at the Bed and Breakfast. It’s closed for the season.

I managed to find quite a few subjects that interested me there today. Instead of posting all of them in this Daily Updates page, I’ll try to create a new page and post it today or tomorrow. This is a good time to suggest readers to become “followers” by adding your email address in the box in the upper right navigation panel.

Quick Morning Notes: I saw a total of 21 moose today, mostly just south of Ditch Creek. Of that group, I could see about 5 bulls still sporting their antlers. Antelope Flats Road is still open. Bison and Elk are gathering in large numbers in the sagebrush and hay fields north of Kelly. Hunting is still going on in the National Elk Refuge, so they appear to be content to stay out of there and in GTNP for a while. Here’s a new Feature page: A December Morning Along Mormon Row:


December 16, 2013  | 7:00 AM: 13°F : Sunrise 7:50 AM, Sunset 4:48 PM :  High Temp Forecast 26°F

Web Bison and Tetons Dec16

Bison in Front of the Tetons: Taken just north of Kelly just after the sun cleared the mountain.

Web Kelly Warm Springs Cottonwood Dec16

Glistening Cottonwood at the Kelly Warm Springs: Taken from the East Boundary Road looking east.

Road Notes: The river bottoms along the Snake are now closed from Moose to Pacific Creek. This includes Schwabacher Landing. Antelope Flats Road was still open today. It is still essentially clear, but the Park Service will close it after the next big snowfall. There are two dirt roads off the East Boundary road that often get barricaded in mid-December. They were not blocked today. They are passable, but I’d recommend a 4-wheel drive vehicle. December 15 marked the end of access to other roads and areas around Jackson Hole.

Christmas Streaks and Arch Dec15

Christmas Lights: Last night, I went to the Town Square and took a few photos for a new Feature Post: Christmas Lights! A Few Images From the Jackson Town Square. Hope you enjoy them!


December 15, 2013  | 7:00 AM: 14°F : Sunrise 7:48 AM, Sunset 4:48 PM :  High Temp Forecast 26°F

Web Shane Cabin with Lightpainting Dec15

Early Hours at the Shane Cabin: Taken long before first light, I used a 2 Million Candle Power flashlight to add light to the cabin and snow. The Shane Cabin images were taken with a Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Web Shane Cabin Sunrise Dec15

Morning Glow at the Shane Cabin: Taken not long after the image above, but without the aid of the flashlight and farther back.

Web Sunrise Dec15

Sunrise and Trees at the Shane Cabin: The sun began to filter through the morning clouds in the East (behind me) and created a wonderful light show.

Web Shane In Peach Dec15

Sunrise in Peach and Lavender: The sunrise colors in the previous photo created the lighting above. I had been to this area every morning for the past week, but didn’t get the colors, or the Tetons were clouded in. The one morning I might have captured a similar shot, I stopped to shoot at the end of Blacktail Butte and also to get a few shots of the bison. I know the Shane Cabin will be there all Winter, so the option to capture Bison seemed like a better choice at the time. If you haven’t checked out the old posts, I’d certainly recommend it! One of my first posts at this blog was Teton Sunrises: It Takes Two to Tango . I talked about the importance of having good color in the East to help the Sunrise in the West.

Web Mormon Row Dec15

Mormon Row: It looked like I might get a break in the clouds, so I stopped at the Barns and waited.  I had maybe 10 minutes of good light and it was over! This one was taken from the south side of Antelope Flats road, shooting over it towards the homestead. You can see the road in the photo if you know to look for it. I was using the Nikon D800 and the Nikon 70-200mm lens on a tripod.

Web Bighorn Ram By Grass

Bighorn Ram by High Grass: Taken at Miller Butte on the National Elk Refuge.

Web Bighorn Ram Dec15

Bighorn Ram Portrait: I took this shot as the ram crossed the road. The Bighorn images were taken with a Nikon D4 and Nikon 200-400mm lens.

Web Sheep On The Rocks_Dec15

Bighorn Ewe Surrounded by Rams: The Ewe near the top of the rock attracted half a dozen eager Rams. She stayed on the same rock for over an hour and a half and was still there when I left.

Week(s) In Review: During this period of the year, I normally start out the morning looking for good sunrise opportunities. It has been VERY cold! That’s followed by the search for Moose, Bison, Pronghorns, Elk, and Mule Deer in the areas north of Kelly. If the light looks okay, I often stop at the barns, then backtrack to town. By that time, the Bighorns might be down. In town, I have been looking for Cedar Waxwings. If I have time and gas money, I might go down the canyon to Alpine Junction to take my chances with the Mountain Goats. Instead of outlining it every day, I decided to just show the results for a while.

Most of the past week or two have been essentially the same, however, the Bull Moose are beginning to drop their antlers. I’ve been shooting them aggressively since the early part of August, but I still like to capture all I can of them in the snow before they lose their antlers. Out of around 16 moose I saw today, I only saw three of them with antlers—but some of them were very far off and might have still had them. Bighorns have been more active and are chasing ewes. That should continue for another week or two. Swans are still around, mostly at the Swan Pond near Boyle’s Hill. I haven’t seen the Waxwings in about a week. Maybe another wave of them will pass through. Mountain Goats have been down from the hillsides much earlier this year. I don’t know if this is a passing anomaly, or if they will stay down all winter. I had a couple of good days and a couple of duds down there. There are thousands of Elk on the National Elk Refuge now. As I was passing the Kelly Warm Springs this morning (still in the dark), there were several hundred Elk surrounding the Springs and a lot more in the aspens and on the nearby hillsides. I could hear their chirping while I was taking photos at the Shane Cabin.


December 14, 2013  | 7:00 AM: 5°F : Sunrise 7:48 AM, Sunset 4:47 PM :  High Temp Forecast 27°F

Web Mule Deer Buck Dec14

Buck Mule Deer: Taken just north of Kelly, WY. There several Mule Deer in the area.

Web Ram On Ridge Dec14

Bighorn Ram on Ledge: Image captured at Miller Butte on the National Elk Refuge.


December 13, 2013  | 7:00 AM: -5°F : Sunrise 7:47 AM, Sunset 4:48 PM :  High Temp Forecast 17°F

Web Bull Moose Aspens Dec13

Majestic Moose in Aspens: Taken north of Antelope Flats Road on the East Boundary Road. Aspens were still covered with hoar frost at the time.

Web Mule Deer Dec13

Mule Deer: Taken along the East BoundaryRoad (north of Kelly) not far from the Kelly Warm Springs. There was a nice buck in the group, but I didn’t get many shots of him with his head up.

Web Elk Herd Dec13

Elk Herd: Taken just north of Kelly looking towards Blacktail Butte.

Web Bighorn Chase Dec13

Bighorn Chase: This is a cropped, long distance shot of a Bighorn Ewe being chased by a couple of Rams on Miller Butte on the National Elk Refuge.

Web Bighorns Chasing EweDec13

Bighorn Rams Chasing a Ewe:  Miller Butte on the National Elk Refuge.

Web Goat Scuffle Dec13

Mountain Goat Confrontation: This was taken in the Snake River Canyon near Alpine Junction. I suspect this left a mark! A few of the Nannies have collars this year. Not long after this shot, the Game & Fish Ranger came by and spooked all of them back up the hill. They didn’t come back down while I was there.

Web Swans Dec13

Swan Stretching: Taken at the Swan Pond near Boyle’s Hill.


December 12, 2013  | 7:00 AM: -4°F : Sunrise 7:47 AM, Sunset 4:47 PM :  High Temp Forecast 25°F

Web etons Over Blacktail Dec12

Tetons over Blacktail Butte: Taken along the Gros Ventre Road on my way to Kelly. Nikon D800 and 70-200 mm lens

Web Frosted Bison Dec12

Frosted Bison: Taken along the Gros Ventre Road near Kelly, looking north during the Alpenglow period. Nikon D800 and 70-200 mm lens

Web Young Bull Dec12

Young Bull and the Tetons: Taken along Ditch Creek Road near the Teton Science School. Nikon D800 and 70-200 mm lens

Web First Hint Of Dawn Dec12

First Hint of Light on the Murphy Barn: Taken from Antelope Flats road, looking north towards Mt. Moran. Nikon D800 and 70-200 mm lens

Web On The Rocks Dec12

On The Rocks: Taken in the afternoon not far from the mouth of the Snake River Canyon near Alpine Junction.

Web Green Snack Dec12

Green Snacks: Mountain Goat Nanny taken with a Nikon D4 and 200-300mm lens in the Snake River Canyon

Web Quick Descent Dec12

Quick Descent: A Mountain Goat Kid coming down in a hurry in the Snake River Canyon.

Web Game Ranger Dec12

Turn Out the Lights, the Party Is Over:  A Wyoming Game and Fish Ranger stopped to run the Goats back up the hill using a snapping whip.


December 11, 2013  | 7:00 AM: -4°F : Sunrise 7:47 AM, Sunset 4:45 PM :  High Temp Forecast 17°F

Web Morning Moose Dec11

Morning Moose: There were four Bull Moose along Ditch Creek Road. The fourth one was a small bull and was just out of sight for this shot. I was shooting again today with my Nikon D4 and Nikon 200-400mm lens.

Web Moose Trio Dec11

The Gathering: Three of the Bulls met in the road and did some sparring. At times, there were four.

Web Moose Confrontation Dec11

Moose Confrontation: I waded out into the sagebrush to hide the road. They were still in it—but you’d hardly know it unless I told you.

Web Miller House Dec11

Historic Miller House: Taken on the National Elk Refuge just as the first glow of light began on the south end of the house. Nikon D800 and Nikon 70-200mm lens on a tripod.

Web Hillside Nanny Dec11

Hillside Nanny Goats: Snake River Canyon near Alpine Junction: I shot around 800 images and culled them down to around 40. After a while, Goats feeding all start looking the same, so I usually only keep the ones where their heads are up and looking around or walking like this one.

Web Nanny Goat Dec11

Alert Nanny: I typically shoot a lot on animals like this. They blink, stick out their tongue, or are chewing on a regular basis. It helps to have several from a sequence to be able to pick a good one.

Weather Overview: It has been very cold for the past 10 days or so. Morning fog and low clouds have been obscuring the views of the mountains in the mornings.

Winter Roads and Closures:Winter in the Tetons: Tips for travel and photography.


December 10, 2013  | 8:00 AM: 10°F : Sunrise 7:46 AM, Sunset 4:45 PM :  High Temp Forecast 12°F

This Morning: It is overcast and windy with fine snow or fog out my window. I opted to stay home this morning and work on a new Feature Post about the Shane Cabin. The post will has quite a few photos and a map to help you find it. To get an email notification for all future Feature Posts, sign up to follow the blog in the upper right navigation bar!

Web Black-Capped Chickadee Dec10

Today’s Outings: I made two trips to Miller Butte today and didn’t take a single photo. On the way there, I noticed flags standing straight out from their posts. I looked for Cedar Waxwings on both trips, but didn’t see them today. It was warmer feeling in my back yard, so I set up to photograph some of the birds that come to my feeders. The photo above is a Black-capped Chickadee.

Web Mountain Chickadee Dec10

Mountain Chickadee: Both species of Chickadees are tough to photograph. The are quick and jittery and seldom stay in the same spot for very long. They are partial to sunflower seeds.

Web Black-billed Magpie Dec10

Black-billed Magpie: Magpies are fairly common around the region. With the extremes of black and white, they can also be difficult to photograph. It is easy to block up the black or blow out the whites.

Web Blue Jay Dec10

Blue Jay on a Peanut Feeder: I don’t know if this is a male or female Blue Jay, but it is the only one I’ve ever seen in Wyoming. I mention I have one coming to my yard to other photographers and they are always surprised, too. This one is sneaky and quick. I am still having trouble getting one with a good pose with good lighting.


December 9, 2013  | 7:10 AM: -18°F : Sunrise 7:45 AM, Sunset 4:46 PM :  High Temp Forecast 4°F

Morning: The truck was sluggish starting this morning…it’s warming as I write this note (-18°F). I passed on the pre-dawn sunrise shots today. There are fewer and fewer places to photograph the Tetons where I can add interesting foreground subjects. The roads are closing and pullouts are not being plowed. Yesterday was the last day of the HUNT in GTNP, but it also means the Park Service will shut Antelope Flats road soon. It was show packed today, but still open. They typically plow it for the hunters, then leave it open until the first big snow and wind drifts fill the road. This critical road closure cuts off access to the barns and Mormon Row.  You can still hike in roughly 3/4 mile, but on mornings when it is -18°F, you’d certainly pay the price for the shots. The closure also forces you to decide whether to turn towards Kelly OR head on North at the Gros Ventre Road junction. Yesterday, I mentioned the Park Service plowed a barrier of snow at the entrance to the Chapel of the Transfiguration. I haven’t mentioned it in a long time, but the Visitor’s center at Moose is closed this winter, too. If you missed it, there is a list of the Winter Closures at the very bottom of this page. Today, I’ll be looking for moose early, then a few bighorns.

Web Gros Ventre Dec9

Today’s Outing: Clouds were covering the Tetons, but I stopped at the Gros Ventre and snapped half a dozen shots for the blog. The sky was actually nice in the south end of the valley. I made the loop today by going towards Kelly and then north from there. I found a few moose, but they were more interested in feeding than posing. From the moose, I headed back into town and out to the National Elk Refuge. All of the bigger rams were up at the tops of the ridges. I hung around a while, then headed on home. Good call! I found around 25 Cedar Waxwings this morning. I took quite a few images, but my toes started getting too cold to stand there any longer.

Web Head Down Moose Dec9

Feeding Moose: I stayed with this bull quite a while, but he never really looked up.

Web Lost Antlers Dec9

Lost Antler: This is probably the same bull I photographed a couple of days ago right after he lost his first antler. It is harder for me to identify them with missing antlers, but this one also has a very short dewlap.

Web Down Antler Dec9

Down Antler: Not the sharpest photo I took all day, but it shows one of the young bulls with a down antler. He will likely have this deformity the rest of his life and could be a liability if the big antler hangs off to one side.

Web Waxwing Dec9

Cedar Waxwing with a Mountain Ash Prize: The Waxwings fly into a Mountain Ash tree, eat four or five berries and then fly off to digest them.

Afternoon Updates and Tidbits: I had a project to finish this afternoon, then got out for a few minutes. I looked for the Waxwings, but didn’t find them. A nice ram had just crossed the road as I drove up, but he continued up the hillside. I didn’t take another shot! During the afternoon, it got cold again and the skies darkened. Photos wouldn’t have been good even if I had found subjects. Snow King Ski Resort opened over the weekend. They are making a lot of snow there right now. Flat Creek is freezing again this year and rising all through town. I am concerned for our house and may have to fill sand bags again this year. The Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is now fully open, at least that’s what I read a few days ago.   I saw my Blue Jay in the back yard yesterday and a couple of Northern Flickers today. I have been making sure the feeders are full to help out the wintering birds. We’ve trapped and removed two raccoons so far this year, but haven’t caught one in about a week.


December 8, 2013  | 6:41 AM: -4°F : Sunrise 7:44 AM, Sunset 4:46 PM :  High Temp Forecast  0°F

Morning’s Quick Comments: Cold. I can hear the wind chimes outside my window, so I know it will feel very cold. The weather channel says “Partly Cloudy” for the morning, but who knows. It’s still dark. The truck is warming. Heading out for Alpenglow…I can see a few stars. Moose are about to start dropping antlers, so I want to get more shots of them before the “season” is over this year. Thinking about taking a trip to Alpine Junction today to see if I can get lucky and see Mountain Goats, but might wait until closer to noon.

Web Sunrise Moose Dec8

Actual Outings: Much of the morning felt like something good was about to happen, but fizzled out. I headed to the Chapel of the Transfiguration for the pre-dawn light, only to find the Park Service has plowed a 4′ pile of snow into the entrance. The road looks fine, but you just can’t drive there now. I headed to the moose area north of Kelly and found a lot of moose. Many of them were very far out. The Tetons were mostly covered with frost clouds, but I headed over to the barns and set up. I got some pretty nice shots, but the clouds didn’t thin out much. I like a couple of the shots, however. I went back to the moose that were closest to the roads earlier.  They had already crossed and were heading out into the sagebrush. Another set of moose appeared to heading towards the road, so I set up again. They bedded down out in the sage. I checked for Cedar Waxwings and never found one. The sheep at Miller Butte were pretty good today. By that time, we had good light…so things felt a little better. I got a lot of shots there. Since it was Sunday, I figured I had all day to shoot. After lunch, I headed south to Alpine Junction to take my chances there. As I drove up on a group of Mountain Goats, they were heading up the mountain. I got a few record shots, but that was about it. I drove the rest of the way to Alpine Junction and saw a few more Mountain Goats way up on the mountain. I figured I had a few shots for the blog and headed home. On the way back, I saw a Nanny and Kid along the side of the road. By the time I got turned around, a snow plow spooked them up the hill. Things picked up from this point. I found the first group of goats on the rocks and took quite a few long distance shots. I did the loop again and ran into seven or eight Mountain Goats coming down to feed. They were quite tolerant of me and I took a pile of images before finally heading home. I write all of this to illustrate the fact is it not always easy to get shots. Sometimes, it feels like you are bucking a head wind all day. Some days, you don’t get shots at all. Persistence paid off some today.

Web Sunrise Barn Dec8

Morning at the Moulton Barn: We had a touch of light at the ground and another band of light on the top of the Grand. I’d have liked this one a little bit more if it had cleared some. After a few shots, the fog clouds covered the mountains again.

Web Moose Cow Calf Dec8

Scared Moose: These two Moose were spooked by gun shots near Blacktail Butte. They were cruising in the opposite direction. The good news…the hunt in Grand Teton National Park ended today! No need to wear orange anymore.

Web Ram Jumping Dec8

Young Ram Jumping: I learned from my mistakes a couple of days ago and made sure my shutter speed was 1/1000th of a second or higher. I got lots of shots similar to this today on Miller Butte.

Web Goat On Ledge Dec8

Billy on a Ledge: This Mountain Goat was a pretty good poser for me today. It was taken in the Snake River Canyon near Alpine Junction.

Web Nanny Digging Dec8

Nanny Digging For Food: This Nanny was pawing through the snow to get to the grass below.

Web Goat Face Dec8

Nanny Portrait: One group of Mountain Goats was grazing near the road—moving slowly up the canyon. I set up along the road and they grazed right to me. A loud truck would spook them some, but they kept coming back to feed.

More Mountain Goats: If you’d like to see more Mountain Goats at my Teton Images site, CLICK HERE!

Totals: I ended up shooting 3128 images today. After getting them into the computer, I culled them to 312 images and pulled out a few of those for the blog post above. Other than the barn shots, I shot with the D4 and 200-400mm lens all day. The barn was photographed with a Nikon D800 and Nikon 70-200 lens. Oh yes, the first moose shot with the backlit morning sky was taken with the D800, hand held.


December 7, 2013 | 6:12 AM: -2°F : Sunrise 7:43 AM, Sunset 4:47 PM :  High Temp Forecasted 10°F

Today’s Outing: It was cloudy with the frosty clouds blocking the Grand and the rest of the Teton Range. I spent the morning with moose along the East Boundary Road north of Kelly. It was cold, but not as uncomfortable as the last two mornings. Hunters killed a couple of elk just north of the Moose and they were edgy, especially when a few elk ran across the sagebrush. I managed to get a lot of good shots of Moose with their heads up and alert. Most mornings, they spend a lot of the time with their heads down in the sagebrush or looking down for their next bitter bush. The photos below will give you an idea of what I saw this morning. I’ll be working on my better images from today and will post them after the 15th.

Web Pre-Dawn Elk Dec7

Pre-Dawn Bull Elk: This group of bull elk was trying to cross the Gros Ventre Road near Kelly at 7:45 am. The sun wouldn’t clear the hills in the east for another 45 minutes.

Web Lost Antler Dec7

Lost Antler: More than likely, this moose lost his first antler only a few hours earlier. At first, I thought this was Washakie, but I saw that bull a little later with both antlers.

Web Bull Moose Dec7

Majestic Bull Moose on the Move:  I always look for this bull moose. He has one of the most impressive set of antlers of the group I’ve been seeing all winter.

Web Majestic Lip Curl Dec7

Lip Curl: While most of the rut is over, bulls still lip curl or display the Flehmen Response.

Web Moose Face Dec7

Bull’s Face: Here’s a tight crop of a Bull Moose at the end of a lip curl or Flehmen Response.

Web Washakie Walking Dec7

Washakie: This bull is walking around with no visible limp now.

Web Bulls Sparring Dec7

Sparring Moose: These two bull moose used the open terrain of the road to do a little sparring. Earlier, the bulls used the snow marker as a willow bush, rubbing their antlers against it.

Web Elk In Gros Ventre Dec7

Elk Huddled in the Gros River Bottom: This group of Elk were trying to cross the highway just north of the Gros Ventre River bridge, but spooked back into the river bottom. It looked like they wanted to cross the river, but turned around just before I got the tripod set up.

Web Young Ram Dec7

Young Bighorn Ram: I drove to Miller Butte to find a few rams off the ridge, but there didn’t seem to be much going on today.

Wildlife and Tidbits: On my way back to Jackson, I counted seven Ruff-legged Hawks on the fence posts along the National Elk Refuge. Bighorn Sheep were out on the Refuge, but most of the rams were high on the butte. I couldn’t find any Cedar Waxwings today.


December 6, 2013 | 6:12 AM: -15°F : Sunrise 7:42 AM, Sunset 4:47 PM >>

Another Day in the Deep Freeze:  Cold, but not as windy as yesterday. I was out early hoping for Alpenglow, but there were too many clouds in the East and too much fog in the West.

Web Moulton Barn Dec6

Sunrise at the Thomas A. Moulton Barn: Fog turns to ice crystals at -15°F. It covered much of the mountains this morning, but I had a few minutes with the peak of the Grand showing. About the time I thought it might be starting to get good, the clouds filled back in.

Web North Barn Dec6

Looking North: I saw these fences covered with snow yesterday and took a few minutes to photograph them this morning. I’d have liked to have had more light on this scene. I hung around for a little while, but started getting cold and headed back to the truck.

Web Kelly Yurt Dec6

Kelly Yurt: Smoke was streaming out of this yurt in Kelly this morning. Shot from the window of the truck with the D4 and 200-400mm lens.

Web Pronghorns Dec6

Wintering Pronghorns: Normally, the area Pronghorns migrate south for the winter, but about 40 of them appear to be wintering in the Tetons this year.

Web Bighorns Dec6

Bighorn Ram and Ewe on Rocks: Sheep are well into the rut now on Miller Butte in the National Elk Refuge.

Web Rams Dec6

Bighorn Rams: This younger ram kept trying to get into the rut action and was constantly being run off. I had a few chances to take long distance shots of rams standing on the ridgelines. When there isn’t any action involved, I sometimes dial the aperture up to F/11 or so on the D4 and 200-400mm. I seem to get sharper long distance photos that way. I did it today, but forgot to dial it back to F/7.1 to F/8. For many of the running and action shots, the higher aperture setting caused the shutter speed to be too slow to stop the action. It varied some based on whether they were in the shadows or out in the snow. The images at 1/640th second were usually sharp, while most of them below that were less sharp than I’d have preferred. Ideally, I would have liked to have a shutter speed of 1/1250th second to 1/1600th second for the action shots. The image above was shot at ISO 500, 1/640th Second at F/11 in Aperture Priority.  I could have easily gone up to ISO 800 to 1000 and dropped to F/7.1 on these shots.

Web Cedar Waxwing Dec6

Cedar Waxwing on Berries: I found around 40 Cedar Waxwings feeding on Mountain Ash berries on my way home. I went back later in the day and found them feeding again. There were a few Bohemian Waxwings in the group, too.

Totals: I am late posting this today. I shot over 5,500 images today and it is taking some extra time to go through them. I had a lot of rut action at the Bighorns, shooting a lot of images there. I also took a lot of images of the Waxwings. Out of around 1800 Waxwing images, I kept 78. I’m still going through the Bighorns! I saw quite a few moose while out early this morning, but they were either in deep sagebrush or too far out. I also saw eight or nine bull elk at Mailbox corner, but it was still too dark to photograph them.


December 5, 2013

A Cold Winter Morning in Jackson Hole: At -22°F, lots of things function more slowly than on a nice summer day! Some don’t function at all! I drove out early and found a few moose in Grand Teton National Park. I stayed in the truck until the first hints of light. The truck was working hard to keep the interior of the cab even reasonably warm. I opened a pair of hand warmers, shook them, and put them in the palms of my mid-weight gloves. I trekked through 10″ deep snow and sagebrush to get close enough to the moose to take photos. By the time I made it to them, I was frosted over and chilled. The brisk wind didn’t help either. The normally smooth turning Arca-Swiss Ball Head on my tripod was very stiff. Last night, I cleaned my tripod and added new bushings, so it worked fairy well today. In the past few weeks, it had been freezing at the joints. The toggle buttons on my D4 were stiff and “sluggish” at -22°F, but still functioned. I took my rangefinder with me, as I usually do when I walk out to moose. It worked, but took a few extra seconds to register a distance. I guess it could have just been a result of my stiff fingers and gloves. After about 45 minutes of shooting, the moose moved up to the sage flats and into the wind. I headed back towards the truck as fast I could.

On these mornings, you can develop a healthy respect for the Mormons that settled in this valley in the late 1800s. They’d still need to feed the livestock and do necessary chores from the back of a horse drawn wagon or sled—wearing their warmest cotton and wool outerwear.  The wind and cold is relentless here in the Winter. We have high-tech goose down jackets and parkas with Gore-Tex or Thinsulate linings, hand warmers, and a warm truck or vehicle to get back into when we are finished viewing the landscape or photographing the area. George W. Bush used to say, “Don’t mess with Texans”, but I’d put a bunch of Mormons up

against them any day!

Web Washakie In Snow Dec5

Washakie in Snow: This bull had a bad limp earlier in the year, but I didn’t see any signs of it today. I got quite a few nice shots of them in the morning light and creek bottom. I’d hike out again, but at those temperatures, it is dangerously cold and very uncomfortable.

Web Three Bull Moose Dec5

Three Bull Moose in Winter: This shot shows all three nice bulls from this morning. It’s not the best photo I ever took, but I posted it here to show what I was seeing. After they climbed the hill, they were in the sagebrush and bitter morning wind. By that time, I was frozen and booked it back to the truck to warm up. Web Ghost Grand Dec5 Grand Ghost: There was a morning cloud or fog bank along the base of the mountains today. The Grand was essentially covered by the fog until I drove north on the East Boundary Road where I took this quick shot. Web Elk Crossing Dec5

Elk Crossing the Highway: On the way back into town, I saw a herd of elk split up on either side of the Highway 89/191 at the Gros Ventre Road junction.  The park ranger stopped traffic to let the big herd of 150 cross towards the west. You can see the low fog or cloud in the background.

Web Elk On The Refuge Dec5

Elk on the Refuge: This small herd were walking parallel with the highway. I shot it from the road. They were slightly backlit, but the light lit their warm breath in the cold air.

Web Ram on Cliffs Dec5

Bighorn Ram on Cliffs: Bighorns were scattered all around Miller Butte on the National Elk Refuge.  Most were on the flats, but I caught this ram crossing the cliffs while following a group of sheep in rut behavior.

Morning Notes: While driving around this morning, I saw a herd of about 10 bull Elk just a few hundreds north of Kelly. The area was still well in the shadows, so I didn’t stop to try to photograph them. I saw at least two beautiful Ruf-legged Hawks on the fence posts along the Elk Refuge fence along the highway. Flat Creek was frozen solid and barren of any kind of waterfowl today. I saw some wolf tracks on the trail of the elk on the East Boundary Road.

>> December 4, 2013,

Today’s Outing: I looked out side early this morning and saw stars in the night sky. So, load up and head out….right? The morning temperature was something like -7°F on my home thermometer.  As I was driving north, the clouds filled in. It’d have been easy to turn back home, but I stayed on course.. When I got to Antelope Flats road, I made quick detour to check out Blacktail Ponds Overlook.  It was snowed in already. Eventually, I made it to the barns.  The temperature was -11°F with a slight breeze to make it feel even worse. That kind of cold can hurt you in short order! Web Sunrise Barn Dec4

Sunrise at the Barns: I shot a few with the dull light, then got back in the truck to warm up. A few minutes later, part of the Grand lit up, so I shot a few more.

Web Big Bull Moose Dec4

Mr. Majestic: This is one of my favorite bull moose this winter. He has extra wide antlers that sweep back over his body. The early clouds started burning off not long after I found the moose. Web Two Bulls Dec4

Two Bulls: Two additional bull moose strolled in this morning, creating a good ol’ Moose Jam along the road…Ranger watching and all. Web Moose Dec4

Bull Moose in Sagebrush: Bull Moose gather north of Kelly to graze on the bitterbrush found there. I counted around 20 moose today, including five near Moose Junction along the highway. Web Miller House Dec4

Miller House on the National Elk Refuge: I was sufficiently frozen while at the moose jam—and probably left before I should—but I headed back into town with a stop for some hot chocolate. By the time I made it to the National Elk Refuge, I had thawed back out—at least to a tolerable level. This shot was taken at 10:00 AM on my way to Miller Butte. Web Sleeping Indian Dec4

Sleeping Indian after a new snowfall: I shot this image from the Elk Refuge Road with the 200-400mm lens. There’s no foreground subject in this one, but I added it here to show the new snowfall. Web Bighorns Dec4

Bighorn Rams: There were over 60 sheep at Miller Butte today. I heard one bash echo through the valley, but I didn’t see a lot of bashing today. I didn’t see the bigger rams at all. Totals: Yesterday, I shot around 665 images and culled them down to around 35 keepers and around 8 for the blog web pages. Today, I shot about the same number between the two cameras. I’d guess I will cull them down to around 65. The moose were sparring some today, so I typically keep more of them than when they are just standing around in the sagebrush.

Need Christmas Gift? I just printed, signed and shipped one of these prints to a lady for a Christmas gift for her husband. If you are interested, you can purchase it from the Photoshelter site at 16″x20″ for $140 (plus a few dollars shipping) and the fulfillment center will send it to you. If you’d like a signed print, I print them here and ship them from Jackson Hole for $200 plus $15 Priority US Mail (in the US), available with a direct PayPal purchase. “Sunset Dispute” appeared in the February issue of Cowboys & Indians Magazine in the Equine Division of “Photographing the West”. There are lots of other images at my regular web site at . Signed prints from any of them are also available.

December 3, 2013,

This morning in JH: It stayed just above freezing much of the day yesterday and either drizzled or dropped wet, sloppy snow. By night, it cooled down a few degrees and we had a light snow in town. I woke up to the snowplows going through the neighborhood. Later in the morning, I went north with my wife to Lost Creek Ranch. We took the all-wheel drive Toyota Sienna. The roads north were icy and snow packed all the way. Apparently, while we had temps just above freezing yesterday, the north country was getting snow. We tried to drive the road to Lost Creek Ranch and ended up temporarily stuck and had to turn around. The mountains were socked in with clouds, but much of the valley floor was lit up by the sun. On our way back, I drove to Antelope Flats road. It’s still open. When we returned home, I drove my truck to Miller Butte. Web Rams In Road Dec3

Today’s Mid-day Outing: Miller Butte was still sunny when I got there. Several groups of sheep were scattered along the road from the Miller House to the first rocks, and then another small herd was just past the first rocks. Bighorns often come down to the road on the National Elk Refuge to feed on grasses and occasionally lick the salt dropped from vehicles. Sometimes, they lick the salt and residue from trucks and cars parked alongside the road.

Web Rams Dec3


Rams are displaying rut behavior regularly now.

Web Ram Portrait Dec3 Bighorns are not afraid of humans while in the Refuge and will occasionally graze right up to you.

Web Ram Face Dec3

This was taken at close range with a Nikon 200-400mm lens on a Nikon D4. This is full frame, with no crop. The EXIF shooting data says I was at 290mm at the time. A Nikon 200-400mm lens can focus to within only 5 feet. Amazing! I hit the scene at just the right time right after lunch. I had fairly bright, filtered sunlight the whole time I was there. It would have been easy to spend the entire afternoon there, but I have a few projects to complete. As I was driving back into town, clouds filled in and we have overcast skies and muted, flat light. Flat Creek was skinned over with ice, with a few open patches this morning. A few swans were still in the area, but it looked quiet there. I headed home to make the blog post for today.

JH Tidbits: The detours through town are finally over for the Winter. Construction crews are continuing to add lights and sidewalks, but traffic is flowing again. Unleaded Gas is $3.18 all over town with a couple of places still at $3.39. Most of the town is now decorated for the holidays. Traffic is picking back up with Teton Village ski area open for the season.

>> December 2, 2013

This Morning: When I woke up this morning, I expected to see a white and frozen landscape.  Instead, the temps stayed slightly above freezing all night and it’s just wet, windy, and gray. My wife let me know they got 11″ of snow at Teton Village overnight, but we got mainly rain and slush in town. I plan on going out later in the day, so check back.  Mid-day: I drove over to the Elk Refuge just after lunch and found Bighorns by the road. A few ewes and lambs were grazing, but the rams were bedded down. Temps remained just above freezing, so the precipitation was a mix of rain and slushy snow. I hung around a little while and headed back into town. I checked Flat Creek. There were a few swans scattered around and a few ducks. The water was gray and choppy from the wind. I came home with no photos for the day.

>> December 1, 2013… A New Month! Winter Storm Warning from Sun, 11am until Tue, 5am MST

Today’s Outing: I spent my time today at Miller Butte on the National Elk Refuge. I took 2000 images, mainly because of the rut action and variety of the weather. Wind was blowing hard, making it feel colder than it really was. Web Wind Blown Ewe Dec1 Wind Blown Ewe: The wind was blowing the snow sideways most of the day. You can see how it was “piling up sideways” on the rocks.

Web Parade Of Ewes Dec1

Parade of Ewes: A large group of ewes walked by me, but it didn’t go unnoticed by one of the rams. Web Safety Ledge Dec1

Safety on the Ledge: A ram chased one of the ewes all over the rock faces. She found refuge on a small ledge and stayed there over an hour. Web Ewe Jumping Dec1

Leaving the Ledge: This isn’t the sharpest of the group of shots, but it shows the action fairly well as she jumped off the ledge. Web Chase Dec1

The Chase: The rut is on now. Several rams chased this collared ewe onto the hillside south of the butte, then back across the road and towards the butte. Web Young Ram Dec1

Youngster’s Challenge: This younger ram reared to this ram twice, but he didn’t fight back either time. Web Caress Dec1

Gentle Caress: The ewe was just overhead on the ledge, but these two rams didn’t clash.

Web Sky Line Ram Dec1

Sky Line Ram: This is one of the last shots I took today. It was getting late and I shot this one at a long distance through a lot of snow.

Wildlife Reports: Currently, I am concentrating on Moose, Bighorns, and Swans. A few changes are in the works, however! We have a short window of opportunity remaining on some of the subjects. Moose will soon be dropping their antlers. Weather reports call for snow and cold weather for the next few days—some forecasts suggest until Wednesday. This can make it difficult to walk through the sagebrush and river bottoms to look for the Moose. In past years, the moose often move well off the roads. Swans are migrating through Jackson Hole at this time. They seem to like our area, but once the ponds and rivers freeze solid for an extended period, they head South on their migration. Bighorn Sheep are just now beginning their rut. They moved to the Refuge much earlier this year. Their rut can last most of December, so I will be there quite a bit until it is over.  Fresh snow can make the photos there more dramatic—so I am looking forward to a new blanket of the white frosting.  Most of the wildlife photography next week or so will resemble the information I posted on the November Daily Updates: Archives 2013. Pontius Whitetailed Deer

Bison are moving onto the National Elk Refuge. Elk are having to slip by the hunters to get to the Refuge, and as a result, are quite difficult to photograph. Most years, the area’s Pronghorns migrate to areas south of Jackson Hole, but it appears a good sized herd is staying here again this year. They have been seen regularly north of the town of Kelly. Mule Deer should be moving to their winter feeding areas now, so maybe we can find a few of the big ones soon. I’ve seen White-tailed Deer along the Gros Ventre and along the Buffalo Fork River over the years. A friend spotted one near the Gros Ventre River over the weekend. Eagles have been seen in the area, mostly watching for gut piles from the Elk hunt. I saw a Golden Eagle in one of the big cottonwoods at the Miller House on Miller Butte a couple of days ago. Ducks and other waterfowl are seen along Flat Creek with regularity. Most Black Bears are reported to have already gone into hibernation. I hear reports of random Grizzly Bears, but I haven’t seen them. A few people saw River Otters at Oxbow Bend recently. A few Mountain Goats have been reported in the Snake River Canyon off and on for the past few weeks.

Landscape Photography: The weather reports are calling for cloudy skies for the upcoming extended period of time. Sometimes, the snow can make dramatic shots of wildlife, but landscape photography is tougher. The mountains are usually covered up with clouds and fog. I typically like at least a little light, or bands of light for a landscape, and I hope for a little blue or dark gray somewhere in the sky. Of course, this is all subjective and others get great shots in all kinds of conditions. Clouds certainly affect how I approach a morning trip. Additional Road Closures: Beginning December 1st, a few more of the secondary roads are closed. For example, the road is open on the National Elk Refuge for about 5 miles, but the road going North at the private property is now closed to everyone except a few hunters. This road normally services Curtis Canyon and Upper Flat Creek. Winter Closure Maps in PDF format:

I need your help!  I write this blog and post it on the Internet for all to see. It takes a lot of time, gas money, and energy daily. If you like what you are seeing, please sign up to follow this blog by entering your email address under the “ section of the upper right. You’ll receive an email notification of any new Feature Posts the day I add them. That’s number one. I also need people to help me promote the blog by mentioning it on Forums, Newsfeeds, Facebook, and Bulletin Boards if the information here can help people. Lastly, please spread the word about the site to your friends, relatives and co-workers that might have any interest in Jackson Hole and the Tetons. These three actions will make the site grow and keep me dedicated to adding to it daily. Oh yes, I have plenty of new content and feature posts lined up for the next few months! Please check in as often as you can!



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Comments (10)

  1. Lowell Schechter

    Hi Mike
    it looks like a couple of snowy days out there from what I have seen on the weather channel. I know it probably snows a lot out and sometimes it keeps you from getting out. Looking forward to more photo from you.

  2. Hi Lowell, It took a while to get photos online today because I shot 2000 and had to go through them. I don’t mind being out in the snow. Better snow than rain! MJ


    I met you in GTNP the last of September or First of October (during the shutdown). Was concentrating on Moose along Gros Ventre River, and the the GG Owl. For the first time, I checked your blog today. From now on I’ll be a regular visitor.

  4. Hi Ralph,
    Once they closed the park, I didn’t take photos along the GV. I’d hate to get a citation! That little owl along Spring Gulch was hit by a vehicle and killed a month later. Be sure to sign up for the blog by entering your email and you’ll get a notification when I make a new Feature Post. One of them is coming soon! And, please spread the word of the blog! Thanks, Mike Jackson

  5. Bertrand From France

    Your december pictures are really awesome ! I particularly like the goat kids ones and “rudolph” the moose with snowy nose.
    I check the blog every morning.

    Best regards form France

  6. Susan Hardman

    Great Blog. It’s a treasure that you clearly put a lot of work into. You’re capturing a moment in time that’s unlike any other in the valley and it’s worthy of being saved for future generations. I hope it pays for itself through sales. I’m sure it’s hard to justify all the time and effort unless you’re rich and retired.

  7. Lowell Schechter

    Mike, I just went through a number of your images and some I have seen and some I have not but I do not mind looking at them again. I love the nature and wildlife images you have taken this winter and also the old Mormon barns . And I also like when you have put in the info on the photos. I think about that when I am out and about trying to get wildlife photos and landscape images. I am sure it nice to have your children home for the holidays. Have a happy Christmas and New Year.

  8. I especially like the Bull Moose in the Kelly Warm Springs. It’s not an easy picture to take. Well done Mike! I have just got to get there some winter! Your winter photos are terrific.

  9. Lowell Schechter

    I wish I had seen a moose or two on our trip or maybe one of those Big horned rams last year in GNP or yellowstone. But maybe another time. And the other gentleman replied your winter pictures are outstanding.

  10. jackie ireland

    Love the moose in the warm springs and love the cedar wax wings! The dam in the Teton National Park had a lot of action today with the otters. Don’t know how often they show up there. It might be worth your time.

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