Wichita Mountains Part 2 – Longhorn

My first day (afternoon really) at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge started off with Texas Longhorns, something that you expect here in Texas, but not so much up north in Oklahoma.  According to the WMWR website:

The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge’s objective for the Texas Longhorn Cattle is one of protecting and preserving a significant cultural and historical resource

I had a tip about pelicans migrating through the area at Lake Jed Johnson so I headed out there.  Immediately upon entering the trail that would lead me to the back side of the lake, I noticed a few longhorns trotting past me, off the trail in the woods.  Then I saw this young one coming up the trail towards me.  Looked harmless enough so I stopped to take a photograph.

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

I figured it wasn’t going to hurt anyone with those horns.  It looked at me and left the trail to follow the others through the woods.  Continuing down the trail to the lake, I noticed several other longhorn hanging out in the area and I began to wonder just how aggressive these creatures are to people in their habitat.  Surely the rangers would have warned me if they were dangerous.

Sure enough, as I get to the water, a couple more longhorn are there, enjoying the water.

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

I walk past, taking a wide arc around them and get my shots of the pelicans (which you will see in another post later).

I saw longhorn mostly all over the eastern part of the refuge.  I don’t know if it was just the time of year I was there, or if the animals have marked off their territory and stay somewhat segregated.  I did notice longhorn and bison integrated in several locations though.

In another area just west of this lake, I was able to get a few family portraits of the longhorns.  I’m assuming mother and child in the same field where the prairie dogs live.

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

After getting shots of the pelicans, I began making my way back to my CR-V in the parking lot.  However, I found my path blocked a couple of times by what appeared to be a couple of angry-looking bull longhorns.  I would adjust my path accordingly and made it safely around them but when I got within eye-shot of my vehicle, the path was blocked by this one especially unfriendly looking bull who had his head down and was pawing at the ground.  Now, I’ve seen enough Bugs Bunny cartoons to know what comes next, so again, I adjust my course, leave the trail, and make a very wide circle to get around this guy.  By the time I get back to my vehicle, this guy is about 20 yards away, so I make my way to the driver’s side of the vehicle to make sure that I have something metal between us.  It was then I noticed another bull approaching.  Keeping the vehicle between us, I open the driver’s door and stand in the frame, shooting over the vehicle with the 100-400mm lens and capture the action as these two bulls go head-to-head right there in front of me.

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
The Initial Strike!


Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
Locking Horns

After watching these two fight it out for a couple of minutes, it was all over.  My adrenaline was pumping from being so close to such a powerful encounter, and I was thankful for the vehicle that stood between us.  In any case, it was an exciting first day, but there were several more to follow!

More soon!

Photos taken with the Canon 5Dm2 – Canon 100-400mmL-IS lens and the Canon 7D – Canon 600mL-IS F/4 lens combinations.