A couple weeks ago, I had the chance to visit one of our sourcing partners' ranch, located along the Rocky Mountain Front in Montana. The ecosystem on the Diamond 4D Ranch is still very much intact. Complete with the big predators such as, mountain lions, wolves and bears.
I had received an email from the D4D ranch manager, Chris that a buffalo cow had died giving birth and that in a couple of days a Grizzly Bear might be on it. I really wanted to see this and hopefully capture an image or two, to share with you. The next day I headed north. The drive is long, about 11 hours, but I always enjoy a good road trip and I'm especially fond of the beauty of the high plains.
It was late afternoon by the time I arrived. Chris and his son Percy were there to greet me. After a short visit, we headed to a perch overlooking the creek bottom. Chris had moved the carcass to this location for two reasons; 1) to get it away from the herd and 2) to move to an area where the bears often frequent.
Grizzly Bears are omnivores, with only 20% to 30% of their diet being meat. And although they would rather lay under a chokecherry bush and gorge themselves, they also like dead things.
The carcass was gone, but you could see the trail of dried blood where the 900 pound carcass had been drug into the tree covered creek bottom. The wait began. After a couple of hours, there was finally movement in the trees and out came a Grizzly Bear!
It was a young bear, but I was still over the moon! I was snapping photos as fast as I could, when I spotted another big bear through the corner of my lens.
She came lumbering out, greeted her cub and allowed her to nurse...
before she sniffed the air and looked right in my direction.
The light was starting to fall before the satiated Grizzly Bears lazily slipped back into the creek bed and we slipped away from our perch.
Pretty good first day!
The next morning, I set out to poke around the ranch and see if I could capture another bear opportunity or other wildlife sightings. It was raining (much needed) and the wildlife were hunkered down.
I set off looking for the buffalo herd and found them in a grassy meadow. I enjoyed not being in a rush, and watched the playful young calves frolic in the rain.
The Diamond 4D manages its ranch and bison like we do; holistic/regenerative management, large landscape grazing, 100% grass-fed, minimal handling, no antibiotics or hormones, no GMO feeds. Our mobile harvest crew go there once a year to harvest their animals to support the Wild Idea Buffalo meat supply. Our humane field harvest is what brought them on board as a sourcing partner, as they too believe in no stress to animals when taking an animal for food.
That evening, we headed out for a drive across the ranch. Although dry, it is still stunningly beautiful and full of wildlife. The evening presented a cow moose, running across a meadow (too fast to photograph), a renegade group of buffalo and a herd of elk with their calves! Thrilling to see and hear!
It was such a pleasure to visit the Diamond 4D ranch and to see the conservation work they are doing and the respect they have for all creatures that are a part of the ecosystem. It gives us all a little bit of hope… Thank you Diamond 4D, for your stewardship and your partnership.