We passed through a portion of south central Montana on our drive back to Minnesota, and stopped to drive around a beautiful ranch southwest of Bozeman. Off the beaten track, it turned out to be a great place to see wildlife.
Looking up the canyon divide where the ranch property begins at Gallatin Gateway, Montana.
Turner Enterprises owns the 100,000 acre Flying D ranch, a haven for wildlife and for bison production.
The ranch runs between the Gallatin and Madison Rivers. I imagine there is some good fishing there. Not a bad place to live either.
A couple of Sandhill Cranes called to us as we drove by. The wildflowers were in bloom in the prairie areas.
A Yellow-bellied Marmot (relative of the woodchuck) called to us from atop his rock next to the road.
I’m not sure which grouse species this is, but this little hen really didn’t want to get off the road in front of our car.
From a high viewpoint on the ranch, we could just make out a scattered buffalo herd in the distance. Was this what it looked like 150 or more years ago, when Native Americans scouted for buffalo?
Turner Enterprises conducts annual bison round-ups to select animals to harvest for the market. There are probably 5000 animals scattered through the ranch.
Elsewhere on Montana byways, along another ranch road, we watched a Red-tailed Hawk buzz a Bald Eagle sitting on a fence post.
The hawk (far upper right corner) made a couple of dives at the Eagle, but then circled overhead and left it alone.
This bird might have been sickly, because it’s feathers look shabby and it never moved while we drove right up next to it. Lead poisoning is not uncommon in raptors here, if birds scavenge deer or elk carcasses with lead shot fragments embedded in the flesh.