Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

No fences, no walkways, no tourguides.  This is what crossed my mind as I walked toward a herd of Bison in the distance.  I found myself in a middle of a field and accidentally at one of the most beautiful wildlife refuges I have ever been to.  It is called the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge,  and it’s almost 100 square miles is located in the southwest corner of Oklahoma.

I said I was accidentally there, and this is because I was supposed to be driving around Oklahoma chasing tornadoes, but decided to wait it out at a state park.  This was the closest place, and what a great surprise.  As soon as we started driving through, herds of Bison could be seen grazing in nearby fields, and at one point a herd crossed the road in front of me!  (click pictures to enlarge)
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As it turns out, Bison are generally aggressive, and make up for five times as many injuries than bears at Yellowstone park.  I have photographed many creatures though, and I decided to calmly approach one of the Bison, as he seemed calm and undisturbed by my presence.  I eventually got within about 7 ft, and the calm animal decided to lay down in front of me and enjoy his hair blowing in the wind.
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A small bird even decided to come hangout.
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This place was gorgeous.  And I could have photographed there for days.

However, I was supposed to be waiting to chase some storms and so I tried to not be too distracted.  We kept driving through the park and met the biggest distraction of all.  Off in the distance and in nearby fields, prairie dogs could be seen running around.  Definitely had to pull over.

These were so fun to photograph, and the make a really adorable ‘cheeping’ sound whenever I would get close.  At about 6 ft away, the would disappear into their hole… but I found they would return and hang out if I waited long enough.

_MG_9155_MG_9086_MG_9195I spent too long enjoying these small creatures and the sun was starting to set so I decided to get one last picture that profiled some of the mountains.
_MG_9300And finally, after the sun set, storms began to show up.  I figured I drove about 350 miles to see a storm, so I shot west of the refuge and caught a small lightning show from a small storm.  Better than nothing though.  And at least I had an awesome shoot in the reserve, it saved the day, and I will definitely have to return.
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