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Animals in Our Montana Town

I simply never know what animals I’ll see when we go about our daily life in our little town. Sometimes the animals are wild and sometimes they aren’t but the animals are usually around in and just outside of our little Montana town.

These pictures show an example. On October 9, my wife had a physical therapy session and I was waiting for her in the car. The physical therapy office is located barely ¼ mile south of town, which isn’t much considering that our town is only about a mile and a half long, from one end of town to the other.

I’m usually looking for animals when I’m waiting in the car, so I was able to take the pictures with my phone when I saw the animals. As can be seen, this area isn’t built up so there is plenty of open space for the animals.

Mule deer

This view is north, back toward town. In fact, it is pointing almost directly toward our house, which is on the other side of the hill. I saw the movement immediately and was able to tell what the animals are just as quickly. I've inserted arrows to point to them, but they are mule deer. I've only pointed out three, but there are actually four in the picture. There are another four just out of the picture, on the other side of a very low ridge just above these deer.

The picture isn't high-resolution, so it is difficult to make them out. I was able to see them moving as they grazed, but you don't have that advantage when you are looking at a still shot. The distance to the deer is about 150 yards.

This is a good area for deer. On the other side of the hill, there are plenty of trees for shelter, though this picture looks rather barren and mostly grass, some sagebrush, and scrub trees, mostly small pines and junipers. The deer have grass to munch on all year, unless we get a heavy snowfall, and they aren't far from water. 

Slightly different angle

This is the same view as the last picture, from a slightly different angle and without the arrows to point out the deer. Many people who drive by don't even see the deer, partly because they aren't looking for them and partly because the deer have their winter coloration of grayish-brown. They blend in well.

The coloration helps the deer survive, especially since it isn't unusual for a cougar or bear to be prowling in this area. Other animals also live in this place that aren't often noticed; snowshoe hares, marmots, and rattlesnakes, for instance. In fact, there are warning signs not far from the physical therapy office that caution people to watch for rattlesnakes.

Unexpected animals to the south

When I looked south, the opposite direction from the other two pictures, I saw the animals the arrows point to. At first, I couldn't figure out what they were. They definitely weren't deer. Like in most of Montana, a lot of cattle are grazed here, but these animals weren't as bulky as cattle. They are larger than deer but not as big as a steer. They looked rather like weird sheep, though they weren't built as close to the ground as sheep are. They stood at least as high as a deer.

They were also various colors; black, brown, and white. One of them was even white in front and back, with a brown patch in the middle.

Finally, one of them looked up as it moved to another place to graze and I saw the very long neck. Finally, I knew what I was looking at; llamas! These are domestic stock and I'm not sure if they are being raised for the wool, meat, or milk, but I suspect that it is a combination of all three.

Again, another angle

This is a different angle of the last picture and there are several llamas in this picture. Although they are larger than deer, they are harder to see, partly because they are at a distance of about 200-300 yards.

This picture also shows that there is still quite a bit of snow in the high country, in the mountains to the south. In the foreground are treetops of trees that are growing along a small stream that flows behind the physical therapy office. That is where the rattlesnake warning signs are posted. The snakes tend to congregate there where they can get to the water.

Some people are somewhat surprised to learn that rattlesnakes do drink water and will swim in it, though they aren't especially good at swimming. So the signs are needed, even though all the country shown in all of these pictures is rattlesnake country. Just as a point of interest, the rattlesnakes right in here are mostly timber rattlers.

Anyway, once my wife was done, we headed back home to other animals.

GW snoozing

This is one of the animals at home that I just mentioned. This is GW, short for Gray and White. We didn't give him a 'regular' cat name since we'd never intended on keeping him. He had other ideas and he is one of several cats that decided that I would be his pet human. By the time I realized that it was too late to change his name. He answers to GW or just plain "Gee".

What do you think?

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Written by Rex Trulove

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