Archive for the ‘Adventures’ Category

Mastodon State Historic Site – park 4

November 23, 2016

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Mastodon State Historic Site – park 4

Mastodon State Historic Site–hmmm, what to paint here? Well, the most recognizable icon for the park would’ve been the mastodon skeleton in the museum but…. I wanted to paint “en plein air” and felt since I didn’t have prior permission, it might be a hassle to set up and paint inside the museum–if it would even be allowed. Maybe one of these days I’ll call ahead and see if painting inside would be allowed…if not, I may try to paint from some photos I snapped. It seems like a fun challenge.

So, the next best thing, I thought, would be the bone beds, the site of the archeological digs where the mastodon bones were found. After finding out that you can’t really “see” the bone beds or at least they’re not really marked to protect future finds, I chose to set up along the trail, in a spot where the light really struck me and where you could see some of the ancient rock of the site.

I set up, determined to try and capture what “wowed” me about the view while my mom and aunt went on a hike. As I was painting, I heard what sounded like a bald eagle call. I dismissed it and went about my painting. Wait, I hear it again and more frequently. Finally, I look up to see a pair of bald eagles circling above for a bit before moving on, one following the other. …..and I thought I was “wowed” by the light……

 

To find out more about the historic site, visit their website at:

https://mostateparks.com/park/mastodon-state-historic-site

 

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Sandy Creek Covered Bridge – park 3

November 3, 2016

20161029_185800-1Sandy Creek Covered Bridge – park 3

For our second park adventure weekend, mom and I chose to head southeast, talking my mom’s sister into tagging along with us. Our first stop took us to Sandy Creek Covered Bridge. A perfect morning for a stop at this historic, red historic covered bridge. One of only four remaining in the state and our second covered bridge site.

We had a perfect, idyllic fall morning to be there. We arrived with only one other car in the lot, who left shortly after. We walked the grounds a bit as I honed in on the view I wanted to paint. I settled on the view with the white fencing leading into the entrance, set up, and quickly went to work while my mom and aunt walked around and explored the grounds.

It seems that Sandy Creek Covered Bridge is not only eye candy for a painter but it is a sought after location for photogs taking family pictures. As I was finishing my painting, photog after photog showed up along with their families, causing some to wait in line for their turn to set up and take their pictures…..the park was getting busy, the peaceful fall morning was gone, time for us to move on to our next location.   Next up, Mastodon State Historic Site.

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/veronica-brown/sandy-creek-covered-bridge-en-plein-air/521361

 

https://mostateparks.com/park/sandy-creek-covered-bridge-state-historic-site

Trail of Tears State Park – Park 2

November 2, 2016

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Trail of Tears State Park

We ended our first park adventure, with a stop at the Trail of Tears State Park. A bittersweet place. The views from the overlooks were beautiful while the historic displays and accounts of hardship and death along the forced relocation march-particularly, the delayed crossing of the Mississippi River during winter, was a tragic reminder of one of the saddest times in American history.

While wanting to depict something specific to the park and what had happened in this area in 1838 and 1839, I settled on the view from the overlook. It was peaceful. The view was a perfect place for reflection while I painted.

To learn more about the park:

https://mostateparks.com/park/trail-tears-state-park

To see my “paint the parks” progress:

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/veronica-brown/trail-of-tears-overlook-en-plein-air/519833

 

Bollinger Mill and Covered Bridge – Park 1

October 31, 2016

Park Number 1-Bollinger Mill and Covered Bridge

So, back to mom and I’s challenge, we officially started our adventure by heading down to Burfordville and Jackson Missouri to visit Bollinger Mill and Covered Bridge and The Trail of Tears State Parks. We couldn’t have picked a better day for it. The colors are starting to show as fall slowly comes to southern Missouri and the temperatures were in the mid 70’s—my idea of perfect! We bollingermill-enpleinairstarted out with a tour of the mill and bridge, while I absorbed my surroundings and tried to decide what I wanted to depict. I finally decided I was going to paint from inside the covered bridge, looking outward, but, it appears there were several photogs taking advantage of the beautiful day and with similar ideas. So, not wanting to be in the way and to make sure I shared the park, I chose to paint the little falls by the mill with the mill and covered bridge in the painting as well—all of the elements that Bollinger Mill is known for. I set up my easel and went to work—on a time clock of sorts, as there were chairs, an arbor, and aisle set up for a wedding to happen that day. I wanted to be finished before they party arrived so I wasn’t in the way or caught in some photographs. All the while I painted, for some reason, I had Billy Idol’s song, “White Wedding” in my head. Funny how songs just pop into your head while you’re painting. I don’t think I sang any of the lyrics out loud but, can’t promise that I didn’t hum part of it while I was “in the zone”.

To find out more about Bollinger Mill:  https://mostateparks.com/park/bollinger-mill-state-historic-site

To view the full gallery of the state park paintings:  http://www.dailypaintworks.com/artists/veronica-brown-5531/artwork?category=State+Parks+Project#/category=State+Parks+Project&mode=search

A new challenge……painting the Missouri State Parks

October 27, 2016

passport-bookI’ve begun a new personal challenge……and I’m taking my mom along with me!

In light of 2016 being the centennial of the Missouri state parks, I’ve decided to try and visit as well as paint en plein air at each park. I hope to finish this challenge in 2 years, but we’ll see. It may take longer (there are 88 places to visit!), but in the end, the real goal is to learn more about the history of our great state and to see some beautiful country along the way. The other driving force behind this goal; my mom confessed to not really visiting many of the parks or really traveling Missouri much—OK, we need to change this! Challenge accepted!

I, myself have visited a lot of the state parks through the years and even painted at a few of them the past couple of years, as I’ve become more involved in painting en plein air. I only became aware of the “passport” book this past summer, after a friend was telling me about these little books that listed all 88 state parks and historic sites in Missouri and encouraged people to get their “passport” stamped at each park they visited. This got me thinking, how fun would it be to paint at each park while mom and I were earning our stamps! How cool would it be to finish the passport with 88 little paintings reminding us of our travels and adventures?!  Again, challenge accepted!

This isn’t a new concept but it is new to me—painting a large series and spreading it out over a year or two. I do not normally have the patience to do more than my annual painting a day for a month challenge. I admire people like artist Billyo O’Donnell, who set a personal challenge of this size and knock it out of the park. He visited and painted each county in Missouri a few years back. He did this over a span of years and the resulting work was amazing!  I really enjoyed reading his book, hearing the stories behind the locations, and seeing the subsequent paintings from his adventure! There is some beautiful and diverse country in Missouri and each place has something that makes it unique! You can check his adventure and more about the book here: http://www.paintingmissouri.com/book/

Now, I’m not claiming to be anywhere near Billyo’s artistic level, nor will the resulting travels end in a book or gallery tour, but, I think the result will be interesting in it’s own right and will carry with it a great sense of achievement and hopefully result in some wonderful memories!  I think it will be fun to see the personal growth through the paintings after they’re all lined up at the end of the adventure–hopefully my skills will be noticeably better!  I think it will also be fun to see what caught my eye on each particular day and what I chose to depict for that park visit.

To follow along on mom and I’s adventures…..stay tuned and I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I’m sure we will!

2015-A year in review

January 3, 2016
Plein air on Eagle Cliff Mountain

Painting on Eagle Cliff Mountain

 

 

Looking back on 2015, I have to say I was very blessed.  I took a few risks, was pleasantly surprised, and grew artistically in the process.

I participated in my first (and second) plein air events.  Both events were at the same location, Steelville MO.  I decided to ignore my fears, schedule some time away from my job and go for it.  It was a labor of love.  I was thoroughly exhausted and creatively spent at the end of the day.  These events are not easy despite how some artists make it look!  The first day I was so exhausted and frustrated with my performance that I was second guessing my decision. I told myself going in, I want to produce a painting to turn in each day/event and I want it to be something that I’m not totally disappointed in.  I wanted it to be something that I felt was a true representation of my work.  The first day, I struggled with finding a composition and drawing, getting true color down, and dodging rain showers.  In the last hour before time to check in, I painting a quick little painting.  It wasn’t my best work but I did feel it restored a bit of faith in myself.  I did go on to complete the event.  I turned in a painting a day, each day for 5 days plus a sunset paint and a nocturne.  I ended up painting over 15 paintings to display and sell at the final sale and gallery display!  I could see a change in my work each day and by the end of the event felt really good about my progress and accomplishment.  I sold several paintings and even won an honorable mention!  As a result of this event, I also met some amazing new artist friends; one of whom wrote an article that was published on the Plein Air Magazine’s online magazine where they used some of my location photos along with a photo of my painting in progress.  That was quite a feather in my cap!  Thank you again Marcia!

I went back to Steelville in the fall and participated in their fall paint out.  Again, I told myself I will paint in each event and turn something in for each one; the themes were earth, air, water, and fire.  Again, I painted multiple paintings each day….and when the event was over, I was ecstatic to have made a few sales and lo and behold, walk away with one of the days’ purchase awards!  You could’ve knocked me over with a feather!

Early on in the year, I signed up for an account on a daily painting site (although, I still do not paint daily, I am painting A LOT more).  It is safe to say that I’ve produced more paintings this year than several years combined in the past.  I signed up for this site as a place to display my “painting a day for a month” paintings.  Each February for the past few years, I do a “painting a day for a month” challenge to myself.  This year, I painted small, 5×7 inch value studies.  These were a way for me to focus on drawing and values.  This is a wonderful and very beneficial exercise for me.  Again, I saw a real improvement in my work and as an added bonus, I’ve made many sales and met new, wonderful, collectors/friends through these sales.  I’ve shipped art to several new states that I hadn’t sold in before and am up to 18 states on my “sellers list”!  Woo Hoo–I’m going for all 50….it’s on my bucket list! LOL

I participated in a few juried shows with our local art club, one being the annual landscape show.  I am honored to have taken second place in this show.  Quite an accomplishment after seeing the caliber of work in the show and knowing the artist who received first–I have long admired his work and really look up to him and value his critiques and advice.

I started painting en plein air (or on location) at least once per week unless I was away from home or until daylight savings time ended and I was getting off of work at my “day job” in the dark.  I’ve sold many of these paintings via the Daily Paintworks site, so, not only is it great practice but I’ve been able to continue paying for my supplies and gas to locations.  Yay, win/win!  Plein air painting has taken me to some amazing painting locations this year.  I’ve painted inside a cave, in the flint hills of Kansas, standing in a river, and even painted on the side of a mountain!  Not sure how I will top those in 2016!

I took a leap and applied to my first artist-in-residence program.  The jury is still out on whether I made the cut or not…..hopefully I will have great news to report in April of 2016!

I also put myself out there and applied to a couple of national shows/events.  I was not accepted but, it is still an accomplishment to go through the application process and put my work out there with the “big dogs” and be judged alongside them.  Who knows, with continued growth and persistence, maybe one day it will pay off.

There you have it, some of my artistic highlights for 2015….here’s to seeing what 2016 holds.  Stay tuned……

For the love of the “fight”

June 4, 2015

“Rain, falling snow, wind…all of these things to contend with only make the open air painter love the fight”  ~Walter Elmer Schofield

 

 

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We are in, what I would consider some of the most prime plein air weather here.  Temperatures have been mild and absolutely beautiful.  We have some beautiful color created by flowers and trees blooming and then the grass and leaves have gone from drab to green almost overnight.  Birds and peep frogs serenade you as you paint and the wildlife can sometimes appear out of nowhere to keep you company.  Yes, you can paint outside any time of the year or day—just that you quickly learn there are certain times of the season and even certain times of the day that are more pleasant and appealing.

I’ve read blog posts and articles about several of the die-hard plein air painters and the more adventuresome painters.  There are those painters that have trekked up mountains and roughed it, just to catch a backcountry scene in the morning light.  Those painters that have toughed it out in extreme temperatures on both ends of the thermometer, braved the snow, sleet, rain, and wind, not only for the painting being produced but for the thrill and adventure of it.  I love reading these stories—some of these artists are not only talented painters but entertaining writers as well.  If you’d like to read some of these posts and see the art created from these adventures, I suggest you check out the work of Josh Been http://www.joshuabeen.com/ , R. Gregory Summers http://rgregorysummers.com/ , or Shawn Cornell http://mshawncornellstudio.com/  and hey, for kicks and grins, check out my adventure page…it’s not all about painting but my wanderings too https://veronicabrownart.wordpress.com/category/adventures/

As I read about some of these artist adventures, I wondered what would drive someone to paint in the less than ideal conditions.  Painting en plein air can be challenging enough.  I’m somewhat of an adventuresome type but wasn’t sure if I loved the “fight” as Mr. Schofield mentioned, enough to actually try to paint during the wind, snow, rain, or sleet.  Then I tried it.  The first time, I painted in the wind and my clunky French easel blew over and cracked “…..awesome…..just awesome”, I thought.  That easel and I had a love/hate relationship.  It used to randomly collapse one or more of it’s legs on me while painting….but that’s a different “fight”.  I tell you this, I didn’t give up.  I started taking a few workshops in an attempt to improve my plein air skill.  These workshops are scheduled and they happen, rain or shine.  Well, at another workshop, I ended up painting in a rainy mist….ok, not so bad….it was light and I don’t melt.  My hair likes to curl and frizz, but hey, just avoid any mirrors or the public en mass and it’s all good.  Then I braved the winds of the Kansas Flint hills….again, not so bad because I weighted my easel down.  Oh, and did I mention, I finally saved up and sprung for an Easy L easel and tripod.  World of difference!!!  I could adjust the tripod legs to lower the center of gravity and then hang things from the middle of the tripod to weight it down.  OK, I conquered the wind.  Next, I set up and painted during one of our snows this past winter.  I wanted to study the color and values of snow.  I got snow alright.  Half way through my first painting, I started getting snowed on….”eh, no big deal, it was actually pretty and peaceful”.  Next up, it changed to sleet, “great….who ordered this???”  It ended in a very cold, wet, rain……..OK, I’m done with this painting….and packed it up.  I have painted in a mild weather rain as well and produced a couple of my favorite plein air paintings.  I’ve learned that the key is get paint on the canvas and learn to deal with slick, oily paint.  Next up…..hiking more than a couple of miles to paint…..  I hope to conquer that this fall!

OK, I get it, I see what some of the “fight” is all about.  It’s another challenge to add to the mix.  It separates some painters from others.  It is a learning and growing experience that can have the potential for rewards (and some fails), both in the finished painting and in the satisfaction of winning a “fight”.  I get it and I’m in!  Let’s do this!

There’s something living in the car!!

May 3, 2012

There’s something living in the car!

As mentioned in my previous post, we decided to take a road trip to Montana.  We rented a vehicle because we knew we’d be driving a lot of miles and we wanted something that would get better gas mileage than our truck and have more room.  Our ultimate destination was a guard station cabin in Montana, and that required that we pack extra things such as bedding, towels, food, solar shower, lights, chairs, etc.  Needless to say, the Ford Explorer that we ended up getting was packed to the hilt!  When we picked the “family truckster” up (if you’ve ever seen National Lampoon’s Vacation—you’ll know why we called it that.), it only had a few hundred miles on it.  We returned it with an additional 5300+ miles on it…..thank goodness we had unlimited mileage with our rental!  The comment made at Avvis by the attendant when we returned it, was; “Wow—you drove….A LOT….it’s due for an oil change already!”

Because we had driven so much, my mechanically inclined hub kept a close eye on the regular maintenance of the vehicle.  He checked the tires, fluids, and general mechanics of the family truckster each morning before we took out.  He’s quite handy like that!  One particular morning, he was in for a surprise when he popped the hood.  He saw something quickly scamper out of sight and, upon further inspection, he started noticing grass around the motor….as if something was trying to nest in the engine.  Surprised and somewhat baffled at what could be trying to make a nest in the vehicle, he looked under the vehicle and all over the engine, trying to catch another glimpse of said critter so he could possibly figure out what it was.  Finally, the critter popped his head up just long enough to see that it had small ears, was brown, and had a long tail.  He thought it looked similar to the Pica we had seen in the Rockies, only bigger and with a long tail.  He came in and got me, told me to bring the camera and said there was something I had to come see this.  I really didn’t know what he was planning to show me but, he seemed pretty excited about it so, I followed.

As we reached the vehicle with the hood up, the hub explained to me that something was trying to nest in the vehicle and it appeared to still be there.  Uh, yeah, OK…..I think you’re seeing things.  We had just checked the vehicle over the day before and there was no sign of anything.  The night was a bit chilly, and I’m sure the motor was warm the night before when we’d returned to the cabin but, we really hadn’t seen any smaller critters around and we typically spent most of the evening outdoors around the cabin/vehicle.  This thing would have to work fast.  When I asked what it was, he told me it looked like a cross between a rabbit, rat, mouse, pica thing…….uh, OK…..in other words he had no idea, he’d never seen one before.  Imagine, the hub, both of our kids, and me with my camera up, gathered around the family truckster, anticipating the “it” to pop up at any minute.  Well, as soon as it did—there was chaos….screaming, jumping, everyone scrambling and then laughter because we were all startled.  This went on for a bit, while we were all trying to get a glimpse of “it” and better yet, a picture so we could figure out what it was.  Finally, I think it was as scared of us as we were of it, so, it jumped to the ground and then the chase was on!  We all took out after it, chasing it out away from the vehicle.  The hub’s biggest fear was that it would chew through some wires, plug something up, or get stuck in there and cause major damage.  We the “it” on over the hill, and the excitement apparently over, the hub went to work cleaning out the grasses and leaves from the motor, checking things over thoroughly before we loaded up and headed out for the day.

What a crazy start to the day!  Once I had access to WiFi, I did some research and it seems that the consensus was that “it” was a bushy tailed wood rat……yep, it was some sort of a rat….ewwwww…… Always an adventure with the Brown fam on vaca!

Cattle turning into bears!! What???

April 20, 2012

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Cattle turning into bears….Oh My!

Back in 2008, I enrolled in an art workshop in Montana.  We decided to turn it into a family vacation as well.  Road trip!!  We decided to allow a few days to drive to Montana so we could see the sites along.  We rented a vehicle since we knew we were going to be traveling a fair amount of miles (over 5300 in two weeks to be exact!)  We packed up the kids (who were both teenagers at the time), packed up the car and away we went.  We felt like the Griswolds on family vacation!  This little trip proved to be a string of adventures for the Brown family!

Our ultimate destination was to be a guard station cabin in the Tally Lakes/Star Meadows area of Montana.  We found the cabin located off of a rural road, miles from town.  It was such a peaceful scene, surrounded by some level, bottom, ground sprinkled with pine trees and scrub brush with a creek/river running through it.  There were mountains on the backside of the creek and mountains to the front of the cabin……mountains everywhere—perfect!   A rail fence enclosed the “yard” with pine trees towering above the parking area and hiding view of the road from the cab

in.  Upon exploring a bit more, we learned that the field was the temporary home to a herd of cattle.

There was electricity to the cabin but no running water or indoor plumbing.  There was however, a new water hand-pump located outside for potable water and a new vaulted toilet with a concrete floor and a “stall” where a solar shower could be hung.  I’m not sure my children realized what a vaulted toilet was until we got there and they realized they were going to have to go outside and walk about 30 yards to use the facilities.  We kept a flashlight in the stall as well as one in the cabin for just such occasions, however, my daughter resolved that she would not be going out there unless it was daylight!  She proceeded to tell us that knew there was a possibility of seeing bears—she saw the sign and brochure about bear safety in the cabin.  Even during daylight, when she had to walk out there by herself, she hustled!  I tried to reassure her that the cattle in the backyard would more than likely alert her if anything was around.  She still didn’t find that too comforting.  Maybe it was partially because they all kept joking that “bear safety” meant that they just had to outrun the slowest person in the family and then they all laughed and looked at me.  And thanks to all of the teasing I received, I told her I would not be escorting her to the “facilities”.  Chels did luck out however, we were far enough north that the days seemed to be pretty long and there was an abundance of daylight.

It seemed like it was never completely dark until about 11PM and then daylight seemed to hit around 6AM.  Between the light and the very loud serenade sung by the coyote choir every night, and the chill in the cabin, it took a few nights to actually get some quality sleep.  Not that I was complaining—it was beautiful there….just that with the combination of me giving up caffeine before we left and the lack of sleep, I had regular headaches for days.  We did eventually figure out that one of the windows had been left open in the cabin…..causing the chill and our blankets to never be enough!  That seemed to cut down on the volume of the nightly coyote choir as well.  The lack of sleep did finally catch up with me and with the new found warmth and quiet, I slept in one morning.  The hub didn’t—he awoke early to see some cowboys driving the cattle out of our “backyard” and down the road to their next home.  I was a little upset that he didn’t wake me to watch but understood why he didn’t.

Since the cattle were now gone, we decided that evening that we would explore more of the backyard.  We found the remains of a couple of whitetail fawns that had apparently been dinner for some of the “choir” a few nights ago.  We also discovered that what we called a “creek” was rather deep and very cold and that it was a little further from the cabin that we’d thought.  We walked a bit further and found a whitetail doe, dead, in the creek.  We’re not exactly sure what her cause of death was but it was definitely evident that there was predator activity around.  Given that fact, the whole time we explored, I tried to keep an eye out for said predators—I love to explore the wilderness but I’m a bit paranoid about something that could potentially make a meal outta me, catching me by surprise and gnawing a limb off before I knew what hit me.  I know, call me crazy, but my imagination runs wild sometimes and I knew we were in bear and mountain lion country….something we really do not have to worry about back home.  My hub seemed to find my paranoia entertaining and took every chance he got to slip out of my sight and make noises, break sticks and watch me jump.  Not funny, not funny at all!

The next morning, Chels woke up and had to use the facilities but it wasn’t light enough yet, so, she danced around the cabin until there was enough light.  As soon as she felt it was light enough to make a clean break for the toilet, she darted out of the cabin, running fast enough to reach the toilet before anything could possible get her.  As she was coming out she noticed something black, furry, and rather large moving through some of the brush off to the backside of the toilet.  She watched for a bit and then decided to make a run for it.  She came barreling in the cabin, eyes wide, breathing hard, and obviously scared.  We started questioning her and she proceeded to tell us she’d just seen a bear.  With that news, the hub and I walked outside armed with the binoculars to check it out.  After a bit of investigation, we did find Chels’ bear……..it happened to be a black angus cow and calf that had apparently missed the earlier roundup and were left behind.  There were coming up to the cabin in an effort to find the rest of the herd.  The owners did come back later and gather the stragglers….turned out there were a few more than just that pair.  In Chels’ defense, it was fogging in the bottom that morning, foggy enough to turn cattle into bears!

 

“Did you hear that??”

April 13, 2012
mule deer

The culprits....

I’ve decided to start a “trip journal” of sorts.  I’ve not been painting lately since I’ve been working with my horses of an evening.  With work, horses, and housework….not much time for painting.  I have been doing a bit of sketching lately….maybe I’ll share some of those eventually but, for now, I decided to share some of our “adventures”.  I’ve been working on a scrapbook (between doing everything above….and no, I don’t sleep much…LOL.) from our last vacation and I’ve been jotting down stories for that.  I thought maybe everyone else would get a chuckle or at the least a smile out of some of them.  Being creative is sometimes about the journey not necessarily the finished piece that results.  Enjoy 🙂

Did you hear that???

“Seriously, I think I hear something outside….and it’s chewing!”

That’s what I woke up to one early morning while it was still dark outside.  The moon was up so I could see shadows of something on the walls of the tent and I could hear something moving outside the tent and heard chewing noises.  Chewing noises!!??!!  I looked over at the hub and he was still asleep.  I laid there, just waiting for something to hit the tent, rip it open, pull us out of our sleeping bag, maul us…..my imagination went wild!  I just knew there was a bear in camp!  I waited and listened with my “super” hearing for quite some time and nothing happened.  I couldn’t stand it anymore and finally pulled my head inside of my sleeping bag and tried to doze off again.  I mean, if you can’t see it, it can’t see you, right??  I awoke just as it was getting light enough to see outside and then peaked out the tent window but didn’t see anything.  RJ finally woke up and I started asking him about it.  He said he heard it too but he was tired and figured if it was going to get us…..it would’ve done it already so, he just rolled over and went back to sleep!  Thanks for making me feel safe, dear hub!!  We both decided to get up, get our boots on and investigate……we saw tracks through camp but didn’t see any critters………until we looked over the little hill that separated us from another campsite…..and there they were……….four mule deer bucks!  Ok, I can rest a little bit easier now……until the herd of elk moves through camp the next night……….