A Buck Pronghorn with Oddly Misshapened Horns

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Pronghorn buck with misshapen horn

Portrait of a Pronghorn buck with oddly misshapen horns – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2500, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 200mm, natural light, not baited

On September 24, 2010 I saw this Pronghorn buck for the first time. He was a good distance from me, up on a hill in bad light with grasses in front of him that covered most of his body. I took some images despite those conditions  because I wanted to take a closer look at his horns, I could tell even from a distance that there was something odd about their shape. Later at home I blew up the photographs I had taken and could see more clearly how this buck’s horns were deformed. At the time I hoped to be able to photograph him again.

This October 3rd I spotted this pronghorn for the third or fourth time in this past year only this time I had good light, the buck wasn’t far away and because it is rut season he was only paying attention to the does and other bucks in the area. I remember that last year I wondered if his bent and misshapen horns created any issues that would prevent him from successfully breeding.

Pronghorn buck with misshapen horn

Pronghorn buck with bent and misshapen horns – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2500, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 205mm, natural light, not baited

I don’t actually know if this Pronghorn has any problems mating; and I suspect that he does not,  but I do know that he was fully in rut, that he wasn’t having any problems at all chasing away the competing bucks and that he could have cared less that I was there photographing him.

When I first started taking images he was behind some of the wild sunflowers that seem to be especially abundant this year on the island and I could get a clear shot of him, I was at 400mmwith my 1.4x TC attached and he filled the frame quite nicely until he quickly started to move in my direction. Finally when he was in the clear I could not fit him in the frame at all, I had been zooming back while he made his approach until I couldn’t zoom back any further. I had my D200 with the 18-200mm VR lens in my backpack but there just wasn’t any time to pull it out and get my settings where they needed to be and there wasn’t even a spare 15 seconds to take the teleconverter off of the D300 with the 200-400mm VR attached so I just went for head shots of the handsome fellow.

The top image is 83% of the original image, top to bottom there was no room for cropping so I cropped some from the left side to try to balance the composition. The bottom image is 75% of the original and I cropped some to bring the bottom plus cropping from both sides for composition.  If the pronghorn had been any closer I would have missed the shots entirely!

When the buck was far enough away from me to get full body images it always seemed that the sunflowers were obscuring the Pronghorn so I guess I’ll need to keep looking for him to get some of the full body shots I desire.


Older images of this same Pronghorn buck



  1. Robert October 8, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Interesting. I’ll have to keep my eye out for him. Do pronghorn shed their horns each year and grow back a fresh set?

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