Nature photography, political rants, and Martyman laughs from the ten-time award-winning author Marty Essen

Cliff swallow nests

Cliff swallow nests

Marty’s photo of the day #3762: These are cliff swallow nests, found while hiking along the Missouri River. (Photographed in the American Prairie Reserve, Montana)

Wolf spider on the prairie

Wolf spider on the prairie

Marty’s photo of the day #3761: Whenever I’m out photographing nature, sooner or later I will end up on my hands and knees capturing an image of something small. In this instance, Deb, Nellie, and I were hiking the American Prairie Reserve, in a dry area that overlooked the Judith River. The ground beneath my […]

Elk on the prairie

Elk on the prairie

Marty’s photo of the day #3760: Stalking elk on the open prairie isn’t easy—especially when accompanied by a very active, medium-sized dog. The elk were at the beginning of their rut, when Deb, Nellie, and I visited the American Prairie Reserve earlier this month. A few times we even heard them bugling. These two bulls […]

Sunsets (Set 3 of 3)

Sunsets (Set 3 of 3)

Marty’s photos of the day #3756-3759: Never in my life have I enjoyed sunsets more than I did when Deb and I explored the American Prairie Reserve earlier this month. Montana’s “big sky” made the sunsets linger, and there was just enough haze—either blowing up from the prairie or from distant forest fires—to make the […]

Sunsets (Set 2 of 3)

Sunsets (Set 2 of 3)

Marty’s photos of the day #3752-3755: Never in my life have I enjoyed sunsets more than I did when Deb and I explored the American Prairie Reserve earlier this month. Montana’s “big sky” made the sunsets linger, and there was just enough haze—either blowing up from the prairie or from distant forest fires—to make the […]

Sunsets (Set 1 of 3)

Sunsets (Set 1 of 3)

Marty’s photos of the day #3748-3751: Never in my life have I enjoyed sunsets more than I did when Deb and I explored the American Prairie Reserve earlier this month. Montana’s “big sky” made the sunsets linger, and there was just enough haze—either blowing up from the prairie or from distant forest fires—to make the […]

Coyote Camp

Coyote Camp

Marty’s photos of the day #3744-3747: My favorite of the three places Deb, Nellie, and I stayed at in the American Prairie Reserve was a yurt on the western side. The yurt didn’t have running water, but it still felt luxurious compared to our previous two stays. Our yurt had three sections: one section had […]

Abandoned ranch

Abandoned ranch

Marty’s photos of the day #3737-3743: This is an abandoned ranch we discovered while exploring the American Prairie Reserve, near the Missouri River. Deb thinks it might have been an old government outpost, but I think it was more likely just a private ranch. It had multiple outbuildings and a corral. At first, it didn’t […]

Wind Camp

Wind Camp

Marty’s photos of the day #3730-3736: Deb, Nellie, and I stayed in three places while visiting Montana’s American Prairie Reserve. Our middle stay—two nights in a cabin at Antelope Creek Campground—was our least favorite. There the days were so windy that we renamed the location “Wind Camp.” Even so, we still enjoyed our visit. Photo […]

One-room schoolhouses

One-room schoolhouses

Marty’s photos of the day #3725-3729: While visiting Montana’s American Prairie Reserve earlier this month, my wife, Deb, and I found two inactive one-room schoolhouses. One was restored, with an unlocked door that allowed us inside, and the other we could only view from the outside. Deb grew up on a farm, on the outskirts […]

Oh, a bunny!

Oh, a bunny!

Marty’s photo of the day #3724: One of the many cool things about exploring Montana’s American Prairie Reserve was all the old, abandoned homesteads and one-room school houses scattered about. Later I will feature photos of some of those historic buildings, but today I’m sharing what was inside one of them. As I approached a […]

Sunset on the American Prairie Reserve

Sunset on the American Prairie Reserve

Marty’s photo of the day #3723: Sunsets were one of the big highlights of visiting the American Prairie Reserve earlier this month. Seemingly every sunset was better than the one before it, and there was just enough haze—either blowing up from the prairie or from distant forest fires to make the colors spectacular. Today’s photo […]

The fastest animal in the Western Hemisphere (disputed)

The fastest animal in the Western Hemisphere (disputed)

Marty’s photo of the day #3722: I expected to see pronghorn everywhere in the American Prairie Reserve, but instead they were a rare sighting. I attribute that more to bad luck than to the lack of animals. Pronghorn can run a little over 50 mph, making them the fastest land animal in the Western Hemisphere. […]

Relaxing on the Missouri River

Relaxing on the Missouri River

Marty’s photo of the day #3721: During our American Prairie Reserve visit earlier this month, Deb and I walked many miles, and our dog, Nellie, more than quadrupled whatever ground we covered. Despite all that exploring, one of our most enjoyable days occurred when we found a grassy section along a high, sheer bank of […]

Racer in the American Prairie Reserve

Racer in the American Prairie Reserve

Marty’s photo of the day #3720: Isn’t she a beauty! This is either a North American racer, or a close subspecies, called a western yellow-bellied racer. If I had to choose, I would say the latter. I spotted the snake while driving between our camps in the American Prairie Reserve. After the snake posed nicely […]

Prairie vs. ranchland

Prairie vs. ranchland

Marty’s photo of the day #3719: This is our tent site, from earlier this month, at Buffalo Camp on the American Prairie Reserve. It’s not an exciting photo, but I wanted to point out how green the landscape was. As we drove south out of Malta, Montana, we followed fifty miles of gravel roads until […]

The Bison Roll

The Bison Roll

Marty’s photos of the day #3718: I shot this series of bison photos during our first day in Montana’s American Prairie Reserve. Our tent, at Buffalo Camp, was a two minute walk away. I thought about attaching speech bubbles to the photos, but ultimately decided they would detract too much from the scene. Instead I […]

Swallows on the American Prairie Reserve

Swallows on the American Prairie Reserve

Marty’s photo of the day #3717: As a wildlife photographer, I’m naturally drawn to animals of the more exotic variety. But sometimes common animals, like this barn swallow and chick, are just waiting to show that they can be interesting subjects too. While visiting Montana’s American Prairie Reserve earlier this month, Deb, Nellie, and I […]

A shocking prairie dog photoshoot

A shocking prairie dog photoshoot

Marty’s photo of the day #3716: As mentioned yesterday, Deb, Nellie, and I enjoyed an amazing six days in Montana’s American Prairie Reserve. I might even write a magazine article about our experiences or work them into a future book. Our initial adventure occurred as we entered the reserve, and it caused a freaky injury […]

The American Prairie Reserve! (Post #1)

The American Prairie Reserve! (Post #1)

Marty’s photos of the day #3715: Last night, my wife Deb, our dog Nellie, and I returned from six fabulous days in the American Prairie Reserve. Few people know about this wonderful, remote Montana treasure—and admittedly I’m quite tempted to stay quiet about it. Located along the Missouri River, in north-central Montana, it is one […]

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