Herping the Big Sky.

Dedicated exclusively to field herping.

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Dell Despain
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Herping the Big Sky.

Post by Dell Despain » May 27th, 2013, 1:42 pm

Went herping w/ Cole, Trey, and my daughter Emma. Cole and I will be making this post together, with me posting in white and Cole posting in blue. We're short on time, or we would have asked Scott for another screen name to post jointly under. Our goal with this posting scheme is to keep down the redundancy. Hopefully everyone enjoys! Credit should go to Crazins aka Marisa for coming up with the multiple speakers in one post. Brilliant!

I'll jump back in here with a few habitat shots to provide a sense of place. Things are starting to green up around here, following an unbelievably dry winter and spring.
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Here's Dell and Trey doing what we do. Those are the highest mountains in the state of Montana in the background.
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We had a very busy day of hunting, and the time flew by as a result. Here's what we found. The day was warm, but not hot. It was also partly overcast. I think we were all surprised at the number of Coluber, Pituophis, and Crotalus seen "out on the crawl" that day.

First snake of the day was a Yellow bellied racer, Coluber constrictor. I failed to photograph even one of the over a dozen we found, but this from a few years ago will have to do.
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We found a number of C. viridis out basking on this beautiful day.
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I obviously ended up with quite a few "similar" shots, so I'll attempt to keep repeats to a minimum
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Here's one of the multiple viridis seen that day in situ, as spotted by "Eagle Eye" Trey.
Find the snake!
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There it is!
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And a little closer.
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Indeed we were having great weather, which made for some great herping.
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Beartooth Mountains from the hillsides we were hunting in.
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Aaaah, the Beartooths...
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With the warmth and recent moisture, many of the plants were coming into bloom. I'm a bit of a xerophyte/succulent aficionado in addition to being a herper, so I was thrilled to see Escobaria [Coryphantha] missouriensis in bloom with smokin' peach/orange flowers.
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The weather was so nice and the rocks had just the right amount of moisture for a number of Salamanders to be up and soaking up radiant heat.
Tiger Salamander, Ambystoma mavortium melanostictum.
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I snapped a few photos of this darker critter, too
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This mavortium was particularly bright looking.
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Agreed. It was a nice contrast to the drab bugger above
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We found over 10 Bull snakes, which I never get tired of.
Bull snake, Pituophis catenifer
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I took the time to photograph a number of them. Our Bull Snakes tend to be high-contrast, with lots of rusty-tinted blotches.
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Here's a different animal, as flipped
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Dell's daughter is a trooper. She can put up with conditions in the field that most grown-ass men would shun. Here she is with one of the day's Pituophis.
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For Cole and I it's Milk snakes that motivate us, and lucky for us he flipped this bright animal.
Milk snake, Lampropeltis triangulum multistrata.
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Of course, I photographed the milk, too... for a few minutes, anyway. My camera battery died shortly thereafter. Here are the results.
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A little different shot.
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Trey wanted to see a Horned Lizard, and we went to work in a little different spot to try and find these fat little gargoyles. We quickly found a neonate from last year.
Greater Short-horned lizard, Phrynosoma hernandesi.
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Then another.
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And a couple of adults.
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We always enjoy these spiky little guys.
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I'll round this out with a few more habitat shots, for those who care.
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-Cole
-Dell

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Kent VanSooy
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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by Kent VanSooy » May 27th, 2013, 2:03 pm

Loved it! The beasties are pretty up there, the scenery is fantastic, and the multiple narrators unique! Thanks gents.

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Rich in Reptiles
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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by Rich in Reptiles » May 27th, 2013, 5:14 pm

A Montana post!!! Awesome! The Pituophis is especially pretty, and i liked how that tiger photo turned out with the yellow lichens!

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jonathan
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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by jonathan » May 27th, 2013, 5:27 pm

So many rocks! Do you flip everything in an area or only pick the best-looking ones?

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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by Zach_Lim » May 27th, 2013, 11:17 pm

The habitat shots alone made my jaw drop to the floor.

Looks like an amazing time. Those Salamanders are killer!

Milk is stunning- wouldn't have expected less from you Milk-heads!

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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by TimCO » May 28th, 2013, 6:29 am

Love me some posts from the dynamic duo. Look for some out of state visitors soon.

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chris drake
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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by chris drake » May 28th, 2013, 2:21 pm

Great post Dell. Looked like a good day of herping. I could use some of those days. Love the milks. :)

Chris.

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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by John Williams » May 28th, 2013, 5:35 pm

Ditto, great stuff. Montana might have the finest looking bullsnakes in the states. Maybe viridis too.

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Neil M
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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by Neil M » May 28th, 2013, 8:19 pm

Dang you are getting me excited to move up to Montana next year for college!!! That milk and those tiger salamanders are awesome!!

Neil

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Kevin McRae
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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by Kevin McRae » May 28th, 2013, 9:14 pm

Great post! Montana is a very beautiful State. Love the bullsnakes and the horned lizards.

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kcmatt
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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by kcmatt » May 29th, 2013, 11:13 am

Obviously love the multistrata but also that awesome mavortium-- how many tigers did you flip? I was just in the Black Hills for work, and had to go tiger hunting and trout fishing as the crazy late spring weather dumped rain and low temps the whole time and kept multistrata options non-existant. Hopefully all the precip will pay off for you guys in the form of some great June herping. Thanks for the post, and for those habitat pics, Cole.

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Brendan
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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by Brendan » May 29th, 2013, 11:29 am

Beautiful shots of some areas we don't commonly get to see herps from. A few of those viridis are really nice.

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muskiemagnet
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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by muskiemagnet » May 29th, 2013, 1:33 pm

hey dell, take care of my good friend trey while he is in your neighborhood. he's definitely one of those genuine "good people" out there. we've been talking about stu and i heading out that way this fall. i didn't realize you were that close. i'm going camping with stu this weekend with saugas on the mind. we'll talk then. if we make it out there in the fall, we'll have to make a great fishing story happen and resurrect the "fishing story" thread once again.

-ben

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gbin
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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by gbin » May 29th, 2013, 7:32 pm

I like the tag-team aspect to the report, and of course I love the report. And can you believe it? An inveterate tricolor addict such as myself enjoying the gorgeous milksnake posted, but actually enjoying the bright yellow tiger salamander still more! Well done, guys! :beer:

Gerry

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justinm
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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by justinm » May 29th, 2013, 7:38 pm

Great post guys. I didn't at all expect the Short Horned Lizard, what a cool animal to get to see. The milks are very interesting and the habitat is super. I would love getting lost out there.

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Brandon D
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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by Brandon D » June 2nd, 2013, 10:15 pm

Awesome stuff guys great post I have to make it up there some time. Love the multi I was hoping to see a charina but great post regardless it's been a tough spring for me to

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Dell Despain
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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by Dell Despain » June 4th, 2013, 8:30 am

Kent VanSooy: Thanks so much Kent, always nice to hear positive comments from someone who does such great field work himself.
Rich in Reptiles wrote:A Montana post!!! Awesome! The Pituophis is especially pretty, and i liked how that tiger photo turned out with the yellow lichens!
The Ambystoma are always a treat for us up here, glad you liked the photos.
jonathan wrote:So many rocks! Do you flip everything in an area or only pick the best-looking ones?
Ha! We'd still be out there if we flipped every rock on that ranch. As you know Jonathan, so many herps can be under even a frisbee sized rock, but we try to cherry pick some of the best platers for sure.
These kinds of rock being ideal.
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If your heart-rate picks up when you walk up to a group of rocks like this, you might be a herper. :)
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Zach: Thanks a lot for the kind words. You should plan a spring trip up here sometime.
TimCO wrote:Look for some out of state visitors soon.
Looking forward to it. Were going to have a great time too, cigars are in the humidor waiting for you.

Chris Drake: Thanks Chris, get yourself out there it'll clear your head.
John Williams wrote:Ditto, great stuff. Montana might have the finest looking bullsnakes in the states. Maybe viridis too.
Good to hear from you John, I think we do have some sweet Bulls, and the Buzztails for viridis are nice enough, but not as nice as the Crots you guys are pulling in TX.
Neil M wrote:Dang you are getting me excited to move up to Montana next year for college!!! That milk and those tiger salamanders are awesome!!

Neil
Be prepared to work for the herps Neil, they aren't always easy, but your gonna love Missoula.

Kevin McRae: Thanks.
kcmatt wrote:the crazy late spring weather dumped rain and low temps the whole time and kept multistrata options non-existant.
I hear ya Matt, I've got M. Ingassi here as I write this, waiting for better weather to do more milk snake hunting. In the meantime we've been trout fishing as a time killer until the weather improves. :beer:
Brendan wrote: A few of those viridis are really nice.
Thanks Brendan, for viridis they aren't bad. Hard to beat most of the Buzztails you post however.
muskiemagnet wrote:hey dell, take care of my good friend trey while he is in your neighborhood. he's definitely one of those genuine "good people" out there.
I don't think Trey needs much help finding herps, and I'd be happy to herp w/ him again anytime. Maybe a different hat next time. :o :lol:

Thanks for the kind words Gerry, glad you liked the post.
justinm wrote: I would love getting lost out there.
You should make the effort sometime Justin, and we like to drink beer afterwards too. :beer:
Brandon D wrote: Love the multi I was hoping to see a charina but great post regardless
Ouch, missing the boas is still stinging a little. We still have a few weeks to find a boa however. Cross your fingers for us, we'll need it.
Thanks, and glad you liked the post Brandon.

-Dell

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Chris Smith
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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by Chris Smith » June 4th, 2013, 1:21 pm

Great stuff! Thanks for sharing.

-Chris

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keown
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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by keown » June 4th, 2013, 2:03 pm

Great post Dell. 8-) Oh and did I say that the photograpgy is fantastic. Makes me want to move back up in that part of the country again. The milks are always special. How many of those Tiger Salamanders did you guys find that day?

-Gerald

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Mike Pingleton
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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by Mike Pingleton » June 6th, 2013, 9:22 am

A tag-team Montana post. Awesome.

Look at all those gorgeous rocks! :D

-Mike

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Cole Grover
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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by Cole Grover » June 7th, 2013, 2:12 pm

Thanks for the kind words, folks. Sorry for the slow response on my part, luckily Dell's quick to the draw and handled it. Here are a few more shots for those who care.

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And a sweet little viridis with an ugly shed
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Gerald,
On that particular day, I believe we only found two. There were lots more found the following weekend, after five days of heavy, drenching rain.

Mike,
Thanks! I like rocks, too. My back, however, does not.

Ben,

Trey can hold his own. Solid dude, he is, and fits right in to the MT crowd. We're glad to have him here! You boys from WI don't seem to stand out like a sore thumb as to do many "foreigners" around here.

-Cole

Matt Cage
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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by Matt Cage » June 7th, 2013, 3:17 pm

Wow, that is some great stuff. One of these years I'm going to have to drive north! Great post, loved the commentary, animals and photos!

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Cole Grover
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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by Cole Grover » June 10th, 2013, 8:35 am

Matt,

Spring is a busy time for both Dell and me, but with a little planning, we'd love to show you (and Timmey) around.

-Cole

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Knightkrawler5
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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by Knightkrawler5 » June 10th, 2013, 9:59 am

Not sure how I missed this before...Awesome that you got Trey out looking for herps (Been a good friend of Treys for many years) He told me all about that day and got me excited to come out and visit

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Knightkrawler5
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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by Knightkrawler5 » June 10th, 2013, 10:00 am

I'm going to have to do a post soon to show him all he missed back here in WI for the spring........

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azatrox
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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by azatrox » June 11th, 2013, 5:19 am

Great stuff guys!

Those Pituophis are insane lookin' and those viridis are nice!

-Kris

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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by Reptiluvr » June 11th, 2013, 9:31 am

I'm loving those young Phrynosoma. They're the funniest looking lizards. I liked working with P. cornutum in Texas.

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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by hellihooks » June 11th, 2013, 9:47 am

I laughed, I cried, I banged my head on a wall, tween bouts of slack-jawed drooling somnolence, muttering "Wow, Wow, Wow", like a mantra. That's how good this post was. :D jim

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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by muskiemagnet » June 11th, 2013, 2:04 pm

hellihooks wrote:I laughed, I cried, I banged my head on a wall, tween bouts of slack-jawed drooling somnolence, muttering "Wow, Wow, Wow", like a mantra. That's how good this post was. :D jim
jim, settle down. go change your underwear. probably shooting blanks anyways though. :lol: :lol: :lol:

-ben

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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by Fundad » June 11th, 2013, 2:08 pm

Wow...

"Green with Envy" Image

I always look forward to your posts... Thank you for sharing..

The habitat photos :shock: :D , Milks, tigers... All Great shots..


It always feels you took us with you, great job everyone..

Those Rock pictures get the heart pumping..

Fundad

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Cole Grover
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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by Cole Grover » June 12th, 2013, 6:20 am

Thanks, guys! Glad you enjoyed. It has been a funky year, but getting out is always a good time!


-Cole

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MichaelCravens
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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by MichaelCravens » June 12th, 2013, 10:40 am

Dell, you never fail to impress!

Michael Cravens

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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by GetulaHunter » June 12th, 2013, 11:42 am

Hello Dell,

The icing would of been a couple of those beautiful Brownies and a Bronze-back or two! :crazyeyes: :crazyeyes: :crazyeyes:

Other then that well done my friend :shock: :shock: :D :D :shock: :shock:

J.P.

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Re: Herping the Big Sky.

Post by hellihooks » June 12th, 2013, 11:48 am

muskiemagnet wrote:
hellihooks wrote:I laughed, I cried, I banged my head on a wall, tween bouts of slack-jawed drooling somnolence, muttering "Wow, Wow, Wow", like a mantra. That's how good this post was. :D jim
jim, settle down. go change your underwear. probably shooting blanks anyways though. :lol: :lol: :lol:

-ben
The one thing I didn't do was chub. :crazyeyes: And I've never been charged with 'assault with a dead weapon' :crazyeyes: Although...I passed on the chanced to 'party' with 3 drunk women I met at a gas station, to go herping, last Sat night. :shock: At the time... I wasn't sure if 2 3's and a 4, would equal a 'ten'... but now kinda wish I'd 'done the math'... :roll: :lol: :lol: :lol: jim

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