A Duck Flew Over Jersey


Every so often we here at *The Institute like to present some new tidbit of information that our readers don’t know anything about, but that we’ve known about for moments. Today it isn’t really about ducks as the image above may imply, but it’s about Jersey, the country, not the state with all the exits.

Let us back up a moment and explain. First did you even know that there was a country named Jersey. Bet you didn’t. We did because today at our early morning staff meeting we were going over and analyzing the stats for BigShotsNow the blog and there on the report that shows which countries had visited the blog today, was Jersey. Jersey, the country. Many of our younger staff members thought it was a mistake and that the program had dropped the “New” part off of its name. It was those members that had flunked Geography continually right up until they had graduated from college that were most amazed that there could actually be a country named Jersey, and if there were, why had it been named after our American state of the same name. The “E Street Band” is well-known and certainly well worth it, but could it cause a whole country to be named after it? We don’t know, it’s possible I guess. That just goes to show you the value of the “No Child Left Behind” program where entire classes could be promoted to the next grade not knowing if they had walked to school, or wound their watch, as my dad used to say.

Now to use a phrase from one of our more forgettable vice-presidents those “nattering nabobs of negativity” will say “There is no country named Jersey. This is one of those con-jobs you Institutions pull to make yourself look smarter than us.” Well, that’s simply not true. It isn’t, really!  As proof we offer the flag  2016-09-24jerseyflagmap of Jersey, and a real map not drawn by us 2016-09-24jerseymap of the country of Jersey itself. This is a real map not some made up fake one that you see at other Institutes. As you can see by the inclusion of the five cities that are the primary habitation of the 100,000 people that live there. Our favorite is Bouley Bay, pronounced Boo-Lay not Bool because it sounds cooler. It’s our favorite just because it is fun to say. “Bouley, Bouley Bay, OK, OK.” See? We’ve been saying that all morning just as soon as we saw it on the map.

Yes, but what about the duck and the title “A Duck Flew Over Jersey”? If you’ve been a reader of the blog for more than five postings you know that we use a picture as a lead-in to our posts. Normally there would be a more obvious direct tie-in of the picture to the story, but we had this picture of a duck and then those guys from Jersey dropped in and well, we had to do something. So we asked around and sure enough a duck like this, or at least one similar, had flown over New Jersey and by using simple logic, which we might add we excel at, if a duck flew over New Jersey then by rights it could have flown over the country of Jersey too, so, then, well there you have it.  Note: the duck flying over Jersey, the country, may look significantly different than the one pictured above due to the fact that the duck pictured may not even live around Jersey, the country. We didn’t have time, or frankly the inclination, to check that out. Tenuous connection maybe, but so what.

So we say to you folks from Jersey the Country, thanks for stopping by. It was great to have you here and thanks also for lending us the word “bailiwick”. When we were kids we remember old people, those in their 40’s and the really old near-death ones in their 50’s, say things like ” They’re not from around these bailiwicks.” when confronted with strangers, as if where we, the normal good people, lived was a collection of places grouped together that were separate and of course better from the rest of the countryside surrounding us. That meant that if you were from that other weird bailiwick, you could very easily be people of little worth. Of course now with all the political correctness going on we don’t do that anymore, as all people are equally good and worthy. It’s a great time to be American isn’t it.

To all you Jersians, come on back, bring your friends, bring your flag, we’d like to see it close up. Spread the word that although you are a bailiwick-ian you’re always welcome here.

* Note: For those of you unfamiliar with The Institute and what it does, please see the page labeled The Institute on the Menu Bar above. That should explain everything. You shouldn’t have one single question remaining regarding The Institute after reading it. None. For those of you favored few who already know about the Institute, Nevermind.

Big News ! Exciting News! OpenChutes is Live!

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Big News ! Exciting  News! OpenChutes is Live! Hooray and Hallelujah!

OpenChutes.com,  the newest member of our family, went live! today. This new blog will exclusively feature all of the images and stories previously posted at BigShotsNow the Blog. Plus everything new from this point on. For those of you coming here to see the various powwows that have been published here, those original posts will still be here. But there won’t be any new postings. They’ll all go directly to OpenChutes.com. However if you want everything in one place, kind of like Wal-Mart, those original posts have been copied to the new site. So how can you lose ? You can’t. All the good stuff is there, plus to all of you that I met over the summer at the various powwows and rendezvous, rodeos, and other places, those pictures will be going up here as fast we can post them.

So come celebrate the Grand Opening of the best site on the net for Powwows, Mountain men, Rendezvous, Rodeos, Cowboys, all of your favorite western events at




As Fall closes in on us all the animals in the park are preparing for the winter. For some like the Yellow-bellied Marmot this means gathering all the grass that it can stuff in its burrow. If you’re a buffalo not only do you stuff your big fat face with all the grass and foliage that you can, you also grow a thick mat of hair all over your body and especially on your face. This will allow you to push that face into the snow over and over again looking for that old frozen grass and not freeze your nostrils off.

Birds for the most part, being infinitely smarter than other animals just bail as soon they notice the cold and head for places that are warm. Miami, Rio, South Texas. They don’t bother with all that extra feeding. It’s hard to fly if you’re a 15 lb. Bluebird, so they opt for dining lightly on the trip south.We could go on and on about all the idiosyncrasies of the different animals preparing for winter but you all have cable, you watch the Animal Planet so you’re pretty aware of all the preparations they make.

What you may not know however is the huge amount of prep and practice that goes into the bears preparation for wintering over in Yellowstone. Especially grizzlies. Yes, you know about going in the cave, sleeping, then doing that some more until winters over and it’s safe to come out. But what you don’t know is how difficult it is for a naturally active grizzly bear to just go into that cave and go to sleep and stay that way for like six months or more sometimes.

He’s just had a very full summer of dashing around eating Elk calves, tearing the lids off of garbage cans, biting the occasional tourist, fighting with other grizzly bears, thinking bear thoughts, leaving bear tracks along the lake’s edge for tourists to find so they can see how big he is, having to deal with those pesky wolves, getting the occasional ear tag for some infraction or other. It’s a lot of work being a grizzly and along about November or even late October they have to go to bed again. Except they’re really amped. They are pumped up from the busy summer and sleep is the last thing on their minds.

They’re thinking about all the cool stuff they got away with this summer, pulling the door off that camping trailer, hooking up with that hot little female, running off before the rangers could shoot it with those rubber bullets. There’s no way it’s going to sleep.

But sleep it must. They can’t be up and goofing around during the winter, that’s not how this whole bear thing works. It’s designed for the bear to sleep for the winter or else everything just goes all wonky and we can’t have that. After an exhaustive study to see how these grizzly bears handle this problem it was found that they have developed a pretty inventive solution to it. They practice sleeping. That’s it. Just practice. Every chance they get, like after a great big meal of freshly killed buffalo for instance, they just crap out along side the carcass and sleep for as long as they can. That’s what this guy in the picture above is doing. You can’t see the carcass because he’s sprawled on top of it to keep the magpies and ravens from getting it. In a while he’ll wake up and eat some more, then go back to sleep again and will repeat this maneuver until he’s got the ability to got to sleep at the drop of a shinbone. This repetition of eating and sleeping gets his weight up to about eight hundred plus pounds or so, kind of like when we eat that Family size, Papa’s Favorite Pizza from Papa Murphy’s with extra red sauce and cheese at 2:30 in the morning and wake up later unable to fit our shoes on.

This is how they get all the sleep experience they require to stay asleep for months. This is also the time they perfect their dreaming skills. To see what they dream about check out this previous post http://www.bigshotsnow.com/2014/11/09/ and it will tell you all you need to know about Bear dreams. It won’t be long now before all that practice will be put to good use. The leaves will fall, the winds turn cold, and the long trek up the mountain to enter the cave he has used for the last six years will begin. Fortunately the bear has prepared himself well and as soon as he gets settled in and gets all turned around just right with his nose pointed toward the entrance, he will do that thing he does to cause him to fall asleep and that’s it. He’s in for the duration. He’ll sleep until the first trickle of melting snow runs down his back. Then he’ll be up and at it again. Nature has come full circle.


When Summer Changes To Fall


With every major change of the seasons, Winter to Spring, Summer to Fall, the Canada geese would make their pilgrimages either North or South. To get there on time they would normally head in the intended direction when the weather was also starting to change. In the Spring the snow would still be lingering on the north slopes, and the back roads, unpaved as always, would be muddy tracks through the fields or trees. In the Fall the leaves would be well along, having changed color, drying out and wavering in the chilly wind, some having fallen already and crunching beneath my heavy boots.

My mind, sodden from the memory of the winter and the constancy of the cold, never quite believing that it would ever end, was hungry for the next signs promising the change and deliverance of the next season. When I thought I was at the end of my patience that’s when the Canada geese would appear. I would begin listening for them, impatient for their arrival, scanning the horizon for those first waves of V shaped formations, their strong wings powering their way towards me. I would listen harder and eventually I would be rewarded with the staccato cries of the geese calling from high up in the clouds. My ears catching every note as it sifted down through the grey misty haze and broke like sharp, crystal-edged flakes of sound around my soul. Each call a request, an invitation to join them, if only I weren’t locked tightly to the earth.

Take me with you, I would say to them quietly, take me with you. Often I would call it loudly up into the sky in a vain attempt to reach them, to make them see that I was trapped here and could not leave. I wanted desperately to join them, to go with them to those far off places, but they never paused in the steady rhythmic beating of their wings. If they saw or heard me they showed no sign of it, for I was not of them.

Year after year, season after season, it never failed to happen. When the first wings appeared out of the distance, impossibly high, looking like dotted lines drawn against the expanse of sky, their bodies just a dark silhouette, always, always when the first faint call reached out of the mist, the thought would jump unbidden into my mind. Look, I am here, take me along.

Heading north in the Spring and south in the Fall, stark against a deep blue sky, every feather outlined in perfect detail, or passing through clouds, their shapes becoming faint and opaque like shadows barely seen in the darkness. Their calls muffled, the size of their bodies getting ever smaller as I watched them recede into the distance, their calls fainter and fainter until they were gone and only an echo of them remained in my mind. Take me with you, I would say, and though I was forever rooted to the ground, I never ceased to ask.

Now years later I still find that catch in my throat as I stand here leaning against the door frame, my nose pressed tightly against the metal mesh inhaling the sharp metallic tang of cool fall air through the screen door. I’m waiting once again for the sound and sight of the high-flying geese heading South. I am here and the season is changing yet again.







Full Moon Over The Crow Camp

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This post has been moved to OpenChutes.com. All future postings of Powwows, Indian Relay Races, Rodeos and Rendezvous will be posted there from now on exclusively. So if you’re looking for new images and posts for all those events attended this year, plus all the old posts posted on BigShotsNow.com check out OpenChutes.com. See you there!

It was nearly midnight as I walked through the camp. It had been a long day. It was Crow Fair 2016 and as always it was spectacular. Starting early in the morning to photograph the staging of the parade, following and shooting the dance competitions, watching the evening performances, it was a day packed full of excitement. This was the last day and I was heading home in the morning.

It had been cloudy and although the sky was covered by those clouds, occasionally the full moon would show itself but never long enough to get a good shot of it. But as luck sometimes favors the photographer the clouds seemed to dissolve and there it was in all its glory, full and round and positioned exactly where it needed to be to make this image. I was given a present in the form of this last memory. Walking through the cool night, feeling the moonlight wash over me, hearing the sound of laughter, singing, people calling out to each other, this was the perfect ending to a summer-long trip along the Powwow trail.

I began the summer in late April with the opportunity to photograph the largest powwow in North America, the Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Thousands of dancers, singers, drummers, participants, spectators, all brought together to celebrate their culture. This was spectacle at its grandest. At one point there were over 2800 dancers coming and going from the arena floor. This is like the Superbowl of powwows.

As the summer progressed I had the opportunity to attend powwows and meet people from nearly every tribe in the western part of the United States. There were Shoshone, Arapaho, Bannock, Cree, Chippewa, Blackfeet, Nez Perce, Sioux, Comanche, Apache, Navajo, Hopi, and many other tribes. There were people from the Cree And Chippewa tribes that came down from Canada to participate in the Chippewa/Cree powwow at Rocky Boy Montana. This event was held in the rolling hills of Northern Montana on a hillside where you could see for two days in any direction. No buildings in sight, nothing but the golden prairie stretching on for miles and miles. The sound of drums and singing and the people dancing carried on the wind for days. The reservation in nestled up against the Canadian border just east of Glacier National Park and it was one of the most natural, authentic places I had the good fortune to visit.

People from the various tribes in Washington and Oregon were at different events along the way. It was a chance to see their different regalia and styles of dancing. All were welcome and made to feel like part of the family. That’s what these gatherings felt like. Large family gatherings where you got to see cousins that you hadn’t seen in years. A place where acquaintances were made and spiritual ceremonies brought everyone close together. The sense of community was strong. It felt good to be there.

Over the course of the summer I took over 20,000 images, many were of the various rodeos that were part of the powwow, but never the less, I took a lot of photographs. Now that I am back at my studio I will begin the daunting task of processing these images and posting them on the site. Hopefully the wait hasn’t been too long for those wanting to see the shots of their powwows. Each event will have its images posted as I get to them. My apologies for the delay.

This has been an incredible summer and I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity to observe, photograph, join in. I got to march in the Color Guard at the Western Shoshone/ Bannock Grand Entry where they celebrated the Vets that had served in all the wars. That was the first time in over 50 years that I have had the opportunity to participate in something like that and I will cherish the experience forever. But just as importantly it was the ability to be able to be a very small part in the total experience. Thank you one and all for making that experience possible for me.

As time goes on I will get the photographs you want to see posted. If you don’t see your event, don’t worry it’ll be there. Also please feel free to email me if you have any questions. Thanks for a great summer.