Branding Day

October 30, 2023  •  2 Comments

Walking on the Wild Side

Branding Day

 (2022) - Hamilton, MT

Open edition 12" x 24" canvas print available just click on the photo above to purchase (Price $350 plus shipping) 


Not all my subjects are wild animals. I am not a studio portrait or wedding photographer and have no wishes to be one.  I do however strive to grow my skills as a photographer and to broaden my horizons by trying new things. When the opportunity to experience a day on a ranch was presented, I tested my skills at capturing the essence of Montana ranching.  Many thanks to Banks Bitterroot Ranch ( ) and the Hawk's (Jennifer, Colby and JD) for allowing me access to the ranch, setting up a photo shoot and for the hospitality.  That is JD in the picture above roping a calf for branding while snow showers hit the bitterroot mountains in the background. 


"Wrangler" (Montana)

Open edition 12" x 12" canvas print available just click on the photo above to purchase (Price $200 plus shipping) 

It was mid April when I was invited to the Banks Bitterroot Ranch to take photos of ranch operations. Cody (pictured above) was the one that brought it all together.  I had just met him at the Great Western show the prior month where his wife had some amazing metal sculptures at the show. Cody happened to be the head ranch hand at the banks Bitterroot ranch and thought it would be great if I came to take pictures. So he gathered up some other seasoned ranch hands, including his brother, and chose a day which was forecast to be mostly sunny with mild spring-like temperatures. However, in true Montana fashion the weather forecast was completely wrong. The day had that bone chilling cold bite to it with periodic snow showers on and off to keep things interesting. As any rancher or photographer knows – no matter the weather -- the work must go on! So I grabbed my hat, gloves, jacket and cameras and followed along. I was ready to capture the essence of ranching in Montana no matter the conditions.

The first task for the day was to round up the cattle for a Spring health check-up, apply de-wormer, complete any required vaccinations and for those that are new to add ear tags.  With the ease of routine and in true Old Western Style, the ranch hands mounted their horses and prepared to round up the longhorns from a nearby pasture. Doing my best to stay out of the way, I captured pictures perched on top of the corral fence as they drove the cows from the pasture toward the holding pen. As they neared the gate, I dropped from the fence to sit low to the ground with my camera pointed through the open rails in order to witness the cows as they rounded the corner in a “Stampede”. This was the angle I was looking for, the one that captured the feeling of being in the direct path of these very large animals. While I was safely on the other side of the fence, it was surreal to have several thousand pounds of longhorn cows barreling straight toward me. Not only could I hear the sound of the hooves but I could feel the vibration through the ground as the longhorn cattle passed by. 


"Stampede" (Longhorn Cattle)


Stampede (Longhorn Cattle)Stampede (Longhorn Cattle)

Limited edition print (limited to 50) - click on the photo for sizes and pricing


"Long Horns" (Longhorn Cattle) 

Open edition 11" x 14" framed print available just click on the photo above to purchase (Price $80 plus shipping)


The longhorn cattle first arrived in Montana in the late 1800's. While there are many different breeds raised here in Montana the longhorn have a few features worth mentioning. Being the geek that I am, I could not resist looking up some interesting facts so I am passing along what I found.

  • Easy to breed with natural resistance to several diseases and parasites

  • Leaner cuts of meat which is often in demand

  • Longhorn will graze on almost any type of forage so they require less supplemental feed

  • Longhorn are very adaptable to different climates


Lea Frye - Wildlife photographer

More Pictures From My Day Including Branding


     |      Lea Frye, Wildlife Photographer        |    Helena, MT

                     Wild Animals / Wild Landscapes



Lea.F Images
Thank you Sue!
I LOVE longhorns and their infinite variability of coat and horn. Good shots!
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