Story Behind the Photo

Written and Photographed
by Mark Gocke

It’s always a treat to happen upon a red fox, but especially in the wintertime when it adds a splash of color to what’s often a mostly black and white landscape. When I came upon this fox it was on the move, generally paralleling the road I was on, but paying little attention to me. As it traveled along, I snapped a few photos and then I could see it was going to come to a small stream. Of course, I secretly hoped it would try to jump the stream for a sweet photo op, but usually what I’m hoping an animal might do never actually materializes. However, when the fox came to stream, it paused briefly, then drew back on its haunches and launched across the stream like a rocket. The leap probably only took about a second or less, but luckily, I was ready on the trigger and let the shutter fly, capturing one frame of it frozen in mid-air. I was reminded just how athletic wild animals are and that if you spend enough time out in nature, you will witness some amazing things! I ended up seeing the fox two more times, over the course of about two hours and three miles. On one of those occasions, it came within about 50 yards of me on the ice of Jackson Lake and decided to nap a bit. On the last encounter, I watched it somehow sniff out a duck that was buried under a couple feet of snow. So, I watched it devour its prize, feathers, feet and all!

Mark Gocke is a wildlife biologist who struggles with a serious addiction to photography. He has learned to cope by having an occasional craft brew and now, at times, has found he can have fun without necessarily snapping photos. Mark also happens to serve as the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Information and Education Specialist for the Jackson and Pinedale regions.