THE Traveler: Chuck Kartak of North Branch, Minn.

The scene: A May snowfall shrouds a bison cow and calf in South Dakota’s Custer State Park.

Destination details: Kartak traveled with a group of former co-workers — all retirees from Minnesota state parks — to Custer State Park in the Black Hills. The park, which officially became a state park in 1919, is South Dakota’s first and largest state park and has a herd of around 1,200 bison. “It is referred to by some Minnesotans as the Itasca of South Dakota and is a highly recommended stop as a destination in itself or for anyone traveling west to the Rockies,” Kartak wrote in an e-mail.

Getting the shot: Kartak used a Canon 80D with a Tamron 15-600mm lens. He rose early in what turned out to be a 12-inch snowfall to drive the park’s Wildlife Loop in search of bison, with binoculars at the ready. “There were a number of calves frolicking in what may have been their first view of snow. I waited for a moment to capture the somewhat mystical image of the cow and calf. It was challenging because of the distance and the snowfall with low light conditions, necessitating all manual settings,” he wrote. “The image captures both the end of an era when millions of bison roamed the plains, and the rebirth of herds due to modern wildlife management efforts.”


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