Return to Mary's Home Page

My sister-in-law took me to my first Cabelas while on a visit to Minnesota back in the 1990s.  When she first suggested going to an outdoor store I didn't know what could be so interesting as I'm not into camping or hunting.  I didn't even bother to take my camera.  So when we got their and saw the spectacular animal exhibits I was awestruck and insisted we return the next day so I could photograph them.  I returned the next day and shot pictures until my camera battery died.  Since then I have made a point of visiting every Cabelas we have encountered in our travels.  So far, we have visited Cabelas in Owatonna, Minnesota, Mitchell, South Dakota, Sidney, Nebraska, and Hamburg, Pennsylvania.  I missed seeing the exhibits in the Lehi, Utah store by only one week and now I understand there are stores in Washington and outside Boise, Idaho.  I hope to visit them next summer.

Cabelas does such an outstanding job of posing the animals in lifelike settings and engaged in lifelike movements that I found their exhibit far superior to the newly refurbished "Hall of Mammals" at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, at least IMHO.  Cabelas gave me an opportunity to become a virtual wildlife photographer without the travel and physical endurance required by expeditions to rugged and remote environments.  I hope you enjoy my view of the animals as much as I did.

I always admired the wildlife photographers of National Geographic but I knew I would probably never get the chance to travel to such exotic places with such expensive equipment or acquire such vast experience to ever be able to capture such dramatic images. However, when I visited Cabelas Outdoor Outfitter in Owatonna, Minnesota with my Sony FD-81 digital camera (my first digital camera!) I had no idea I would find such beautiful museum-quality animal exhibits in such dramatic poses. It is truly an aspiring wildlife photographer's dream.


 I used to love to play a PC game called ECO: East Africa. As the game warden of the mythical game preserve called Ethemba, I was faced by a number of challenges. Poachers had overrun the park, the tourists and scientists had left, and the local natives were restless. You needed to drive the poachers out, enhance the environment so animals will be healthy and increase in numbers, attract new tourists and scientists, keep the local natives happy, and promote the park. You also had to monitor the rainfall and build water reservoirs in time of drought. You interviewed candidates for assistant rangers, medical personnel and animal researchers. You  even had to respond to inquiries from wildlife organizations, safari agencies, and your own government bureaucrats. You experienced different times of day and night and observed different animal behaviors as they reacted to changes in the park's ecosystem. It was an award-winning simulation released in 1995.  It's one of the reasons I kept my Windows 95 workstation so I could enjoy older games like ECO: East Africa.  I have since purchased Zoo Tycoon and a bunch of add-ons as they have been released but haven't had a chance to play them.  Now that I am retired maybe I'll have time to give them a look.

Wildlife of the Rockies 

 The following images were taken with a Sony FD-81 digital camera at Cabela's Outdoor Outfitters in Sidney, Nebraska. Cabela's animal exhibits are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. Their natural poses make them appear so lifelike and they are well lighted providing photographers with opportunities for perfectly composed images without the unnatural glare of using a flash.
 Even to a bobcat, grooming is important. Although bobcats weigh on average 15-20 pounds, they have been known to reach 30 pounds and are capable of taking down a fully mature deer.
Male bighorn sheep may ram each other at speeds of 50-70 miles per hour with an estimated force of 2400 pounds.
 The spiraled horns of a bighorn sheep were horns were used by some Indians to make powerful bows
 Bobcats subsist on a diet of rabbits, ground squirrels, mice, pocket gophers and wood rats although quail and grouse occasionaly contribute to a bobcat's meal as well.
While the badger's diet consists mainly of rodents, they are very fond of rattlesnakes. They can survive a direct strike by the snake unless they are bitten on the nose.
 Deer are excellent swimmers and can run up to 35 mph.
Although mountain goats are agile due to its hooves with cushioned skid-proof pads for grip, their greatest cause of death is accidents. My colleague, Terry Kneen, also reports that in Glacier National Park, these animals are so accustomed to humans that they will simply walk past you on a mountain trail without any appearance of skittishness.
 When we were ranching in eastern Oregon in the early 1980s, both coyotes and jack rabbits were very plentiful. When I would come home from work after dark, my headlights would swing across the road and it was a seething mass of rabbits.  On my last two trips through Oregon's High Desert, though,  I haven't seen a single one.
 Here on the campus of the University of Oregon we have a healthy population of gray squirrels. Our lush deciduous trees draw them like a magnet and they rarely have to contend with any predators except the occasional dog. Grays are the most numerous squirrel species in North America.
 The moose's neck wattle can grow up to two feet long. These horse-sized members of the deer family are not as cumbersome as they look. I once saw a moose running through 4-foot snow drifts as if it was running on an open plain.
Fortunately, I have never had a personal encounter with a grizzly bear. These animals can weigh up to 1500 pounds.
Wolves were recently reintroduced into several western states including Idaho. A couple of the Idaho wolves migrated into Oregon and caused an immediate uproar from the local livestock growers. Although Oregon is generally regarded as a conservation-sensitive state, the livestock growers here still pose a formidable political obstacle to some conservation efforts.
The gray fox, weighing 7 - 11 pounds, is the only member of the canine family that can climb trees in search of birds or eggs to supplement its primary diet of small mammals, fruits, acorns, and berries.
You can usually smell a javelina before you see one because of powerful scent glands in their rump. For this reason they are sometimes called a musk hog. However, javelinas belong to a totally different anatomical family than true pigs. Males sport sharp javelin-like tusks that give the animal its name.
Contrary to common belief, both lynx and bobcats have ear tufts. However, a bobcat's tail is tipped with white while the end of a lynx's tail is solid black.
The marmot, or groundhog, is considered a delicacy in some parts of the world. Here, it is primarily prized for its weather forecasting ability. In addition to Phil of Punxsutawney fame there is also an albino groundhog named Willie that is honored with a statue in the Canadian town of Wiarton on the Bruce Penninsula of Lake Huron.

 Fowl of Field and Stream
These images were taken with a Sony FD-81 digital camera at Cabela's Outdoor Outfitters in Sidney, Nebraska and Owatonna, Minnesota. Cabela's naturalistic dioramas provide habitat reference as well as an excellent backdrop for photographs. I also find it increases interest to include an occasional closeup.

American Goldeneye - In spite of its short, heavy body and small wings, it can fly at ninety miles an hour according to observations by James Audubon.
The Greater Sage Grouse is one of the largest species of grouse with males weighing up to 8 lbs.

I had always heard that pheasant-under-glass was a kingly repast but my first taste of pheasant resembled only a slight variation of chicken breast. I much prefer to watch these beautiful birds. A pair of ring-necked pheasant live in our pasture and I find their call comforting in the early morning.

Blue-winged Teal have the highest annual mortality rate (reaching 65%) of all the dabbling ducks, possibly as a result of hunting and long over-ocean migration. They migrate as far south as Chile and Argentina and a few winter on the Galapagos Islands.
Wood ducks prefer riparian habitats, wooded swamps, and freshwater marshes since females like to nest in tree cavities.

Pheasants are a species of galliforme, the same family of birds that include peacocks.
Pin Tails feed largely upon bulbous roots, tender shoots, insects and their larvae, worms and snails, and even acorns.

Sage hens are sometimes called prairie chickens. A female grouse can raise up to a dozen chicks in a single clutch.
Ptarmigans are also a type of grouse but prefer a more moutainous habitat. There are three kinds of Ptarmigan - Rock, Willow, and White-tailed.

Like many bird species, the male wood duck is more brightly colored than the female. The male call is a thin, high, rising "jeeeeee." Females utter a drawn-out, rising squeal, "oo-eek" when flushed, and a sharp "cr-r-ek, cr-e-ek" for an alarm call.

Black ducks feed on plant material, insects, and amphibians in shallow fresh water and mollusks and crustaceans in maritime habitats.

Ruddy Ducks breed primarily in the prairie region of North America as well as the Intermountain West.
Ptarmigans were a primary food source
for Alaskan natives in the 1900s.


The gray fox is the only fox that regularly climbs trees to evade predators and to hunt its own prey, giving it the nickname "tree fox."Its diet consists of small mammals, insects, fruits, acorns, birds, and eggs. Due to its climbing expertise, arboreal creatures such as squirrels are more important to the gray fox's diet than to those of other wild canids

Lynx are solitary, nocturnal animals who often travel up to twelve miles in a single night searching for food. They stalk and ambush their prey by sight and sound, sound being most important. It is thought that their long ear tufts are useful in detecting the movements of their prey. Lynx are also excellent swimmers and climbers. Snowshoe hares make up the majority of the lynx's diet, but they will also eat rodents, birds and fish.

The bear-like wolverine has been called the rarest mammal in North America. The only documented Lower 48 populations are in the northern Rockies and the Cascades of Oregon and Washington. These animals are known as ferocious carnivores that will attack and kill a caribou or even a moose. They are related to skunks and, although they don't spray, they do mark territory with a strong-scented musk.

Far North...



To see even more exhibits from all of the Cabela's outlets I have photographed, visit my Wildlife of the World Flickr photoset.  All of my images are licensed through Creative Commons for noncommercial use with the attribution, "Photo by Mary Harrsch".  Any derivatives must also be attributed and shared in a like manner (free for noncommerical use).