Photo Session with Hawk

By SuzAnne Miller    Cover Photo by John Ashley
Issue 2 Article 6: October 2016
Dunrovin Ranch Lifestyle Magazine

Almost exactly one year ago, Dunrovin was on the search for a couple new horses. The summer of 2015 had been very busy and we often had to turn away business for lack of an appropriate horse to do the job. Autumn is the best time of all for purchasing a horse. It is right before the down winter season when we have time to dedicate to getting a new horse acclimatized to us and our herd. It is also when horses tend to sell for a little less. People often wait until after the summer riding season to put a horse up for sale.

Our search began with me putting out the word among my friends. Sure enough, within a day or so a good friend who loves to watch the horses for sale on Craigslist sent me an e-mail alerting me to what sounded like a great Tennessee Walking Horse. The rest of this part of my story is featured in the winter issue of Distinctly Montana (flip to page 28). In short, I not only ended up purchasing the horse that was advertised, but I also came to rope the then owner, Rick Hawk Hurst, into working with Dunrovin.

You see, Hawk is anything but ordinary. He is one of the most unique individuals I have ever encountered. His dedication to his interest in mountain-men history is all-consuming and infectious. It is impossible to be in his presence and not be enthralled with his enthusiasm and knowledge of the west as it was in the early 1800s. His smile, his whole persona, draws you in like a magnet.

As we got to know Hawk and his lovely wife, Julie, I began to see lots of opportunities for getting them both engaged with our ranch guests. He would be an excellent guide for our special Lewis and Clark trail rides; she is a terrific hostess and could help us with special events; and his love of teaching children makes him a natural for kids’ camps.

In order to get the ball rolling, we needed some photos of him for our website. My good friend and artistic photographer, John Ashley, was going to be in town, and one of my then wranglers, Danielle—who later took over as the ranch manager when that position became open, with both talents and interests in photography—was available. So, I called Hawk on a rather cold and snowy early November day and had him come over to pose for some photographs.

Unable to help myself, I also took my little point-and-shoot camera out to take my own set of Hawk photos. Well, all of you can see the gradation of photographic talents on display in the following photos.

Left Photo by John Ashley, Center Photos by Danielle Brooker, and Right Photos by SuzAnne Miller

Left Photo by John Ashley, Center Photos by Danielle Brooker, and Right Photos by SuzAnne Miller

John Ashley is a true professional. He is an artist in every sense of the word, using his camera to create some truly stunning photos. A visit to his website, John Ashley Fine Art, will immerse you into Montana’s wild nature, wildlife, and spectacular night skies. Just this month John won the High Plains Book Award for Science and Medicine with his book Glacier National Park After Dark.

Professional Photographer John Ashley Captures Hawk in Great Detail

Professional Photographer John Ashley Captures Hawk in Great Detail

Danielle has a degree in journalism and is a budding amateur photographer. Since meeting John for the first time during Hawk’s photographic session, she and he went on to host a series of photographic tele-training sessions via out website and web cameras. This will certainly be the subject of a future article in our magazine.

Danielle Brooker's Photos are colorful and vibrant.

Danielle Brooker's Photos are colorful and vibrant.

Finally, over the past several years I have developed a love of taking my little Panasonic Lumix point-and-shoot camera with me wherever I go. Unfortunately, I have yet to actually sit down and learn the ins and outs of how to use it properly, but that doesn’t seem to slow me down. I consistently leave it on the “Intelligent Auto Plus” mode (read the “for idiots” setting) which consistently produces photos to my liking. My main efforts go into trying to “frame the photo” by getting in the right position and letting the intelligent part of the camera do its work.

SuzAnne's photos of John and Danielle taking photos of Hawk

SuzAnne's photos of John and Danielle taking photos of Hawk

Working with Hawk and his longtime companion and steady steed, Cazador, as our model was great fun. Hawk is a most colorful character with his mountain-man garb and his boyish grin. He is also a most affable fellow, willing to race Cazador through the snow for just the right shot, or crisscross the Bitterroot River multiple times. It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.

 

John’s and Danielle’s photos are exactly what we needed to post on our website to let the world know that riding with Hawk the mountain man is a must-do experience at Dunrovin.