April 1967


The desert buck photo


One day when Bill was Forest Ranger at Mountainair, we took the kids and went on a pasear through the Cibola National Forest near Gallinas Peak, looking for the elk herd that he had seen before.  We didn’t have any success at that, but we stopped and had our picnic lunch, and looked at the country east of the Gallinas.  It was pretty sandy, full of mesquite, not good for much but grazing a few head of range cows.  Bill had met most of the ranchers out there, and had a few stories to tell.  As we were going along on the gravel road, he pulled off to the north onto a dirt road and drove about two miles, then pulled up.  We walked out to a long, low hump, where a bit of adobe wall was sticking up.  He identified it as White Pueblo, unexcavated, even though the USFS had known about it for some time.  He said they didn’t want it publicized, because the pothunters would be out to dig it up the day after the newspapers found out about it.   We looked around a bit, then proceeded on back to the road.  Just after getting back to the road and heading west again, I spotted a very nice mule deer (guess a ten-point) about sixty yards away through the mesquite.  Bill stopped the pickup, and I took the picture without getting out.  Just as I was getting focused with my new camera, a shaft of sunlight broke through the cloud cover that had been with us all day.  That shaft illuminated the buck like a spotlight, as if he were on a stage.  I shot two pictures, then he whirled and left. 


The next day, we went to the mission ruins at Abo, in the pass over the Manzanos on the way to Belen.  When I started to take a picture, the film had run out.  I unthinkingly opened the camera (remember I said this was a new camera?) to put in new film.  Too late, I realized I had not rewound the film and my photo of the buck – once in a lifetime –was gone, ruined by the light.