A band of mule deer gather on a ridge near Lander as the sun rises on Red Butte in March 2021. (Nick Knoke)

When Lander photographer Nick Knoke rose early on a recent winter morning to catch the sunrise over Red Butte — a prominent geographic feature west of town — he didn’t expect company. 

But after hiking up the ridge on a frozen crust of snow, he said, he realized he wasn’t alone; a band of mule deer had also gathered on the shoulder. 

I saw first light on Red Butte, and noticed the deer just down the ridge from me; it felt like we all watched the sunrise together,” Knoke told WyoFile in an email.

After taking in the show, the deer went on their way, Knoke wrote. “And I headed back down to my car, and headed back down to Lander to start my day.”

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Katie Klingsporn is WyoFile's managing editor. She is a journalist and word geek who has been writing about life in the West for 15 years. Her pieces have appeared in Adventure Journal, National Geographic...

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