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Through the Lens: Cat Hesselbacher captures nature at its finest

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Cat Hesselbacher, owner of Silver Pine Ranch Photography in Meeteetse, spends most of her time traveling the Wyoming high country in search of her favorite subject matter – Mother Nature.

Cat, initially from Oregon, moved to Wyoming 13 years ago but has been behind the lens for over 30 years. 

No stranger to ranch life, Cat raised alfalfa and high-dollar horses on her 140-acre ranch in Oregon. It’s there she started her photography career, taking pictures of her boys riding rough stock through the years. From sheep to bulls, she was in the arena capturing the moment.

Cat attended the New York Institute of Photography and earned her ICA photo card, allowing her to take rodeo shots in the middle of the action.

“I was the crazed horse girl growing up and dreamed about owning a ranch, and I continue to dream today,” she states.

So, when Cat is not capturing nature’s finest in one of her favorite spots in the Teton Range, she is at home raising registered Scottish Highlanders in her other family business – Beartooth Highlands – which they just started.

She adds, “I have always loved them. They are a beautiful breed with such great personality.”

On the wild side

“I grew up watching Wild Kingdom, and my love for animals and the outdoors has always been there. It’s why we moved to Wyoming, so I could be closer to my subject matter. It’s a photographer’s paradise,” Cat continues. 

Her photographs depict her passion for the outdoors. Whether catching wildlife in action or nature in its full beauty, her love is captured in the shot.

“Bears, moose and elk are my favorite to catch if they let me,” she recalls. “I have had the pleasure to capture the spirit of wild horses as well.”

Cat continues, “I have had some close encounters leaving me a little shaken, but I was able to get the shot – three in one week even.” 

“One day I pulled up to two grizzly bears where a boar was looking for his girlfriend, and when I rolled my window down, you could hear him snorting and clicking his teeth. Then, about 50 feet away, he emerged,” she shares. “I always wanted a shot of a bear with their face covered by a shadow, like in Braveheart, and there it was. I got the shot.”

Today, in Cat’s repertoire, the famous “Brave Heart” image enamors her audience. She also added a new photo to her collection – a cow moose wading in the river on a beautiful October day, displaying her quirky personality. 

“No humans, wildlife only,” she jokes. “Landscapes, wildlife and ranches are my focus.”

Catch the action

To view Cat’s breathtaking work of art, stop by the Open Range Gallery in Cody. It is fine art photography at its best, where 11 local photographers work under one roof. 

“It’s across the street from the famous Buffalo Bill’s Irma Hotel, and all of the artist’s work in the gallery three days a month,” she states. “It’s a great place to visit and see museum-quality work.”

If ever in beautiful Cody, the Rendezvous Royale, an annual celebration of the arts held each September, hosts artists from Open Range Gallery including Cat.

For more information on Silver Pine Ranch Photography, visit

Melissa Anderson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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