Why the Elk?

In the winter of 2015, my passion for photographing the elk began on a frosty morning in Cataloochee Valley, Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  At this point I knew nothing about the elk and its behavior.  I arrived on that cold day to find the fields loaded with cow elks who had herded up for the winter.  With my classic Canon 7D in hand I began to photograph them.  I remember thinking how tame they seemed and how much they acted like cattle when compared with their cousins the white-tailed deer.

Later that morning, I photographed a bull elk as it moved through the valley.  I remember being so excited to be close to a wild bull elk and to watch his behavior.  Of course, by this time, the rut had been over for months, so there was no fighting for dominance or bugling.  It was still enough to hook me.  From that time I have travelled to Cataloochee every September to photograph the rocky mountain elk right here in North Carolina.  I won't go into detail on how Rocky Mountain elk came to be in North Carolina, and how our original elk in the east went extinct.  I have written about that in several other blog entries.

It is such a joy for me to follow the elk and actually seem them grow from year to year.  I have watched young bulls rise to complete dominance over other bulls.  I have seen bulls charge other bulls.  I have seen antlers broken and wounds appear on their large bodies from the fight.  But there are also those tender moments of a cow feeding her young calf or a calf frolicking across the field.  I look forward to many more years of photographing these amazing creatures that God has given us.