These elk appear to be having a relaxing morning! I saw them grazing on the mountain
grass near the edge of the dense pine forest. For some reason they saw me but did not retreat into the safety of the trees, but slowly walked along the edge of the wilderness while I snapped away using my big 400mm Canon lens. Usually they disappear like ghosts into the forest the moment they spot me. This was my favorite one with the rugged snow capped Sangre de Cristo mountain range in the background 🙂
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As I pulled the old Dodge into the trailhead parking this morning I thought I could see movement in the predawn light so I parked a little sideways to get a better look. Sure enough, there was an elk herd grazing and moseying up the mountainside from where
ever they were bedded down last night. Rather than charging up the hill with Big Dog like I usually do I got the camera ready and lingered a bit, hoping for the sun to crest the ridge to the east so I could have better light for a shot of the magnificent beasts.
Patience paid off as the sun finally did poke through bathing the mountain top in a beautiful warm morning glow. By then the animals had noticed me and were moving up the mountain into the light and I was able to capture this nice image of the mini migration. Lol, except for this young fellow below who had apparently found something else to do rather than pay attention to what the adults were doing. By this time he had noticed and was scrambling to catch up 🙂
I was hoping that as we rounded the hillside on the trail that we would get a chance to see them again in the high meadow, but by the time we arrived up there the elk were all gone. Vanished like ghosts into the dense wilderness to the south. Got a few more images of this herd that I will probably try to work on later… unless of course I just decide to go shooting again!
It was a beautiful morning for a hike although my arrival at the trailhead was a bit behind schedule, greatly diminishing my chances of a successful wildlife sighting and with the smoke from the summer fires my chances of photographing the distant mountains were just about zero. Undaunted, I slung my camera over my shoulder anyway. As I climbed the steep grade to the top of the ridge my eyes scanned the forest edge for any sign of wildlife. Before I started my trek I had set my camera to ISO 400 in preparation for wildlife photography, so with nothing in sight and not much hope of any shooting I just left the settings as they were.
Over the top of the mini mountain I strode along, settling for a good day of exercise in the solitude of the Rocky Mountain wilderness when all of a sudden Big Dog went on alert and pointed me to the direction of interest. It was the most amazing thing, a huge herd of elk streaming up the mountainside towards the dense pine forest near the summit. I quickly brought up my camera, zoomed my 200mm lens all the way in and
started shooting. The elk kept coming and coming, over the ridge and into the forest… there were at least a couple of hundred of them all together. Finally once they were past I quickly made my way across the mountainside to where they went in, hoping to find a few of them still lingering so that I could get a closer shot. Amazingly within just that quick minute that it took me to get there, like a herd of ghosts they were just gone. I could not believe that so many of these huge beasts could so quickly and silently pass by and disappear… like they were never there.
I ventured a bit further into the dense pine forest hoping to catch one of the magnificent animals departing when I spotted this straggler that had stopped to feed on a pine branch. I was only able to snap off a couple of shots before she noticed me and the Big Dog and quickly scampered to the safety of the large herd. The whole scene unfolded in a matter of minutes and I feel so fortunate to have been at just the right place at just the right time to witness such magnificence. And I would not have noticed them at all were it not for Big Dog’s ever vigilant nose and super powered ears. Sometimes I get to thinking he’s a pain to have along when shooting wildlife, until I have a moment like this and am reminded of how many images I would have missed without his extraordinary senses.
These images and more are available on my website as wall art on glossy acrylic and metal sheets, traditional matted frames, wrapped canvas and a huge selection of very cool gift items and handy household gadgets including phone cases, yoga mats, greeting cards and more!