You haven't truly experienced the elk rut until you have witnessed the sights and sounds erupting all around you and you have no place to run and no place to hide. It literally involves and encompasses all your emotions and all your senses. You can see it unfold before your eyes, you hear the sounds as the challenges are wagered and met, you smell the wild all around you and there is nothing that compares to it. As it unfolds you feel the hair stand up on the back of your neck and the goosebumps are not from the brisk morning but more so from the scene before your very eyes. This particular morning I shared the experience with two photographer friends Dave Anderson and Glenn from the Pittsburgh area.
We had set up on the fringe of a backwoods meadow which was shrouded by an early morning fog. When we began setting up the meadow was nearly silent and the heavy fog was causing us to second guess our wisdom as to staging here. I had been following the habits of these critters during the 2011 rut and felt confident with our location. Before long the meadow literally began to erupt with activity. The fog had lifted slightly and would certainly hamper any hopes of tack sharp images but it did create some mystic mood that can either be loved or hated. In my case, it depends which day I look at the pictures. These images pop up on my screen saver now and then and while some days they make me cringe there are other times that I really kinda' like them. It was one of these days that caused me to make this Blog entry.
One of these images show the ultimate fighter Ear Hook. This particular morning there was a small framed bull infringing on his harem. Ear Hook didn't like this and one short charge proved his dominance and the challenger took flight. Ear Hook had proved his strength on many occasions during the rut and had a collection of ladies to show for it. Although there was no real battle in the meadow this day, we could hear the fierce bugling literally all around us. It's difficult to explain what we witnessed in this foggy meadow on that early morning. The mist made the scenes surreal and life almost seemed to be moving in slow motion. It was a morning with friends I won't soon forget. And to make it even better, we weren't charged, gored or trampled. Ahhh yes, a good day indeed!
Two cows chatting while another samples the nearby treats.
And this is my first sighting of Dave and Glenn in the pea soup. They were there the whole time but the fog was so heavy I couldn't see them.
Once again, allow me to introduce Ear Hook. He's now grazing in the big meadow in the sky or wherever critters go when their spirit ceases to exist.
photo courtesy of David Anderson
Dave took this picture of me in a rather precarious position. Sometimes you find yourself in a bad position when the fog lifts. This morning Ear Hook decided to be kind and slowly walk away. GULP!!!