The Elusive Elk

Bull Elk Grand Teton National Park - Packy Savvenas

I find it amazing in Yellowstone Country that I have not come face-to-face with the popular elk of this area. You see elk almost everywhere you go here within the protected environments like the National Elk Refuge.

Now I’ve seen cow elk, which are your female elk, in a field away from the males. The males, however, have been hidden away from me all winter long. I’ve known exactly where they were at, but every time I tried to get close they made it unattainable to get a photo of them. If I attempted to approach them with a camera they would normally lie down or make it even harder to get a picture in. This has been a Yellowstone reindeer game of sorts that the elk of this area have been playing on me all season long.

Fast forward to today. I started to set up my gear as I was getting ready for the day. I was standing in a field in the Grand Tetons as I was searching for which lens I was going to use. I decided to go with my 100 by 400 by Canon which is my favorite go-to lens for Yellowstone Country.

I snapped my lens on and stepped out of my car when all of a sudden, out of the middle of nowhere, this mystical bull elk appeared. As I stood awestruck, like a kid that just saw a magical creature for the first time, the elk started to approach me . This was probably one of the most surprising moments I’ve had in quite a while, within the past four months.

Besides the fact that I’ve been up close and personal with some of the biggest bull moose I’ve ever encountered in Yellowstone, the unexpected presence of this big bull elk was astonishing.

The bull elk was still a good 250 yards off and a little bit down hill. It was a complete whiteout; which is probably one of my favorite ways to photograph animals in the winter.

This was an older male as I could tell by the coat. He kept walking towards me without hesitation as if he knew this was a meaningful encounter that was meant to be. The bull elk kept getting closer by the minute while I kept snapping my camera and taking as many shots as I could.

I wanted to take full advantage of this opportunity. After all, I’ve been trying to get a good elk picture for at least four months. Like I said, for some reason these mysterious elk eluded me and have made it almost impossible for me to get a good photo in.

I know that elk are everywhere and that usually they’re easy to get a photograph of. For some reason though, they have done everything in their power to stay out of my way this year while allowing me to focus in on the other pictures that I have gotten.

Trust me, I’m not complaining. I know photographing an elk is like photographing any other famous landmark, but like I said what is odd about this year is that they have eluded me continuously. Well, that is, until now.

I feel as though I have earned my right to photograph them. This bull elk was like the elder of the herd that welcomed me in. This mysterious presence let me know that I am welcomed in their community and they were happy to have their picture taken. Every creature of this land has a story to tell; each one completely unique to any other. I take this as another adventure in the photographing day of the Greek Mountain Man.

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