I have been camping out a lot lately "forest bathing" (read Four-Fifths a Grizzly) and enjoying the fall color and beauty of Grand Teton National Park. Bears almost always snag my time and attention, and that definitely happened a lot on this recent trip. I have some great images of bears, including the Queen herself. But, those will come later. What I said, both in my head and out loud, was that I would focus on moose and elk. So, I spent a lot of early mornings standing in the dark, cold quiet, waiting for the "perfect" moment to catch an elk crossing. The problem, of course, is there is no guarantee as to where they will cross, if they will cross, and if they do cross, will there be enough early light to photograph. In my mind's eye I have a couple of spots where the image would be stunning. I managed to catch a few crossings in the past month. I'm not sure any of them match the incredible images that reside in my mind. However, I have a few that are decent. I am sharing one here. During the rut season, bull elk gather cows that form harems. They all stick together in a group. Where the girls go, the bull follows. They have different areas where they breed, where they rest, and where they forage. They move in a cyclic rhythm through each space day to day. The river crossing is often part of the path. In the early morning, the bulls communicate with others through bugling, chasing satellite bulls away, and sometimes full on fighting. There is not a more amazing sound in nature than the eerie, throaty-turned-whistle elk bugle. All my cold mornings standing by the river were serenaded by bulls, communicating in the dark, locked into the ritual of the annual rut.
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