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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Wintertime - Sunrises and Elk

Although I adore summer and hate to see it end, there are some things about winter that I love too. One, as you know, is the low angle of the sunlight which makes photography all the more fun.

The other is that the elk come down from their summer home in the high mountains, and we can see them in the meadows all around our area.

This year, we saw a big bull who still has a harem who he seems to be keeping near him. The bull elk's testosterone must still be running high because he lets loose with ear-piercing bugles that can be heard from far away. You can hear an elk bugle in this short video.

The big bull who we watched is allowing a few younger bulls to stay near his harem. These are both younger and smaller bulls than the boss. Here were two of them, lingering off to the side of the harem.

They seem to be practicing for when they might have their own harems to defend. They spar which makes loud sounds as their antlers bang together.

After short bouts of sparring, the two walk away like good buddies who were just fooling around. There are obviously no hard feelings between them.

In fact, they are a team in one way. They both are trying to fly below the radar of the big bull, who occasionally walked over their way, looking as if he was reminding them of who was the boss.

After finding this herd, we watched them for quite a while. The sun eventually dipped below the Continental Divide as nighttime approached. The big bull's bugling became more frequent as the light dimmed. It was cold out, so he puffed a cloud of steam with each bugle.

I thought it looked amazing, especially combined with the sound of his bugle.

He acted as if some members of his harem might still be fertile, as he checked their hindquarters regularly.

As it got dark, we became cold so it was time to go.

I really hope that this big bull stays safe through the hunting seasons.
A big difference between natural predators like mountain lions and human hunters is that natural predators take down the weakest members of the herd. Human hunters go for the biggest and strongest herd members, like the bull in these photos. Thus, it seems to me like natural predators make the herd stronger while human hunters make the herd weaker.

So, although the black bear presence in our forest is rapidly dwindling as they go into dens, Shyla and I see and hear evidence of elk in our forests almost every day now. I'm so glad that Shyla was easily trained not to chase elk when we first met.
Shyla does an almost automatic recall when we see a group of elk. She knows that she will get a huge reward from me if she comes to my side when we see elk. It's a great deal for both of us!


  1. Wow, what great Elk photos! I imagine you're using a good telephoto lens - I was wondering how far away you need to be to keep the bull from minding visitors :-)

  2. Elk are so neat! I love watching them!

  3. This is what we can only dream of, and you sharing the Elf with us is so special.Shyla, well done with training too.

  4. gussie says we must be his harem cos sometimes hers and I fight like those elk just shakes her head, those pictures are very beautiful.
    we love the light in them.
    stella rose

  5. What a beautiful sight! I love seeing Shyla all glowing from the sun.

    Anne and Ziggy

  6. Such beautiful elk! Hello pretty Shyla!

  7. These.are.amazing!! It is good Shyla doesn't chase them for sure. I am afraid Cocoa would try to engage them in play :)

  8. I love the elk against the dark shadow! And I love Shyla!!

  9. That bugle is so much more high-pitched than we expected - very shrill!!! Good girl, Shyla, and great job on the training from you.

  10. Total pawsome- all those photos KB!!

  11. Beautiful Elk shots, I also just love the light this tie of year, especially on Shyla!!!

  12. How amazing! and even more amazing how you have trained Shyla to come to you when the elk are around
    Mr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

  13. That is fascinating. Praying they make it through the hunting season

  14. Just gorgeous! I love your thoughts on hunting

  15. Good training. I can imagine the terriers just taking off and forgetting any training they may have had.

  16. You are such a good girl, Shyla! The elk are just beautiful!

  17. Oh you are right, I never saw it that way... but it makes absolutely sense what you said about the different hunters...

  18. Those are great shots of the elk. And I completely agree on the backwards way that humans hunt. I think that in the future all the deer, elk, and whatever else gets hunted, will be smaller because it's the little guys that get to do all the breading.

  19. those antlers are so big.
    Lily & Edward

  20. Wow, what a thing to see! And that's such an interesting point about the difference between human and natural hunters. Shyla's coat looks amazing in those pics. Great that she knows not to chase the herd!

  21. So much to 'wow' about. I let out a gasping "Wow!" out loud when I saw the photo with the big bull elk's bugling captured visually. I am wowed by how many different animals you capture with your camera. And I am definitely wowed that Shyla has been conditioned to go to you when she sees the elk, without a command from you! Amazing!


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