Friday, September 30, 2011


Sometimes late in September or early October, DH and I like to 
make the hour and a half trip to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.  

We leave early so we can be on the shore of String Lake before sunrise. 

 As morning light warms the peaks of the mountains 

and works its way down into the canyons we can hear what we’ve come for.  
It is one of the wildest sounds in nature—the call of the Rocky Mountain Elk. 

 photo by Bruce Becker of Outdoor Photographer magazine

At this time of year the big bulls sport a full rack of antlers.  
They are out to prove their strength, gather a harem of lady elk 
and father the next generation to be born in the spring.  
This is truly survival of the fittest.

Dominant bulls stomp through the forest challenging all contenders to a fight.  
The high singing call sounds more like a whistle but it’s called, “bugling.”   

Although bull elk can be bigger than a horse they aren’t much of a threat 
to people as long as we can stay out of their way.

DH and I weren’t alone at the lake.  There are always a few other photographers 
there hoping to get a picture of the big animals.  

One year as we walked along the trail 
a big bull fleeing some photographers ran across our path 
and splashed out into the shallow lake.  
There he proceeded to scream a challenge to other elk in the area. 

 At that time all I had was a film camera with not much of a lens. 
The pictures I took were blurred because of the dim morning light 
and also from the shock of such a close encounter.

This time the only elk we saw were on their way up a distant ridge, 

but in the trees across the lake we could hear the voices of 
at least three bulls.  There may have been more.  
It was hard to tell as the squeals and grunts 
echoed up the mountain sides.  While we listened we could also hear 
the crashing of antlers and breaking branches.

The action happened out of sight in the forest.  
However, the commotion disturbed a bull moose.  

As he wandered off to find a quiet place to get a meal... 

I was able to snap a few photos.

With the coming of daylight the elk bugling subsided 

so DH and I returned to our car and a trip to town for our own breakfast.


Pearl said...

Moose in MN, but no elk (not anymore...)

LOVE your part of the country. It actually chokes me up a little bit, you know? Because for how much I may dispute what PEOPLE do or what a government may do, I absolutely love the land I was born in...

I must be hormonal or something today. :-)


TexWisGirl said...

so wonderful that you get to see and hear all this!

Buttons Thoughts said...

Wow that would be so awesome. Can I come for a visit?:) That view could keep me happy for days and days. All I ever hear is bulls grunting for cows I think it is a little different. B

Leenie said...

Pearl: The grand mountains and forests saved for us tourists to enjoy is one of the things our government really did right. Although the high traffic tends to love those places almost to death at least a little of the splendor is available to anybody who can get there.

TWG: The sounds and sights are always worth the trip.

Buttons: Come by ANY time, but this time of year when the weather is still good or in the spring when there are baby animals everywhere are the best.

Terry and Linda said...

They are transplanting moose here. The poor things wander into towns as they bring them in in February...they are HUNGRY!


Linda Sue said...

I am so glad you shoot with your camera! I took all of this glory for granted when I was growing up there- Now I would be overwhelmed by the wildness and the beauty and the closer to godness of it all! Amazing land!
I used to think that people who had antler decorations all over their garages were tacky- I certainly would like to have antlers now! they are awesome, majestic- And isn't it incredible how high pitched their horniness is? One would expect a deeper voice...Great post Leenie! I am now so homesick I have to go to bed!

CarrieBoo said...

Hi Leenie. :) Those photos are beautiful *drool*, and I love your watercolour paintings. I never really got that technique down. Brilliant stuff.

Debbie said...

wow.....that's just wonderful!! i love finding wildlife, free, in the wild!!

all of your photo's are gorgeous!!

have a wonderful weekend!!

susan m hinckley said...

So cool! Quite a beautiful little life you've carved out for yourself. Some people pay a lot of money for what you have access to all the time, but what I love most is that you know that and soak it all up like a sponge. Then you share it with those less fortunate. Thanks, Leenie!

Sarah said...

Wow! Thank you for taking us on your trip. I loved the little films you linked to. I was expecting a deeper sound but it is really high pitched. Those antlers look so heavy I feel sorry for the elk!

Debby said...

Wow, Leenie. You live in a beautiful place. I also live in a beautiful place, but it is different then your beautiful place. In any case, we have elk here, an isolated herd outside of Benezette, PA, and we went to see them once. It was very exciting. I cannot imagine living amongst elk and moose. It must be wonderful.

CarrieBoo said...

We only just met, but I gave you an award on mi' blog, to do with as you see fit. It's a neat idea so I figured I'd participate for once. :) Anyway, I linked to you from there. Ta ra.

Jeannelle said...

Beautiful and interesting photos and words! Thanks for sharing your trip to the Tetons....that's great you live so close to such wonderful scenery!

Maude Lynn said...

Gorgeous! I would love to be able to see a moose!

Anzu said...

Beautiful season has come.
I'm looking forward to your wonderful pictures fringed with colorful leaves.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful photos - the autumn colours are super.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Only an hour and a half..I would go there too! You got great shots of that Moose. Thanks for sharing your day..I enjoyed it! :)

Jenny Woolf said...

Wow what a place. No wonder you want to go there! it's always particularly nice to go to a place early morning, I think.