Montana Outdoors

April 1, 2008

Elk and buttercups

Filed under: Elk, Environment, Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Photography, Photos, Pictures, Wildflowers — Tags: , — montucky @ 10:29 am

During a short trip into one of my favorite areas just a couple of days ago I had an experience that would be a thrill for anyone who loves wildlife.

A couple of miles from the road as I approached a high ridge, slightly to my right I saw four white-tail deer. As I watched them, a movement directly in front of me caught my attention and directed my eyes to a half dozen mule deer. And, as I was looking at them, I glanced at a patch of tan above them on the steep hillside and discovered a group of six elk grazing along there. It’s not often that one can see all three species together and be able to watch them all without taking a step!

A rather fumbling attempt to stalk into camera range of the elk was successful only in spooking the mulies who in turn spooked the elk, and so I came away with no photos of them. I’ll substitute this one taken while hunting in the area last October instead. It’s a hunter’s eye view.


After effectively spooking all the game in the area I continued up to the top of the ridge where, despite my bumbling, I was able to stalk within camera range of some buttercups, and had to chuckle because I noticed that earlier in the spring they had been fertilized by the elk. An interesting example of the benefits of natural biodiversity.

Buttercups and elk


  1. I’ve never tried to stalk a buttercup, though I’ve had some success with snails, grasshoppers and once a skunk.

    Too bad you couldn’t get a shot of those three deer species together. You might get the chance again, though.


    Comment by wolf — April 1, 2008 @ 11:05 am

  2. Fortunately, buttercups are difficult to spook. 😀

    Gorgeous as always!

    (And thanks for identifying the mysterious pecan-sized scat that I spotted when I was in the Tetons last summer. I didn’t have any luck figuring it out on my own.)


    Comment by Sara — April 1, 2008 @ 1:17 pm

  3. Wolf,

    Yes, it would be a great shot if I could get all three in one frame! By the way, stalking into close range of a skunk is not usually called “success”!


    Comment by montucky — April 1, 2008 @ 2:25 pm

  4. Sara,

    Yep, buttercups are pretty easy going critters. I didn’t seem to be up to anything more difficult at the time.

    If that scat in the Tetons was as large as pecans, it might have been moose droppings which are the next size up from elk and are usually more egg-shaped.


    Comment by montucky — April 1, 2008 @ 2:33 pm

  5. Sara, I can send pictures of moose droppings if you feel you might need further identification – more than montucky’s expert description.

    Heck – I can send you some of the actual thing if you like. I’ve got lots in my yard.


    Comment by wolf — April 1, 2008 @ 3:06 pm

  6. That certainly would have been a great shot of all the deer and elk in one place. But that’s okay, I still enjoy the buttercup pictures. 🙂


    Comment by AK_Adventurer — April 1, 2008 @ 5:41 pm

  7. Shouldn’t be too long now before you start getting the wildflowers, should it? Also almost time to be able to hike on bare ground!


    Comment by montucky — April 1, 2008 @ 6:04 pm

  8. I continue to be awed by your photos and your weblog.
    Keep on blogging!!!!!!


    Comment by twoscamps — April 1, 2008 @ 7:10 pm

  9. Thank you, Twoscamps! I appreciate your visit and comment!


    Comment by montucky — April 1, 2008 @ 7:27 pm

  10. One question, Montucky, did the elk get a shot of you before they left?

    I am sure it was an exquisite moment!


    Comment by errolllevant — April 1, 2008 @ 11:32 pm

  11. Only in nature can poo come out looking so pretty. 🙂 I laughed at your story (boy, can I relate….) Funny …in my case it always seems to happen when I left the camera in the jeep.


    Comment by aullori — April 2, 2008 @ 12:20 am

  12. This will go as one of the most unusual wildflower shots of the season. Thanks to the elk who contributed to the lovely buttercup.


    Comment by Bo — April 2, 2008 @ 6:28 am

  13. errolllevant,

    Yes, they did. I don’t know if they had a camera going, but they gave me a great deal of scrutiny before they exited stage right.


    Comment by montucky — April 2, 2008 @ 9:43 am

  14. Lori,

    I’ve had that happen too. Wild critters have a sense of timing and they know exactly when you’re unprepared. You can’t have the camera hanging around your neck all the time though, so you’re always vulnerable.


    Comment by montucky — April 2, 2008 @ 9:46 am

  15. Bo,

    You’re right. I can’t remember taking a photo before of nature’s flower garden while she was fertilizing it! It’s part of the process though. Of course, as a hunter I’m pretty well tuned in to the traces the animals leave and who left what where.


    Comment by montucky — April 2, 2008 @ 9:49 am

  16. THAT is something I’ve never seen!


    Comment by silken — April 2, 2008 @ 3:37 pm

  17. Just part of the Montana outdoors, Silken. To a hunter that’s an important sign to know about. I don’t even know if there are any elk in Texas.


    Comment by montucky — April 2, 2008 @ 6:30 pm

  18. There are some Elks in Texas. In most towns they have meeting places where they gather to drink and tell tall tales!


    Comment by errolllevant — April 2, 2008 @ 8:15 pm

  19. Ah yes, but do you let them fertilize buttercups?


    Comment by montucky — April 2, 2008 @ 10:35 pm

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