Montana Outdoors

March 14, 2010

A search for a trail, surprise #2

Friday’s search for the beginning of an old trail was successful, but equally satisfying was a surprise at the beginning of the descent, when we walked right into this herd of elk, who had been snoozing just over a rise from where we made our ascent. After all of the time spent last fall hunting for them…

Elk

(See if you can find all thirty in the following photo.)

Elk

I especially like the two last summer’s calves at the left side who seem to be discussing the situation.

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34 Comments »

  1. I’ve seen an elk or two, but never a herd in the wild. What a thrilling sight!

    Like

    Comment by Bo Mackison — March 14, 2010 @ 11:29 am

    • They are quite a sight. When we first saw them they were only about 20 yards away. We had been smelling them for awhile before that.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — March 14, 2010 @ 11:46 am

  2. Wow! Nice herd of cows. Not a buck amongst them, from what I can see. I can imagine what a thrill this must have been. You haven’t spooked them yet. Nice that they hung around for their portraits! lol Great find and good job bringing them to us. Neat!

    Like

    Comment by Iona — March 14, 2010 @ 12:46 pm

    • It’s always a thrill to get in close to elk and for the last few years that hasn’t happened very often. There are actually two young bulls in there and I’m not sure if the big guys haven shed their antlers yet or not. We also ran into two groups of mule deer. Last fall there were two large bighorn rams in about the same spot. This is inside the Patrick’s Knob roadless area, and there are lots of wildlife there.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — March 14, 2010 @ 6:48 pm

  3. What a pleasant surprise for you and a startled surprise for the elk. What a sight to behold!

    Like

    Comment by Anna Surface — March 14, 2010 @ 2:49 pm

    • Yes, it was a surprise for all of us. What a place for them! Good grass, a sunny hillside and a small stream just a few yards away. They have probably been hanging around there for months.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — March 14, 2010 @ 6:52 pm

  4. Wow, jackpot! That is soooo cool, I would love to see something like that. Great score.

    Like

    Comment by Candace — March 14, 2010 @ 7:57 pm

    • It was a treat. For many years I spent time with the elk in the northern part of Arizona, especially along Gentry Canyon, north of Woods Canyon Lake and also in the Chevelon Canyon area. There were many more there than I’ve found here and I have great memories of seeing around 150 in a day there.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — March 14, 2010 @ 8:40 pm

  5. Lovely – and exciting. How awesome to see animals like that in their own habitat. Thanks for the supportive comments Terry! They are much appreciated!

    Like

    Comment by Stacey Dawn — March 14, 2010 @ 10:39 pm

    • “Awesome” is a good word for it Stacey. It’s so good to know that it’s still possible to have an encounter like that.

      I do appreciate what you think and what you do, Stacey.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — March 14, 2010 @ 11:20 pm

  6. I have never seen in my life so much elks than You showed here.

    Your photos are very interesting to get info from a “far away land”.

    Few times I have made nearly car collition with a elk.

    Like

    Comment by sartenada — March 15, 2010 @ 4:09 am

    • It is not really rare here to see elk herds this size. Elk do sometimes get hit on the highways but not as often as deer, and sometimes someone will even run into a moose. Many people die because they try to avoid striking these animals and go off the road. I have trained all of my family to avoid that. Two summers ago I even hit a deer while riding a motorcycle. It killed the deer, but I was not injured; didn’t even put the bike down because I knew what to do ahead of the time I needed to.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — March 15, 2010 @ 9:05 pm

  7. Wow!…. what more can I say? I would have loved to have seen them!

    Like

    Comment by Cedar — March 15, 2010 @ 8:34 am

    • Anyone who loves the outdoors has to love elk, Cedar! I’ve never lost the thrill of getting close to them.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — March 15, 2010 @ 9:06 pm

  8. I don’t think I’ve ever been lucky enough to see a herd. Usually, it’s one here, another one there.

    Malcolm

    Like

    Comment by knightofswords — March 15, 2010 @ 9:26 am

    • We just walked right into this herd. There was more terrain relief in the area then we realized and that enabled us to get close before they sensed us.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — March 15, 2010 @ 9:07 pm

  9. Nice capture! That must have been so awesome to see!

    Like

    Comment by victry1 — March 15, 2010 @ 2:13 pm

    • It was awesome. I’ve been close to them many times and I always love it!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — March 15, 2010 @ 9:11 pm

  10. That is just the kind of surprise a person likes. You got good shots, too. I can’t say I always do, when I am taken by surprise.

    Like

    Comment by Sandy — March 15, 2010 @ 4:04 pm

    • I’m not always very quick with the shutter because it takes time to get my camera out. It always hangs from the left shoulder strap of my pack, but I have to unzip the case and it takes a few seconds to do that. In this case, there was a three minute time elapse too between the first and second photo because I had to take the pack off, dig out the telephoto lens and change lenses. Just something that has to be when back country hiking.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — March 15, 2010 @ 9:15 pm

  11. Charlie Russell would have made such a painting if he saw your photos! Great capture!

    Like

    Comment by Maureen — March 15, 2010 @ 7:56 pm

    • I think he would have, Maureen! He would have loved to have been there for sure.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — March 15, 2010 @ 9:17 pm

  12. A couple of nice surprises!

    Now, do I count the legs and divide by four?

    Like

    Comment by Pinhole — March 15, 2010 @ 8:48 pm

    • If you are that energetic, Pinhole. To avoid getting into higher math, I just count the ears and divide by two.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — March 15, 2010 @ 8:57 pm

  13. These are gorgeous pictures. The light in them is just amazing.

    Like

    Comment by Jessica S. — March 15, 2010 @ 9:49 pm

    • Thanks! Yes, the light was good. There had been bright sun earlier in the day but when we encountered the elk light clouds had come over and made conditions good.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — March 15, 2010 @ 11:08 pm

  14. OK…OK…its time you organized a tour.

    Like

    Comment by burstmode — March 16, 2010 @ 5:20 am

    • I truly wish I could do that. Some folks would fall in love with our back country, others maybe not so much.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — March 16, 2010 @ 8:51 am

  15. what a beautiful site!!

    Like

    Comment by kcjewel — March 17, 2010 @ 8:05 pm

    • It is that, Jewel. When I see elk and mule deer I know I’m doing something right, and we also ran into two groups of mulies near there.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — March 17, 2010 @ 9:43 pm

  16. what a great surprise!

    Like

    Comment by silken — March 18, 2010 @ 7:48 pm

  17. What a find. Maybe not for you, but wow.. All I ever see is deer, Elk appear quite a bit bigger.

    Like

    Comment by Preston — March 21, 2010 @ 11:23 am

    • Elk are pretty big. Their weight will range from 600 lbs for small cows to 1,000 lbs for big bulls. By comparison, Mule deer will range from 150 lbs to 350 lbs and Whitetails from 120 lbs to 230 lbs. It’s an entirely different situation packing out an elk or a deer.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — March 21, 2010 @ 12:10 pm


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