I have always liked animals, domestic or wild.  So I am always happy to see animals when I have my camera.
While we were in Tennessee, we did see some deer, turkeys & bears but the best day was the day we drove  over the mountains to North Carolina to the Cataloochee Valley area of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park and spent some time with a couple of herds of elk! They were relatively close to the road and even with the forest rangers there keeping us at a “safe” distance, these elk are obviously habituated to people, so we were pretty darn close.  Using my 200-400mm lens brought them even closer!

We spent several hours between the two herds that were along the main road.   There were some yearlings and one female was calling that strange elk call for several minutes. She was looking for someone!

Young female

There were a couple bulls interacting with their cows (yes, elk are bulls & cows) which gave me an opportunity to capture some behavior.   As a student of animal behavior (my post graduate work many years ago), I am always looking for something more than a static portrait of an animal. 

Bull & 2 cows

 The bulls were keeping me busy for most of the time we were there!   Elk have a very different call and this bull was calling his cows!   Many of the elk were radio collared.  Not great for photographs but to me this is important part of their behavior study as these collars help the rangers and scientists keep track of their movements.

Bull with radio collar

Another bull with a huge antler rack was giving us all a show! Digging up the grass with his antlers!

Bull digging up grass with antlers.

Bull was then testing the air for the correct scent of his cows.

Bull getting the scent of his females

Even the static pose of this guy looking back at me was too much to miss!

Magnificent Antlers!

If you get a chance to visit this area I would highly recommend it!   And any time you see wildlife, please be respectful.  If they move away from you, do not move closer. Do not interfere with behaviors as much of it is related to breeding, feeding & safety.  But from that safe distance, wait & watch, you will be rewarded! 

That is all for now! 


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