After I started following photographer Deborah Scannell and saw her photos of the Elk in the southern Appalachian mountains, I was convinced that I could capture a photo of them, too. Not as nicely done as her, of course, but still I could make an attempt.

A couple of weeks ago, I did just that at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. Pat, Anne, and I hiked nearby Mt. Collins and then dropped back by the Center for a picnic dinner and to view the Elk. We were not disappointed. Last year, we photograph the females at Cataloochee; but this year, my friends begged me not to make them drive the long dirt road to get to that area. It was sort of a “any place but that area” cry! Once I realized Deborah had photographed Elk at Oconaluftee, I knew they would agree to go.

I’m going to print a photo of this young bull simply because he was looking at me! Look at those eyes!!

I continue to love doing these things—outside adventures. This trip was one of my birthdays gifts, and it was perfect. We took photos, talked with the rangers and the people, who were at the Center from all over the country, and drove away feeling warm and satisfied inside. What fun it is to do simple things that cost very little money but have such a great reward. And the picnic dinner was wonderful—fried chicken, wonderful cheeses, olives, crackers, and cold drinks!

These guys were just doing what they do in the evening—come out, be together and put on quite a show for all who gather. Look at his rack! He was so proud of himself, and so safe in the park. These animals are not frightened by humans and can easily be observed grazing in the low-lying fields almost any afternoon throughout the year. In spring and summer you may spot them in the early morning or late afternoon. The website listed above says in the winter the males go up into the mountains and the females and calves stay below in the fields.

The park ranger beside me looked at my photo and said, “Yes, you got a pretty big one!” She should know because she sees these guys everyday.

I did capture a six-pointer. This guy was announcing that he was here and ready to find a girl friend! Pretty perfect. I’ll be back and I’ll keep working on getting better images. Historical accounts say the last Elk in North Carolina was killed in North Carolina in the late 1700’s. They were reintroduced to the area (Cataloochee) in 2001 and 2002. Amazing. Now the herds are growing once again.