Elk can found almost anywhere throughout Montana. We find their tracks and sign in so many strange places.
Tourists can get closer to elk in Yellowstone Park. There is often a herd of friendly elk near the Mammoth Hot Springs visitor center. They troop around without a care in the world. Wolves are more secretive and avoid people so these resident park elk feel safer around the tourists.
Elk hunters spend much of their time looking through their 10×42 power binoculars in search of the Big Bull. While hunting the edges of cliffs and hard to reach places, I have often found elk tracks. When looking for critters, you train yourself to look for a piece of the critter. An ear flick, horizontal lines, or movement are examples of what I am looking for. You rarely see a complete critter at first.
I was very surprised to see a Bull Elk at the edge of a rocky pinnacle. He was standing in a place where I would have been cautious at 11,000 feet and inches away from a long drop.
I wonder what he was doing or thinking? Maybe he was checking out his domain like the Lion King. Perhaps there was a patch of nice sweet grass that looked delicious. Maybe he had a bad day and was ready to jump and end it all. The cows in his harem could have had headaches and other bulls were screaming too loud.
I have seen other elk walking along steep cliffs or climbing rocky scree fields that a mountain goat would find challenging. How do they not hook up their antlers when running through fallen timber? When elk are spooked, they can travel several miles in no time. This Bull even let me take his picture.
I wonder if he was checking me out? Maybe he was just taunting me and daring me walk on the wild side. Whatever the reason, this bull was standing bold and proud atop a mountain in the middle of the day. What a great way to enjoy a beautiful Montana Day!
Be careful out there,
(Article and Photo by Montana Grant)