Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 39
Top Left: This young buck is still in velvet. He will have his
opportunity to challenge for the herd in a couple years.
Left : A bull elk guides a doe and calf off the grazing field
in golden mist as sun breaks over the mountain in the
Lower left: A chance encounter provided this portrait of a
bull elk, as he emerged from a Cataloochee Creek bank. The
momentary look in the photographer's direction is a rare
Lower right: This prancing calf was photographed at the
end of June. Part of the joy of interacting with this community of wildlife is the opportunity to witness their cycle
From Joe Yarkovich, Wildlife Biologist at Great
Smoky Mountains National Park:
* Bring binoculars and zoom lenses. This allows for great viewing and photos from a safe
* Stay in or near your vehicle when the elk are
out, and please pull off the road where it is safe
to do so to allow traffic to continue around you.
* Be patient! This allows everyone to have a
better experience of the Smoky Mountains, at
a Smoky Mountain pace!"
The use of spotlights, elk bugles, and other
wildlife calls are illegal in the national park. It
is also illegal to remove elk antlers or other elk
parts from the park. Never feed elk or other
wildlife or bait them in for closer observation.
Feeding park wildlife is strictly forbidden by
law and almost always leads to the animal's
demise. It also increases danger to other park
visitors. Every year park animals must be destroyed because of mistakes humans make.
If using an SLR camera, a telephoto lens can
help to capture activity in the distance. If planning to be there in early morning, you'll need a
tripod as available light may be too low to hold
The elk often wander around and across the
road within range of a point-and-shoot camera.
However, the best time to see the elk is early
morning or late afternoon. There are also fewer
people in the morning and, if lucky with the
weather, you can have mist which really helps
create a great atmosphere for photography.
September/October 2017 39