“Shall I put the telephoto lens on the camera? Or leave the 35mm?” I asked my husband.
He drove our car along a deserted road near the base of Wyoming’s Grand Tetons. Early morning frost blanketed the road and vegetation.
“Why don’t you put on the telephoto? We probably won’t have a chance to photograph anything near by,” he said. “Maybe we can at least capture something in the bushes.”
He steered around a curve of the road while I screwed on the telephoto lens.
A bull elk stepped out of the bushes right in front of us. My hubby braked.
I think we surprised the elk as much as he surprised us.
The animal snorted. A cloud of steamy breath wreathed his neck. He glared at us and lowered his antlers. Did he intend to take on our car? Was he nuts? I heard of bull elk being crazy during the rut.
I raised the camera and tried to focus. “Rats! He’s too close.” Hurriedly I unscrewed the telephoto and fumbled with the 35mm.
The bull stamped his foot. At that moment his harem bounded out of the bushes behind him. Three cows ran across the road and up the steep hillside to our right. They disappeared while I still struggled to exchange lenses. In my hurry I jammed the lens on wrong.
“Give me the camera!” My husband hollered.
“Wait a second! It’s stuck!” Finally I undid the lens and screwed it on correctly.
My hubby grabbed it.
The successful defense of his ladies secured, the bull elk galloped up the hill after the cows.
My husband bounded behind him, slipping and sliding as he went. Dirt and rocks skittered around him. With only two legs, he quickly fell behind the elk. They were nowhere in sight when he disappeared over the crest.
The minutes ticked by. Had he caught up to them?
Ten minutes passed. That huge bull wasn’t afraid of our car. He certainly wouldn’t be afraid of a lone man on foot with only a camera. Had he gored my husband?
When I could take it no longer, I scrambled up six feet of the hill, grabbing bushes to aide my ascent.
Above me, my husband appeared at the top. I slid back down and waited.
He grabbed branches to slow his descent. Dirt made it to the bottom ahead of him.
“What happened?” I asked. “You were gone so long. Did the elk turn on you?”
“No.” His chest rose and fell with each breath. “When I got to the top I couldn’t breathe. My lungs hurt so bad, I had to sit down and wait until I could breathe again.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Did you get a shot of them?”
“Ha! Are you kidding? By the time I reached the top, they were nowhere to be seen.”
So, what’s the moral of this story?
- Don’t take on a bull elk during mating season.
- Don’t follow a bull elk and his harem up a 45º slope at 7,000 feet in frigid temperatures.
- Always have two cameras. One with a telephoto lens and the other with a 35mm.
This story happened before cellphones had such amazing cameras. Now it would be easy to at least get something! Or not.
What photo opportunities have you missed? Tell me about them in the comments below.
Until next time . . . Travel Light,
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