I learned today that the biggest, baddest elk bull of Rocky Mountain National Park was found dead last week. For years he has delighted visitors and photographers with his impressive size and incredible rack.
The last rut season was hard on him as he suffered a pretty serious injury sparring with another bull. He seemed to recuperate, albeit slowly, but did not make it through the winter. We may never know why. It could be perhaps due to that injury, old age (he was estimated to be 12 to 14 years old) or some have speculated predation from a mountain lion.
Certainly, I shot more than my fair share of pics of him over the years, these ones dating to September 27, 2019. I remember with great clarity that particular photo session with him.
I was camped in the Moraine Park Campground and with chilly temperatures and light rain falling that evening, I wasn’t inclined to head out and photograph. Instead, I had just poured my favorite adult beverage expecting to relax and just take it easy when I started hearing extraordinarily loud bugling from over the hill. I couldn’t resist the call.
I donned my rain gear, grabbed my camera and hiked over the hill. There was the big guy, standing guard over his harem and making sure any competitors knew who was in charge. Relatively few humans were there that evening due to the weather which made for a nice, peaceful visit with him.
I walked away happy I had ventured out and now, even more, cherish that time with him. He will live on not only in pictures and memories but also through a long, proud blood line.
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