There is a reason that anytime you see, read or talk about elk the adjective magnificent has to be in the dialog. They truly are a magnificent animal.
Extinct in Tennessee since 1865, they were reintroduced beginning in December 2000 and they seem to be flourishing in the Smoky Mountains and other wildlife management areas. Elk, and the herd of visitors out to observe them, can often be seen in Great Smoky Mountains National Park near the Oconaluftee Visitors Center and in the Cataloochee Valley in the eastern part of the park.
September begins the rut, a sight and sound to be heard as the bull elk seek to gather and defend their harem. Like the awful scream of a horror movie, the elk bugle or mating call will send a chill up your spine. A strong bugle is intended to call in their mates and warn away male rivals.
If you are willing to get a little mud on the tires, another great option is the Hatfield Knob Viewing Area in the North Cumberland WMA where these images were taken. The rutting season was over and these two continued sparring while the dominate male seemed to be watching their silliness. With the billowing clouds in the background and the blue hour of the late evening, this was a fun time to have my long lens out.
Photographer Chris and painter Robin Rohwer each week share a painting or photograph that captured their interest in hopes that it will also capture yours. They have a small studio and gallery in the Emporium Center in downtown Knoxville where you can stop and see their work. Their website is www.ChristopherRobinArts.com. All works are copyright protected.