Elk of the Rockies with the Sigma 150-600mm Sports

How long have elk been living in the Colorado Rockies? A thousand years? Ten thousand years or maybe longer? With the days heavy winds beginning to abate, I wandered out on a trail and took a step back in time. Armed with radically different gear and intent than our archaic forebears, I crouched in the tall grass and took in the scene. Harems of cow elk were being jealously guarded by the herd bull. Meanwhile, satellite bulls circled the periphery looking for a chance to mate with a cow elk that had wandered from the herd bull’s view. Quickly, the herd bull runs to defend his harem as he lowers his immense rack and readies for battle. Bugling and chuckling emanate from field and forest both near and far and betray their locations. Tapping into ancient life cycles like the elk rut is a wildly enriching experience that nourishes the spirit and connects you to your older self. 

 

A herd bull moves his harem from the meadow back into the forest after a night of grazing. This is a scene as old as the meadow itself. 1/500 sec. f/7.1 ISO 6400 at 600mm.
The elk were wary but not skittish. Regardless, I like to get low to the ground or even hide behind a tree or bush so that I disturb them as little as possible. Here I have even used a bit of the natural world to create a color blur as a foreground element. 1/500 sec. f/8 ISO 1000 at 569mm.
Late afternoon light warms the meadow grasses and the elks coat in great contrast to the cool dark background. His head is back and he begins to bugle while at the same times starts to move from left to right. An image that conveys action and manner will typically be stronger than an animal standing in a field. 1/800 sec. f/8 ISO 1600 at 524mm.
This bull took the time to bugle while still eating! This was taken post sunset but there was still enough light to produce some nice color. 1/500 sec. f/8 ISO 3200 at 558mm.
This bull was by far the most aggressive of any of the bulls I saw this day. He was not even close to the largest but he had the biggest harem. Numerous satellite bulls dogged him as he tried to keep his cows together. 1/400 sec. f/8 ISO 3200 at 569mm.
The broken tine and mud caked coat make this shot for me. I really wanted to get a shot of an elk in full silhouette on a clear sky, but this was as close as I got as the elk seemed reluctant to my direction…I’m just kidding people. 1/500 sec. f/7.1 ISO 5000 at 430mm.
Head low and antlers back means this bull is gathering back a wandering cow and makes a good story telling shot. 1/400 sec. f/7.1 ISO 5000 at 430mm.
The next morning I found the elk bathed in gorgeous early morning light. I kept the sun behind them in order to get that beautiful warm rim lighting. 1/500 sec. f/8 ISO 2000 at 600mm
A few minutes later and the quality of light has changed just a touch. Once again I keep the sun behind them to get the rim lighting. I was also hoping to catch their breath backlit but it was not quite cold enough to see breath. 1/500 sec. f/8 ISO 200 at 600mm.


All Photos captured with the Sigma 150-600mm Sports lens



Learn more about this amazing weather-sealed supertelephoto lens here!
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