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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Elk Watching in the Smokies

I mentioned in my last post that one of the drawing points of the Cataloochee area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee was the opportunity to see some historic frame buildings that have been preserved in that valley. But another big draw is the presence of elk.

Elk were released in Cataloochee Valley in 2001, as part of an experimental program to reintroduce elk to the national park. The herd can be seen regularly in the fields of the valley, especially in the early morning and evening hours.
 
Our decision to go to Cataloochee on November 7, was based on a desire to escape the rain in another area of the park. It was afternoon when we reached our destination, and we didn't have very high expectations of seeing any elk. But we saw lots of them, including two bulls who were bugling challenges to each other across two different meadows, separated by a row of trees.

IMG_3176_Elk_in_Cataloochee

IMG_3185_Elk_in_Cataloochee

IMG_3196a_Elk_in_Cataloochee
This female is wearing a radio collar.

IMG_3202_Elk_in_Cataloochee

IMG_3206_Elk_in_Cataloochee

IMG_3211_Elk_Watcher_on_Horseback_in_Cataloochee
Not everyone was viewing from the roadway.

IMG_3214_Elk_Watcher_on_Horseback_in_Cataloochee
I'm not sure how safe this method of viewing is, but it makes a pretty picture.


19 comments:

  1. Absolutely stunning Elk photos with a beautiful backdrop!

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  2. Gorgeous, Linda, love these elk photos! I have seen nature programs where the elk bulls fight and just watching and hearing their antlers clash gives me a headache. LOL! :)

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  3. You and your husband chose a great time to visit the Smokies. The photos of the elk are really wonderful, and I love the paint the man is riding. Have a great Lord's Day.

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  4. i'd be a little afraid to be on horseback with bulls bugling! eek! so beautiful.

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  5. You got some great pictures of the elk. We've been to Cataloochee several times, but have never seen anyone on horseback. That does make a good picture.

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  6. i love the cowboy - beautiful horse. love the coloring. ( :

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  7. Horseback would be great in that area. Sometimes it will allow you to get closer.

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  8. What a magnificent animal. We had hoped to see some in February but it wasn't to be. Maybe next time!

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  9. Wow.. photo opportunities abound for you when you travel. Just beautiful. We had a similar reintroduction of elk into our area from Alberta in 2000 and 2001. They've been successful in repopulating and are no longer considered endangered in this area. The only one I've ever seen though was grazing along with a farmer's herd of cows.. about an hour and a half south of here.

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  10. Great pictures! Could you hear them bugle?

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  11. Great photos, Linda. Makes me want to go back there in the Fall and hear them bugle.... I LOVED it... SO glad you got to see so many beautiful elk... NEAT.

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  12. Beautiful are the photos, Linda!

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  13. Oh, wow, excellent shots of the elk! I saw the cows in Portland, but not the bulls. How awesome that you go to see them in action. The third image from the bottom is awesome. I wonder what the other elks think of the cow wearing the collar? Will she be ostracized from the group? Things like that plague my mind. :)

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  14. I would love to have the opportunity to take photos of real wildlife, like you did here, these are exceptional.

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  15. Great captures, Linda, I love them all! :)
    I wonder how far from - or rather close to - the elks you actually were...

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