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Elk of the Rocky Mountains
Cow Elk up close during snow fall
Tips for Observing Elk in the Wild

Viewers can enjoy seeing Elk peacefully for both parties and should take note of important aspects which will increase your pleasure as well as benefit the Elk themselves.

Young Spike Bull Elk with deformed antler.


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  • Elk like most wildlife, will stress over fast moving actions. When observing elk, walk slow, make all motions slower than usual. Keep your voice levels low.
  • Elk will perceive you as a threat if you are above them in elevation. Therefore it is best to observe elk from a position lower than they are.
  • Elk are not stupid animals. Do not attempt to hide yourself behind bushes or rocks. This will only cause stress to the Elk which might perceive you as some sort of threat. You may even appear foolish to them as well. They have great awareness. Their vision, smell, hearing,and intuition are all tuned for their survival and will not be easily fooled by a human stalking them without their knowledge.
  • Elk and automobiles do not mix well. Try to avoid driving fast near Elk. You may find them grazing at the very edge of the roadway foraging for their food, they may step out into traffic lanes at any time. Beware so that you can avoid collision with these fine animals. Damage to your vehicle can be extreme if not in fact lethal for both you and the elk. Avoid slamming doors, honking horns, shouting, barking dogs, etc. If you see elk along the road it is best to slow down and drive by them safely. Flashing your headlights can warn oncoming traffic that wildlife is in the area. This will all benefit the elk's safety as well as oncoming traffic.
  • If you remain quiet and respectful to the Elk, they will allow you to approach quite closely at times. This will allow you the best opportunities for photography. If the elk feel comfortable, they may take up resting in the fields right in front of you. Times like these become cherished memories... and worth taking the extra time for.
  • When photographing any wildlife, never use a flash. Wildlife have eyes that are very sensitive to their environment and survival. Camera flash can be very startling to them and may even cause them harm.
  • Always use a zoom lens to get those closer images when photographing wildlife.. Approaching too close will stress the animals and may cause them to walk away or run off. This can create many risk factors for them and even yourself. Perhaps this may also disturb others as well who are also trying to photographs the same wildlife.
Remember... being kind to wildlife has many mutual benefits... Enjoy the beauty which nature has provided for us to enjoy... While trying to make the least impact with your presence as possible...

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