Well, this is it. I’m finally posting the last of my photos from this years trip out west. These are all from Grand Teton National Park.
Gros Ventre area of Grand Teton National Park
You may remember from an earlier post that I forgot to pack my tripod. The first thing I did after putting my tent up was to go to the Visitor Center in Jackson Hole to find where the best camera store might be. I needed to rent a tripod. While there, I talked for quite a while with a gentleman who was a guide in the area. I told him I was mainly interested in photographing moose and wanted to be sure I was going to the right areas to find them. He told me about a local artist named Mike Jackson. He said that Mike follows the moose and knows them so well that he even names them. I thought that it was very cool but I didn’t give it much thought at the time. I was more interested in where I might be able to rent a tripod and to ensure that I was going to the right areas to find moose.
Well, I found the camera store but they didn’t rent tripods so I was out of luck. I would just have to rely on my hand-holding technique. No problem … Right! …. My camera rig with my big lens weighs about 12 pounds. I was not a happy camper!
Later, just before sunset, I went to the Gros Ventre area where I had seen moose last year. I didn’t see any but did see this guy with his harem which was quite large.
Pronghorn Buck with his calves
He had to be a very dominate buck because he had a very large harem with quite a few calves. I saw them each day that I was in the park.
The next morning I went back before the sun was up. It was pretty dark and I thought I could see moose antlers. However, there was not enough light yet to get decent photos.
Early Morning at Gros Ventre
After waiting for the sun to come up, the moose got up too. Below is one of my first photos of the moose that I saw laying down in the dark.
Big, I mean “Really Big” Bull Moose!
Just then, another photographer showed up and started to take pictures. He had the same camera gear as I. Except, he had a tripod. He told me that the moose we were photographing was Elvis. He had named him that because of the way the moose’s antlers resembled a crown and that he was the largest of the 5 bull moose in this area. So, he was the King! I suddenly realized that this must be Mike Jackson. The person I had heard about at the Visitor Center.
I introduced myself and told him how I stupidly forgot to pack my tripod. He told me to wait a minute. He went back to his car and brought back a tripod for me to use. What a truly nice man! From that point on, we spent time together in the very early morning and evenings photographing Elvis. Mike kind of took me under his wing. He showed me where he had photographed other moose in the area and passed along a few safety tips as well. I would not have gotten the following shots without Mike’s generosity and help.
Elvis the next day
As you can see, Elvis was in the process of scraping off the velvet on his antlers. We watched as he actually got himself tangled in some willow branches as he was rubbing it off. He was quite mad and spun around trying to get free. It was very cool to see! I wish I had remembered that I now have a video option on my camera! Oh well, next time!
Elvis’s girl friend? Perhaps Priscilla?
This female was close by. I saw her two days in a row while Elvis was in the area.
Of course, there are other animals that can be seen here as well. This beaver just stayed around doing nothing for quite a while. My guess is that he wanted his picture taken too.
Not a very busy beaver!
I couldn’t be in Jackson Hole without visiting to the Teton Rapture Center in Wilson. It’s just a few miles west of Jackson Hole and it takes just a few minutes to get there. Jason Jones the Program Director of the center is also a Master Falconer. His rapture program is great but I think the highlight is the flying demonstration he puts on with one of his falcons and a hawk. Below are photos of his Harris Hawk in flight.
Harris Hawk high above us!
Jason uses a target for which the birds retrieve food. Below, you’ll see the hawk coming in for his treat.
Words don’t describe how very cool this is!
If you’re ever in Jackson Hole, be sure to visit them. It’s well worth the time. In the mean time, visit them at their website: www.tetonraptorcenter.org You’ll not be disappointed.
You’ll see plenty of these in the area as well. After all, The National Elk Refuge is just north of Jackson Hole. This bull had a pretty large harem. They were just about a mile from where I was camped.
Bull Elk guarding his harem
It was very cool to hear them bulging in the evening!
Thursday evening was going to be my last at Teton. Mike asked if I’d be coming out to photograph in the morning before heading back home. I said that I didn’t think so because I wanted to be on my way before sunup. He suggested that I come out one last time. After all, what’s one more hour to the trip and we might just get a great opportunity. An hour was about all the time we could shoot because the sun would be directly in our eyes so the light would no longer be good. I told him that I’d be there.
Elvis in the distance
Man, am I glad that I did! Mike was there as usual and so was Elvis. Elvis however was quite a distance from us. Mike said that he’d go on out to where Elvis was but his back was giving him trouble so he was going off to another area. He offered me his tripod but I declined because I’d be leaving and didn’t know where he might be.
We said our good byes. I was now by myself. Well, darn it…. I decided that it was now or never! I’d have to find a way to cross the river and go through a swampy area but I was going to do it. Trying to keep something between Elvis and me as I got close to him should he decide to charge, might be a problem because he seemed to be in an open area. Oh Hell……… It’s now or never!…. Just do it!….. Off I went!
After searching for a while, I found an area in the river where there were some stepping-stones. It was a little tricky and I got a little wet but I crossed the river and made it through a very muddy area. Then, I slowly crept to within about 45 yards of Elvis. There were a couple of small bushes between us….. but…. As you can see by the position of his ears, Elvis is not too happy with me being there!
His ears are back but his head is up!
Yikes! I have to admit that my heart rate went up a bit about that time. Then, as you can see, his ears came forward and he continued to eat. He knew that I was there but he didn’t seem to be bothered by my presence. I was just hoping that the female wasn’t close by and that if she was, I wasn’t between him and her.
Ears forward! A Good Sign!
After about 5 minutes of snapping shots, I left. Hand holding the big lens was not working too well and I was sure that most of the shots would be blurred. However, I am extremely happy with what I got! What a rush!
Well, it was time for me to head down the road but I had to take one last shot of Elvis before I left.
Elvis of Gross Ventre, Grand Teton National Park
Good bye Big Guy! I hope to see you next year!
In retrospect, if I had not forgotten my tripod, I probably would not have met Mike Jackson. Chances are that I would not have gotten the photos of Elvis. I certainly would not have gone out by myself to get the close-up of Elvis. Funny how things seem to work out!
Thank you Mike Jackson for your kindness and all your help. I hope to see you again next year too. Please visit Mike’s website. You’ll see what a wonderful artist he is. His site is:
Thanks for coming along. I hope that you’ve enjoyed the trip.
BTW, I should be heading back up to Squaw Creek in a couple of weeks to take photos of eagles. Stay tuned!