Sunset pictures, beautiful landscape, some portraits, and lots of elk. This event started out as a personal trip to Las Vegas that ended up turning into a family portrait session.
Brothers that get together locally but never travels together decided they wanted to take their mother to see the Grand Canyon. With their mother on a destination of a lifetime that she always wanted to see was a great opportunity for brothers and nephew to come together and share some memories. During the day amidst the beautiful, sun-soaked landscapes were plenty of elk that came to eat and make sure they had their chance at getting in some photographs. I had the opportunity to speak with one of the park rangers, and they shared some interesting facts about these magnificent creatures with me.
Most people love trees in a forest setting, but in the forest where the elk live, too many trees can block sunlight from getting to the woods floor. Without sunlight, the grasses and forbs, which are key to elk nutrition won’t grow
Just like deer, elk will very, very on rare occasion eat meat. For the most part, elk seem to constrain themselves to snacking on the occasional bird nest and nestlings.
Elk can reach a maximum speed of 45 miles per hour. In comparison, a horse, on average could hit 29 mph while galloping, with a theoretical maximum of 55 mph. However, over rough terrain such as snow, wild elk will easily beat their domesticated cousins by a long shot.
Despite being large and very much in charge, elk are very agile creatures. Not only do they have a maximum vertical jump of eight feet, but they can also look pretty cool while doing it.
I learned that many believe in ages past, the rounded, thumb-sized teeth in the upper jaws of elk were tusks—fighting tusks that were used to ward off predators and to engage rivals during the rut.
Missing an elk’s bugling is hard. It’s loud, and it carries for miles. Elk can also communicate with each other in a quieter way and signal each other using their feet.
Elks were key to the success of the Corps of Discovery Expedition led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Without elk, they would likely have failed. Although there were only 33 members of the long expedition, the crew had eaten their weight in elk. There were times on this journey when the team would eat at least one elk per day. Hunting elk became more efficient for food than fishing. Lewis and Clark also used elk skin and tallow for candles, bedding, clothing, cooking fat, and even binding for their journals.
An elk’s antlers have been known to grow more than an inch a day in the summer. The amount of antler growth an elk undergoes, as well as total antler size, depends on how on how soon and how much sunlight the bull gets. Sunlight elevates testosterone in bulls, which in turn triggers the growth of antlers. By the time they’re finished, antlers can weigh in as much as 40 pounds.
In addition to the great elk family; getting to take this family portrait session against some of nature’s most spectacular natural backdrops made for a great day and memorable experience.