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Monarch of the Forest

Monarch of the Forest
Photo Information
Copyright: Rick Price (Adanac) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-09-10
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Canon 20D, Canon 100-400/4.5-5.6L IS
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/250 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): National Parks of Canada [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-10-09 11:54
Viewed: 7526
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 54
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
This Bull Elk was feeding on some grasses in Jasper National Park. He did not have a harem of cows, so I can only speculate that we had not won any battles yet.
Cervus elaphus
General Description

By Gustave J. Yaki

The common name of this species has caused much confusion. In North America, early British settlers called it Elk although in Europe that name was already applied to Alces alces which we know as the Moose. It has since been referred to as the Red Deer. That is a more appropriate name as this is the American race of that species which also inhabits Europe and central Asia. Here, it is also commonly known as Wapiti, a Shawnee Indian name meaning 'white rump'. Other native names are Ponoka and Waskasoo

The Elk or Wapiti is the second largest member of the Deer Family, exceeded in size only be the Moose. Mature males (stags) weigh an average of 315 (265-500) kg or 700 (590-1120) pounds. The females, known as hinds, average 225 kg or 495 pounds. Stags measure 140 cm (56 in) tall at the shoulder; hinds stand 130 cm (52 in) tall.

The stags develop an impressive set of antlers. The first set, grown by yearling stags, are simple 20-50 cm long spikes. The second set is a miniature rack with three or four points on each side. The heavier third set has four or five points. Subsequent antlers usually attain six points. Only rarely do they possess seven or eight points. Adult antlers measure 110-160 cm (4-5 feet) in length along the beam, and about the same in spread. The antlers usually begin to grow in April. The velvet is rubbed off in late August or early September and are shed from late February into early April.

The main function of the antlers is for show, to intimidate a rival male and probably to serve as a signal of physical fitness to potential female mates. In the evenings, from late August to November, the stag utters a high-pitched bugling sound which carries for about a mile across the clear autumn air. This vocalization likely indicates his whereabouts to the females. The females and their calves, which have been in separate herds all summer, now gather into harems, supervised by mature stags. Up to thirty hinds, plus their young, may make up a single harem. It is uncertain whether the hinds gather around the stags or if he collects them individually. In any event, besides mating with the hinds, he also has to keep rival stags at bay. Because of these duties the stag seldom has time to feed during the six-week long rutting season. As a result, he loses considerable weight and is in a vulnerable weakened condition, especially if winter comes early. If he perishes, however, he has fulfilled his role in perpetuating his species.

Following the rut, Elk form huge winter herds of a hundred or more individuals of all ages and sexes. During that time, the herd is led by mature hinds. As spring approaches, the group breaks up. The stags move off in bachelor herds, while the individual hinds separate to bear their young.

After a gestation of 249-262 days, usually from late May to early June, the calves are born. These births are usually of singles, but when food has been abundant, twins occur about 25% of the time. Single calves weigh an average of 17 kg (37 pounds). They are fawn-coloured and have long rows of creamy spots along their back and flanks. During their first few days, they are extremely feeble on their long legs, but are soon able to follow their mothers which gather into groups of about 25 individuals. These groups stay together until the autumn rut. The young remain with the mother throughout the winter. By spring they have learned to shift for themselves. Although young females are sexually mature at 16 months of age, they generally do not bear young until they are three years old. Young males rarely have the opportunity to breed until they reach four or five years of age. In captivity, they live for a maximum of 15-20 years of age.

Their favourite summer diet is one of grass and sedge, supplemented with aster, fleabane, goldenrod, dandelion, baneberry, columbine, fireweed and strawberry. They also have a fondness for mushrooms and horsetails (Equisetums). In winter, besides pawing through snow for grasses, they also eat the twigs of trees and shrubs, particularly willows, Trembling Aspen, Balsam Poplar, Red-osier Dogwood, American Silverberry, Chokecherry, Shrubby Cinquefoil, wild roses and gooseberries. When food is scarce, they will eat the bark off Trembling Aspen and Balsam Poplars, as high as they can reach. The black scarring caused by this feeding activity is visible for years afterward, and may cause the death of the tree if it is completely girdled. If you are aware of the cause, evidence of this means of survival can be seen in Banff National Park. Similar feeding signs can be seen in the Weaselhead Natural Area indicating the presence of Wapiti there ten or more years ago.

This species was once found in abundance across much of southern North America, but as with so many other species, almost totally disappeared as a result of the ruthless actions of early Europeans on this continent. Even in Alberta, they were so threatened that the government had to establish Elk Island National Park in 1907 to protect the remaining individuals. The population in Banff National Park is the result of introductions from Yellowstone National Park in the USA. Other introductions are now frequently being attempted, usually with success, throughout much of their former range. In Alberta, they are now present along the full length of the Rockies, in the western Boreal forest, in the Cypress Hills area, Elk Island National Park and in the Cold Lake region. They prefer open areas such as alpine pastures, river valleys, open prairie and aspen parkland, from about sea level to 2270 m (7500 ft).


gerbilratz, nglen, Patleboss, MMM, Silke, CeltickRanger, Luis52, bobair, tkp1165, PaulH, Argus, Tamrock, horia, marieproue, bartove has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To Dave: ThanksAdanac 1 10-09 15:31
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Critiques [Translate]

fabulous animal...great subject...er, perhaps he ain't the fighting kind?

excellent info

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2007-10-09 11:59]

Hi Rick. What a fine looking animal this is. I like the pose you have with its head turned to one side. fine detail and natural colours. a good POV. the grass in the foreground is nice. well done TFS. you have written interesting notes to with the picture so thanks.

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2007-10-09 12:13]

Hi Rick,

What a wonderful animal this Elk is. I just love the pose - almost like he's daring you to take his picture by the look in his eye. Excellent details and nice natural colors. His antlers are magnificent. Nice natural setting.


Hello Rick,
another great shot of this splendid specimen, lovely natural colors and point of view, great note too,
a great cheer,

  • Great 
  • MMM Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1114 W: 0 N: 2546] (11425)
  • [2007-10-09 12:41]

Hello Rick
Beauitful subject that I had never seen.Excelelnt composition and great POV.Very sharp image and great details in the fur.It seem to be looking at you .
TFS Michel

  • Great 
  • Dave Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 503 W: 43 N: 657] (2178)
  • [2007-10-09 15:26]
  • [+]

Wow Rick! Very majestic! Excellent shot!

Hi Rick,
You are so lucky all this wildlife you see! Beautiful animal..he does appear to be giving you the old evil eye though! :o) Beautiful shot, TFS

hello Rick

what a great animal and what a great photo,
excellent sharpness and details on the image,
i realy like the pov but i would prefer a horizontal
and not vertical framing, i would prfer horizontal
framing with more space the way he is looking



  • Great 
  • Luis52 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1175 W: 8 N: 4240] (15809)
  • [2007-10-09 19:26]

Hola Rick.- Bella foto. Muy hermoso ejemplar y de gran tamaño. Exelente pose y fina estampa. Luis52.

Hi Rick,
the title you have given this photo of Mr Elk is so very spot-on.I have seen these big boys myself and it is certain that they are Kings of their domains,not to be trifled with in the slightest.Your photo puts across his majesty very well and those antlers are very grand looking.You have given us a well composed and detailed,focused shot and I appreciate it very much.The note is also excellent. Bob

  • Great 
  • pirate Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 799 W: 152 N: 1186] (7474)
  • [2007-10-09 22:38]

Hi Rick
great compo and lovely pose. on my screen the picture looks a bit dull, increasing the contrast just a little bit may help, but could remove the ambiance
great anyway

  • Great 
  • Jamesp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
  • [2007-10-09 22:55]

Hi Rick

Great pose here. The POV is effective and the detail really good.


Hi Rick
Beautiful capture of this fine Bull Elk. I like the pose. This has Excellent detail with very nice natural colors.Great job!!

  • Great 
  • PaulH Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1137 W: 26 N: 3879] (13882)
  • [2007-10-10 0:52]

Hi Rick,
wow what an impressive looking beast you've caught here, he looks enormous. Really like the layer of grasses along the bottom and your POV and composition are excellent.
Very nice posting, thanks for sharing this.

Wildlife in all its natural splendour.
Very interesting note too.
Thank you for this great moment


Hi Adanac,
Beautiful sujet and pose. Nice exposure and POV.

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2007-10-10 4:14]

Hello Rick,
He certainly looks well built and powerful, this bull elk and you caught him in a fine pose from a fine low POV with the forest as a BG. Nice and sharp with good lighting.
Thanks for sharing this fine shot,

hi rick!
good one with a mighty feeling!
good composition and i like the pov
well done!

  • Great 
  • ddg Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 867 W: 24 N: 1008] (5507)
  • [2007-10-10 5:25]

Bonjour Rick, superbe composition et belle harmonie de teintes. Les fines herbes du premier plan ajoutent un plus. Vous avez pris la photo en étant à plat ventre!! Félicitations, Didier.


I love this, great exposre and nicely framed, what a wonderful looking animal, I have had the pleasure of seeing this in the wild and you have done a nice job capturing him.



  • Great 
  • horia Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2158 W: 224 N: 4749] (16656)
  • [2007-10-10 6:53]

Hi Rick

A superb capture and a very fitting title indeed.
I really like the look and pose of this bulk elk as well as all the very natural surrounding around it in this frame.
The details are outstanding and the exposure is spot-on, making all the colors very beautiful.
Good verical framing and a very nice and elaborate note.

Bravo and TFS

  • Great 
  • Silke Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 729 W: 98 N: 1707] (5458)
  • [2007-10-10 7:17]

A truly beautiful capture!
I love the PoV and composition here
P.S. Thanks for the well wishes: always hugely appreciated

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2007-10-10 8:05]

Hello Rick,
What a wonderful DOF and low POV in this photo. Beautiful natural colours and a good sharpness and composition.

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2007-10-11 7:50]

Hello Rick

This is a postcard quality shot of this elk.The pose is excellent.The majesty of this bull elk emanates from this image.The setting is beautiful.The low POV is excellent.I wish I were there to see that.TFS


Quelle belle prise, grandiose et impressionnant.

Great shot of this splendid specimen.
TFS Eyal.

Hi Rick,
This fellow is magnificant and you have captured him perfectly. He looks to be in great shape. I have seen some Elk get weather beaten, gangley with broken horns after the rut. He is so handsome with his huge horns, bright eyes and angular head. I love the Spruce-Aspen background as well. Its makes me want to pack the truck and head to Jasper.
Take care of your fine self,

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