Moose of Smith Dorrien/Spray Trail
by Joe Desjardins
June 28, 2011
The moose rut is truly a magnificent time to be outdoors. With summer changing into fall, nature becomes magical. Days are shorter, temperatures are brisk and the ungulates begin to breed.
Last fall was no exception. While out on the Smith-Dorrien/Spray Trail between Kananaskis and Canmore, AB, I came across a magnificent bull moose. He had just lost the nutrient rich velvet off his antlers and was in search of a mate.
I followed him at a safe distance creating images as he wandered towards a favourite meeting spot. A place I have seen many moose before. Tonight was no exception. There were bulls and cow’s, suckling the mud in search of necessary nutrients. A cow moose was showing her calf what to do. What a sight to see! So I settled in with a long lens and waited to see what was going to happen.
Off in the distance, the large bull engaged in some playful banter with a younger, less experienced bull. After some tickling of the antlers and a little shoving, the larger bull just moved on. Sitting back and reflecting on what I just witnessed, I noticed four cows herding together. Not thinking anything of it, I just kept glancing back and forth between the bulls and the cows. To my utmost surprise, two of the cows engaged in what I would describe as disbelief. Ears pinned back, on their hind legs and front legs engaging in battle! The motor drive on my Canon 7D did not stop until the battle was over.
Before today, I thought it was the bulls that battled for breeding rights. No so, after a few very tense minutes, the fight was over and the unsuccessful applicant walked off. I was in awe. I had witnessed something that I had never heard or read about before. The large bull than proceeded to lick the air and nuzzle his nose behind her to see if she was ready.
At the time, I was using my Canon 500mm F4 with a 1.4x teleconverter coupled to my Canon 7D, giving me an effective focal length of 1120mm. Plenty safe working distance for rutting bulls and aggressive cows. Mounted on a sturdy carbon fiber tripod, ball head and the Wimberley Sidekick, I was ready for action. I could of easily taken off my teleconverter to get more in the frame, but as you all know, when the unexpected happens, it happens fast, and before you know it, the action was over. I did end up with some truly memorable images. The rest of the evening was spent creating images of bulls, cows and a calf, doing what they do best, browsing out in the open field.
Joe Desjardins is a Nationally Accredited photographer with the PPOC, Professional Photographers of Canada in Wildlife and Nature Photography. His work can be viewed at www.westwindphotography.ca
60 Hillview Road
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