Bull Elk - Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA.

Paul Stewart

Wahroonga,, Australia

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The elk, or wapiti (Cervus canadensis).

The Challenger confidently fords the icy torrent, pauses to quench his thirst, and climbs the riverbank to confront the big bull elk for his harem.

Frost lingered on the grasses into the late morning and mist rose from the stream in contact with the frigid still air.

It was a freezing night in Yellowstone National Park. I slept only lightly.

I awoke before dawn with the sounds of bugling echoing through the mountains. This is the fascinating noise the bull elk make when confronting their opponents.

The big bull Elk was defending his harem against a challenger on the opposite side of the frigid river.

The steam billowed from his mouth in the frosty morning air as he raised his head in defiance. The vocal challenge although impressive was not enough to drive away the potential usurper.

The Bull Elk made a show of strength crossed the river the waters cold enough to dampen any ardour the interloper retreated into the forest.

The Bull Elk satisfied that victory had been won slowly returned to his waiting harem and escorted them to fresh pastures to graze.

Undaunted by the rebuttal he had received – the day had only just dawned- the challenger calmly entered the river.

The sun rose above the mountain and captured him and a gorgeous reflection in the water.

The Challenger was confident -he did not race through the icy torrent – he paused midstream to quench his thirst.

He was headed in the direction of the harem. I did not know who would emerge victorious at the end of this day.

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