Wyoming? I often get asked why in the world did you move from Florida to Wyoming?
The reason is pretty obvious when you take a look at my last Friday. I started the morning with the drive to take sunrise photographs in the Grand Teton National Park about 15 minutes north of my home in Jackson. After a few shots I decided to return to Jackson and have breakfast at my favorite restaurant. On the way back to town I noticed the the elk herd at the National Elk Reserve had started to migrate north toward their summer home in Yellowstone National Park. About 100-200 elk had crossed the Gros Ventre river and many of the 5,000+ elk remaining in the reserve were headed towards the river. I sped home grabbed some more gear and had a quick breakfast at Bubba's.
After breakfast, we decided to return to the Kelly road to observe the migration of Elk crossing the Gros Ventre. I grabbed my 7D and a 100-400 mm zoom and walked a quarter mile across hard pack snow into the woods. I hadn't walked 100 yards in the trees when I practically ran into four moose. Three of these were very close in the trees and occupied about 45 minutes of shooting time. I kept walking through hard packed snow to the Gros Ventre. Here I was treated to a spectacle unlike any other. About 100-200 elk had already crossed the river and were grazing in the tree line. The snow was completely covered with elk tracks and other signs of the moving herd. I turned to the West and walked along the river looking for the massive herd to follow. During my walk I was greeted by three bald eagles swooping down the river looking for fish. At the first bend in the river a flock of Canada Geese were chattering noisily along the rocky bank. This deserved another couple dozen photos.
I continued along the river and to my amazement on the high banks on the South side there were literally hundreds if not a couple thousand elk who had moved from the refuge to the high bluffs of the river. I remained there for about an hour watching the elk but they had laid down and it was clear they would not be moving in the next couple of hours. As I walked along the river I estimated that there were elk for about 2 miles positioned nearly nose-to-tail along the entire ridge line.
On the way back to my Jeep I stopped again the photograph a cow and two moose yearlings. They posed majestically in a cranny between two trees, seemingly unbothered by my presence. I continued my walk through the woods and was startled by another cow elk as she ran across my path. Over the two hours of my trek, the warm sun had softened the crust on the top of the snow making the walk across the meadow "interesting." I consistently broke through between six and 12 inches of snow as I crossed the meadow to the steeply inclined gravelly bank back up to the parking area on Gros Vente Road.
Before returning to Jackson, I drove down the road past the small town of Kelly seeing three more bald eagles and several more moose bringing the total moose for the day up to 19.
Why do I like Wyoming? This was just another spring morning and a very good Friday.