BearHead Photography has many images to showcase his expansive portfolio on mammals of North America, and here are his wild elk, deer, and pronghorn photos.
Into the Mist
Not long after I spotted this bull elk, his females headed for the river. It was a foggy morning, but when I got to the river, there was more fog there than in the meadow. It was such a neat, eerie feeling seeing the elk go in the river and disappear in the fog. In the fall when the temperature drops over night, a fog can occur, and it provided a dramatic scene for this large bull elk as he entered the water.
I knew this morning that the sunrise would be nice. When I heard an elk bugle, I began to search quickly for him. Seeing him stand their in front of the mountain as he called out was a great moment.
This is the largest bull elk I have ever seen! He was truly huge, and the way he carried himself showed how much he knew he was king of the area. Early one morning he was rounding up his females, and he went on this hill to look around. The recent snow on the mountains, and his beauty, created a perfect picture to start the day.
A Grand Morning
The Grand Tetons are a spectacular mountain range. As I headed out this morning they were not in view due to the fog. All of a sudden they appeared and the morning light was just hitting them. I found a pronghorn and it ran on top of this hill to show the awesome grandeur of the Tetons.
In late fall, mule deer will go into rut and begin to fight for the right to mate. Earlier this morning these three deer were sizing each other up, but not doing anything serious. All of a sudden the two smaller bucks began to fight, and the larger deer came back to break it up.
Elk are very active in the morning during the rut trying to chase off other males and corral their females. After an exhausting morning, an elk takes a break and just reflects on the morning and looks over his harem.
On a cold morning in Canada, this bull elk was busy chasing younger males to keep them from his females. When he stopped to bugle, the steam rolled off his back and from his mouth when he called.
When it snows on the plains, it really makes the brown landscape pretty. This tall mule deer buck had just chased off another buck, and it almost seemed as he basked in his win in this quiet corner of the thicket.
Only dedicated photographers get up long before the sun and head out to look for silhouettes. Silhouettes of wildlife are not easy, and rarely does an animal actually go on a high point in the short amount of time a silhouette works. But when they do, it creates a dramatic memorable photo!
I never tire of finding a monster elk. This elk had huge mass in his antlers, and also had many points. Seeing him walk around, it was obvious he was the king and he knew it. He was a beautiful animal, and it's great to know animals like this still exist in the wild!
Elk get to live in beautiful areas for the most part. They usually live in the mountains in the high country. During the rut they will follow the females and come down to the meadows. This large elk had control of a beautiful area and dominated any other bulls who challenged.
It had been very difficult to photograph this elk, as it had been in the shade behind the hill. He heard another bull elk bugle, so he ran to look at his competitor, and as he did the last light illuminated him against the dark forest.
There are certain animals you never forget about when you see them. I had seen this mule deer before, but didn't get a good photo. So when I came upon him again, I wasn't going to leave him until I got a good shot, and after this photo I left him and let him go on his way.
There was no doubt between the other bull elk who was king of the area. This is the largest bull elk I have ever seen, and he was a very aggressive bull. He enjoyed going on high points and looking over his harem and showing how large he was to any competing bull.
All Out Battle
The lead up to this fight was many hours of bugling and showing off each others size across the river. Finally, one bull decided to swim the river and show the other bull who was boss. Within seconds of the bull touching land, the two large bull elk went at it and battled for 4-5 minutes before the challenger won the fight.
Finding animals in the early morning is difficult, but can be very rewarding. As the sun is rising and lighting up the sky for the first time is a very active time for animals, but it is hard to spot them because it is still dark. I was fortunate to catch this guy as he was quickly moving looking for females, and he stopped for a moment to look back after he heard a noise.
These deer kept coming closer to me as they were fighting. They did not care what was around them as they were to worried about the other buck. One time as they went to buck heads they were face to face and looking at each other in the eye.
Mule deer can have large and wide antlers. Even though this buck looked young, seeing his antlers as he walked this ridge from a distance made him appear much older.
Pyramid Peak is one of the first mountains to receive light in the morning. I'm always hoping to find an elk near the river where the mountain is reflected in the morning. Finally, after days of waiting, I had my elk at first light and was able to capture both reflected in the river.
In the fall, bull elk fight for the right to mate. There are intense battles and lots of chasing of other bulls off. After successfully chasing another bull off, this elk came running back smiling to his females.
The combination of mountains, river, animals and great light is hard to beat. There is just something special about being in a place that looks like it could have been this way 100's of years ago. These elk slowly move across the river to their nightly grounds.
During the elk rut, bulls gather their females into a harem. There is no harem too large that a bull does not think he can watch over. Over the course of a few days this bull was challenged many times by other bulls, but he won every time and his harem continued to grow.
I had been tracking this bull elk for a few days. When he began to approach the hill I was on I stayed still, and when he got close he bugled and was above me.
There is only a small window in the morning and evening when the light is golden. I found this deer well before light, and stayed with him waiting for the sun to rise. Once it did, I had my perfect subject in the perfect light!
Some of the most beautiful things in nature happen at the beginning and end of each day. I heard this elk bugling in the dark, so I wandered into the woods to find him. As the sun was beginning to light the clouds, he crossed a ridge in front of me and moved on quietly through the forest.
Searching for white-tail deer is very time consuming. I might find a number of deer, but many run before I can ever get my camera focused on them. When the forest is covered in snow, I want even more so to find a buck to photograph. This large buck did run at first, but when he turned to check me out one last time before disappearing I was ready!
The first light of the day can create dramatic images. Animals are often on the move in the morning, as well, but they aren't out for long before laying down for a nap. This mule deer was heading for the trees when I caught him backlit in the morning glow.
I enjoy seeing an elks breath on a cold morning in the fall. After a bull runs around some chasing other males off, he has more breath that shows in the cool air. Here he was letting out a long bugle that lasted for many seconds.
On this very foggy morning I could barely see anything. As I was going along I saw a few deer and decided to stop since I had not seen anything else. As I was watching they came together and started interacting. Next thing I knew a couple of them were on their hind legs punching at each other. With the added fog in the scene it did not look real.
High Valley Call
The elk rut is an exciting time to be in the mountains. Bull elk are fighting for the right to mate, and their bugles can be heard throughout the valleys. This large elk was on the move and looking for more females from the highest part of the meadow.
The rut is a serious time if you are a male elk. For a short period of time, they have a chance to mate. Bull elk can fight for a couple months to determine who has the right to mate. Fall was mostly gone, but these two large bulls were still fighting to see who was more powerful and dominant than the other one.
Mating season is serious for any animal. They only get a short period of time each year to prove their worth and get to mate. Every male wants to pass on their genes to the next generation. To do that they have to beat out the other males and win the female.
There are nice bucks of all kinds across the country. Most of the time the deer has nice round antlers, but sometimes they flatten out. A palmated buck is one that his antlers almost look as if they have webbed and connected together.
A Coastal Walk
Seeing animals along the coast makes the coast that much more beautiful. I'm glad there are places nature can still enjoy nature. With steep coastal cliffs, these elk were moving to reach their feeding grounds for the night.
Being in the mountains on a chilly morning with fog with exciting for me! It's just a different feeling I only get in the mountains. After tracking down this elk, I knew he would cross the Athabasca River because his females were on the other side, and when he did it made for a beautiful scene.
Keeping together a herd of ladies is difficult for a male. The females will often split up and the male will have to follow them and chase them back to the herd. This males herd decided to cross the river and hang out on a small island to try and have some peace.
On a cold morning the breath of an elk is more obvious. While running to scare off another bull elk, he was bugling and the steam from his breath was rolling behind him as he ran.
Back and Forth
Seeing two animals go head-to-head is always exciting. When animals fight, it is normally very serious and they aren't just playing around. And when two large animals get together, it's even more exciting to see just how powerful they are. The intensity of the fights can even lead to death sometimes.
On a cold morning, the brown grass looks white due to the frost. This wide antlered elk has lost his females and calls to them hoping they will come back.
Mountain Round Up
Being in the mountains in the fall is something I look forward to every year. Hearing the elk bugle throughout the mountains is a sound I will never tire of hearing. This elk was running around making sure his females didn't leave his sight.
White tail deer antlers can grow in many different ways. Most of the time they grow with a slight curve to the front and the points go straight up. But they can be really thick (or thin), wide, short, palmated, or in a basket shape. This buck had a basket rack and his front antlers almost touched.
Any time it snows, I get excited because of the different photo opportunities snow offers. It was well before light when I saw this deer, but since it was snowing, I photographed him and it was the only photo I got that day of deer in the falling snow.
Hearing the sound of an elk in the fall is great whether you are close or far away. I was much closer than I planned with this bull elk. After cornering me, he bugled right in front of me and made me forget about the situation I was in for a few seconds.
Bull elk don't get to take a break during the rut. They are constantly on the move and trying to keep up with their harem. After his females continually ran away from him, he let out a deep strong bugle that let them know he was not happy.
The bull on the bottom had just lost a fight and swam the river to get away from the other bull. Waiting on the other side was another large bull elk. The elk that had just lost a battle had to fight again just to be able to get on land and get away from the other bulls.
White-tail deer are skittish animals. They don't trust humans and always seem on edge. This large male stopped to sniff the scent of a female, and then quickly kept going to follow her trail.
Most people do not like getting up early, but you have to to be a wildlife photographer. Animals are on the move in the first light of the day, and often bed once the sun rises and it gets warmer. Catching this deer with the sunrise colors behind him made getting up worth it!
Redwood trees are the largest trees in the world. With all the trees so large, it is often hard to tell just how large they are. In the morning as this elk was just starting to move around, the nearby redwoods towered around it.
Throughout the mountains there are areas that have been burned naturally, and that fire is needed for the ecosystem to stay healthy. After a fire, new plants and flowers will begin to grow and create a new area for animals to eat. This bull elk had females more on his mind than eating, but his ladies didn't want to leave the burnt forest.
When people think of seeing an elk, they often envision it being in a meadow. On the California coast there are a few spots where elk walk the beach searching for food during the winter.
Watching white-tail bucks chase each other around is fascinating. You can tell when one is really trying to intimidate another buck, because their neck will be twice the normal size.
Being near elk in the fall is great for the ears. There is not much of a better sound in nature than an elk bugle. As the trees begin to change, a bull elk lets a call out to ring through the woods.
Bull elk have very symmetrical antlers, and most are very similar in how they are built. But not all elk are alike. Some have more length, width, mass, or points. I really liked this guy because of his mass, and the sticker points he had off his main royal.
Under the Canopy
One morning it was snowing in the Hoh rainforest and I was photographing the beauty of that. While walking the forest I ran into a deer. It was different seeing the forest covered in snow and the deer moving around eating the lush mosses.
A Learning Look
The curiousness of this fawn was awesome. It would come right up to us and check us out and then run back to mom. Mom did not seem to mind that it was doing this either. It would slowly inch closer and closer, then when it spooked itself it would leave. Young animals are always trying to learn.
This baby elk fawn could have only been born a few hours prior. It was the smallest elk I have ever seen, and struggled to walk around. It was so small that it couldn't even see of the small sage brush, so mom had to be very careful and look out for predators.
During the winter elk are are more trying to survive and sustain than grow. Most of their food is dead or buried under the deep snow. It is not an easy task for animals in Yellowstone to survive the winter, and this bull elk would hardly move each day to save his energy.
The antlers on an elk rise a good distance above their head. I can't imagine having to try and hold that much weight up on my neck. This large elk had the best territory and view in the area, and his white points showed off how good of shape he was in.
Pronghorn are now an easy animal to photograph. They are extremely fast, and don't stay still often. This good sized male was focused on a group of females, so I had more of an opportunity to get him to stay still.
This elk was in a hurry all morning trying to keep his harem together. As he stopped to look around, steam rose off his body and you could see in his eyes he was tired of running around.