BearHead Photography has many images to showcase his expansive portfolio on mammals of North America, and here are his wild moose and caribou photos.
It's not often you come across three bull moose hanging out together. I first only saw one moose, and it was only once I hiked up and over a hill did I see that there were three moose. After spending over three hours with them and only getting mediocre pictures, that all changed in a heartbeat. I couldn't believe my good fortune when they all left the pond and went up on the ridge and stood still for just a few moments. Being all along with these moose with this setting was a moment I will never forget.
It is hard to understand just how vast Alaska is until you have been. Denali is over 6 million acres, and the majority of that land is all backcountry access only. Wildlife can truly live their lives and never be influenced by human activity. A large moose takes advantage of a nice evening to eat from a pond and to get away from the bugs.
The plants and bushes in the tundra can be very tall. I often forget just how big the moose are because they are usually only a foot or two above the bushes. This massive moose had no problem moving around in the fall because he was so much taller than everything.
The Great Caribou
Large bull caribou can have really strange looking antlers once they are fully grown. They roam the far north and are continuously on the move looking for food and to get away from the bugs. There is not a really large herd in Denali like there use to be, but this large guy was alone one morning and went on a small ridge to look out over the valley and up at Denali.
The fall in Denali is my favorite season of the year! The colors and activity of the animals always gets me up early in the morning. I hiked many miles to have an opportunity to photograph this moose. I had gotten good shots, but after he moved up the hill to scare another bull moose off, did I finally get a shot that showed just how endless the valleys of Denali are.
It is not very often that you have a crystal clear view of Denali. On my last camping trip of the summer I was fortunate to come across this scene. In Wonder Lake was a mother and calf moose taking there time eating the grass of the bottom of the lake. I could not think of a better way to end my summer.
Caribou can move miles and miles every day across the tundra. Tundra is not an easy terrain to travel, and they make it look easy. Caribou can be very skittish around people as well because they don't often see humans. This caribou did not mind me and continued eating the lichen around the lake as I photographed him with Wonder Lake and Denali in the background.
Beauty of Alaska
Finding an animal of the size is always a thrill. After finding him, I was hoping to be able to put him in the environment and show just how large he is. After following him around for over an hour, he finally went in a low vegetation area, and I positioned myself right in front of him as he walked through.
While in Denali, I love being in the backcountry exploring on my own. It is so fun to be off the beaten path and find animals by myself. Once I found these moose, I did my best to track them across the endless tundra. When they walked the ridge above this pond, I knew all the tracking I had done had more than been worth, and I could reflect back on how great the state of Alaska is!
After trekking miles with this moose, I still wasn't sure I was going to be able to get any pictures of him. He always stayed just far enough out of good photo range. Finally, he stood on a ridge and looked back and me (and I wondered what was going through his head). It was a powerful moment in the backcountry on a beautiful evening.
I love getting off the road and away from everyone and finding my own shot. There are many times I spend hiking through the tundra or woods and don't come up with anything. But those moments when you do find wildlife to yourself are the moments you never forget. When I found these three bull moose together I was ecstatic. I followed them for over three hours before this special moment occurred, and I was more than happy that I waited and followed to see what photographic opportunities they would present.
The amount of time I search for animals in Denali, as compared to how much I find and get to photograph animals, is dramatically different. So when I find an animal in an amazing place, it is that much more exciting. Watching these three moose move together in the lake while the Alaskan range was out was 9 years of waiting. I've looked and looked for moose here, and I just knew one day they would be there. I didn't expect three, but getting to be there and capture them in the lake was incredible.
Finding a bull moose in the snow was a goal of mine. The year prior when it snowed, all the bull moose left and didn't show themselves. So, when I saw this guy in the snow in the fall colors I didn't leave him until I had every possible angle I could find with him in the snow.
The Denali landscape is full of undulating land and many valleys. When looking from above, you normally can't see all those dips in the landscape, but from this vantage point I could. I also managed to find three bull moose moving across the valley, only soon to disappear into one of those valleys. The Denali landscape is large and feels as if it is never ending.
King of Domain
There are some animals you come across that take your breath away immediately. This caribou was so large and looked so good, there was no way I was going to look for another animal this day. I tracked him for hours, and he moved around as if he knew he was the largest caribou around.
I love capturing the beauty of natural light. The best light can come and go so fast, and having an animal in the right spot when the light is good is rare. It's those moments that we spend all the time in the wild looking for animals. This caribou decided to walk the ridge, which was where the sun was lighting while the mountains were covered in a dark cloud. The contrast was awesome and created a very moody scene.
Light is a beautiful thing of nature. Some days we have too much light, and others none at all. When a surprising beam of light shines through the clouds and onto the subject, it makes the scene come to life. This female moose was in the right spot at the right time and the light made the scene much more dramatic than just a few seconds prior.
It is very difficult to find moose in Denali. The brush is often taller than the moose, and you have to wait for them to come into a clearing to see them. At first I saw only one moose, but then another came out, and a long time later a third even came out. When these two decided to go to the pond together, I knew the wait was worth it. Capturing two male moose reflected with the backdrop of an old glacier and snow capped mountains was very thrilling.
Yellowstone in the winter is a hard place to survive. Animals who do live there, have to be smart to make it through. This mother and calf moose were smart to walk the shallow stream instead of the four foot deep snow on either side of the stream.
Moose are not seen very often in the winter in Yellowstone. They move off to different places in the winter. This young moose came out of the woods and walked right to a willow patch. When he was done eating he finished crossing the snow meadow and moved on.
The moose in Alaska are the biggest moose on the planet. They are huge animals, and when close to one you really feel small. When this moose stopped on the ridge above this pond with Denali behind him, I felt small in the scope of the scene I was in.
My favorite time of the year is fall in Denali. Just watching the landscape change and turn a bright red is incredible. Whenever I find a large bull moose in the tundra, it makes the colors look that much more vibrant.
In the fall moose will shed their velvet and expose the hard antler underneath. It is not usually snowing when they do this, but Denali had an early large snowfall. When the velvet is first gone the antlers can be a red color because of the blood vessels that were in the velvet are now exposed. The red color will go away after a couple of days and they will turn white. It was fun finding this moose in the fall colors underneath the snow right as he was shedding his velvet.
In the backcountry of Denali, there are a lot of animals, but the space is so expansive you don't always see animals. Caribou can look like little dots moving on the tundra because the area is so large. We were going after a moose, when this large caribou came over the ridge unexpectedly. He was unsure of us, but stopped and looked at us on the ridge a couple of minutes before moving on.
A High Look
It is amazing how much ground a caribou can cover in one day. It seems as if they are continuously on the move. A caribou pauses to look back to see if other caribou are following him before he crests the ridge and continues on.
Moose will go into ponds to eat algae from the bottom of them. They can also go for a swim and have a little reprieve from all the bugs too. After sticking his head into the pond, a moose begins to move to find another spot and water drains from him as he moves.
Alaskan moose are the largest sub species of moose. At the shoulder they can be 6 foot, and when they are close they are huge. In this picture, they look as big as ants because of just how large the landscape is leading up to Denali.
Coming upon this monster in the woods was a great surprise! I had seen a moose in the distance, but honestly had no idea how large it was. It wasn't until it was standing right in front of me that I realized he was maybe the largest moose around. His pose when he saw me let me know he was boss.
It is hard to imagine an animal this large looking small, but that is what Mt. McKinley does. It is amazing that an animal can grow antlers this large each year, but the over powering size of the tallest mountain in North America makes them seem small.
The fall in Denali is a beautiful time to be there. The tundra comes to life with stunning colors, and moose begin their mating season. This large bull moose went over to this female to greet her and let her know he could be her mate.
Fall is Coming
During the fall in Denali, the underbrush all turns a beautiful red. The fall is also when moose shed their velvet and show their polished antlers. This bull moose was just starting to shed his velvet and get into the spirit of fall.
There are places in nature I go to repeatedly hoping to one day find an animal in that place. This is one of those areas that I went for 9 years since I last saw a moose here. The excitement when I saw not only one moose, but three moose was off the charts. These three moose continued to hang out together and created a perfect setting in the backcountry of Denali.
Denali is such a large place, but yet is difficult to find the right angles to photograph. There are so many undulations in the tundra and large bushes, that I really have to plan out where to photograph a moose as it moves in the tundra. Once I found this open area, I waited and captured the moose with a beautiful mountain behind him.
Finding moose in the large expanse of Denali is not easy. If this moose was 10 yards further back he would have been in taller bushes and impossible to see. It's not often Denali Mountain is fully out, so finding a moose within view of the mountain at the same time was thrilling.
After days of searching for moose in the morning, this moose finally presented itself. He stuck out because of how small the bushes were and how large he was. The sun was still rising, and darkening my camera setting allowed me to capture this moose silhouetted on the ridge with an orange sky.
Male moose will hang out together sometimes before they lose their velvet. Once they lose their velvet they become more aggressive toward each other as mating season approaches. These two large moose noticed me across the ravine and both stared to let me know that they were kings of the area.
Fall in Denali happens much earlier than in the lower 48. By the beginning of September it is sometimes over and winter has already moved in. A bull moose looks over the quickly changing landscape and knows winter will soon be upon him.
The backcountry of Denali seems as if it is endless. There is so much terrain, and 99% of it is wild and untouched. Animals, like this moose, can roam for years and never see a human. After tracking this guy a long distance, I was thrilled when he decided to walk over the hill and come my direction.
In a Vast Area
Many of the moose in Denali are very large. They just grow bigger up there. When looking at this picture, though, you hardly notice the moose because the area surrounded the moose is exceptionally big. Denali's open valleys seem to go forever.
When I saw this moose from a distance I didn't think anything other than he was big and I wanted to get pictures. When I got close and he turned his head the right way, I saw something I had never seen before. His antler on the one side didn't form together and it looked as if he had two antlers on that side. This was unique and exciting because I may never find another moose like this again.
The mountains in Alaska can create dramatic backdrops for moose and other animals. I had been tracking this moose down in a valley, and when he started heading up the hill I hurried to beat him to the top. Once he crested he had the beautiful different colored mountains behind him.
With antlers like these, one misplacement could be its last. When moose get serious and are really knocking heads, its amazing that one doesn't gore the other all the time. I would make sure and have my eyes locked on my competitor too.
Moose are very large and in charge. Moose have short tempers and don't like people or other animals being in their space. I was well over 75 yards from this moose, but he let me know it was time to back up, and I listened and moved quickly.
Early Morning Beauty
Watching a mother and calf move slowly across Wonder Lake as the sun rose was inspiring. The reason they were in the lake was to eat the plants from the bottom of the lake. As the calf looks back it catches a glimpse of the awesome power of Denali.
Every year, caribou regrow their antlers. Once they are done growing, they will shed the velvet, a soft protective layer that helps the antlers grow, and then they will have a hard antler. The antlers aren't hurt, but they turn red for a few days after shedding the velvet because there were blood vessels in the velvet.
The Grand Tetons are a magnificent mountain range. This was one of the larger bull moose I had seen in the park, but when compared to the mountains it didn't seem so large.
When the evening light gets perfect, finding an animal becomes very important. I don't even know how far we searched and how long we searched to find an animal because we knew the light was going to be good. Caribou are skittish animals, so we had to be careful to not spook it as well. We did everything right and this caribou went around the hill and posed in front of the beautiful distant mountains with the clouds rolling over them.
Moose usually have no trouble seeing where they are going because of how big they are. As he was coming up a hill, he wanted to see over it as soon as he could to see if any other moose were around.
If I was another bull moose, I would not be happy seeing these antlers come my way. With that many points and width, there aren't many moose that can give this guy a real challenge.
A Winter Walk
Moose are well adapted for the snow because of their long legs. It is very rare to see snow coming all the way up to a moose's belly, because they have such long legs. On this early morning, it was really snowing and the moose was headed from the meadow to the forest to get out of the snow.
It is hard to believe a moose can regrow its antlers this large every year. They drop their antlers in the winter, and then regrow them this large by August. This moose had a neat design in his velvet that made it look like a coffee mocha.
It was very easy to spot this moose on the white landscape. It was working its way around the stream to hopefully find some plants to eat.
If I were a moose, growing up in Denali would be paradise. There is tons of food, endless territory, and not many humans. The beauty of the landscape is unmatched, and moose can roam for miles a day and be happy in each place they go. This moose was ridge walking and taking in the beauty that he gets to call home.
In mid summer in Alaska a flower called fireweed will start to bloom. It is a beautiful flower that grows tall, but it is sad when it is done blooming. People say once the fireweed finishes blooming there is only a couple weeks left of summer. I found this young female moose at the edge of the flowers before she went into the woods.
Caribou can have very large and very different antlers than any other caribou. Their antlers are not uniform in shape like elk and deer. Finding two larger caribou hanging out and then them moving together on a ridge made for a terrific Alaskan tundra photograph.