A Boy Named Sue | Plains Bison Photography

by on August 16, 2012

Since the bison rut is slowly winding down at Elk Island, I thought I’d post an image of one of the bull bisons I took a couple of years ago (two years from yesterday, actually!). Like today, the rut would have been coming to an end, and on a little walk down a windy, dirt road back to my car, our paths crossed. Definitely not the first time I’ve come face to face with these large beasts, but one of the most interesting. I was hand holding the 300mm ƒ2.8, and a quick observation of his behaviour told me he didn’t appear threatened by me or to me, so I felt comfortable holding my gear up to my face to shoot as I was slowly backing up to a safer zone near my vehicle, where I then stayed put, dead in my tracks and out of his way. This is where knowing even basic biology of your target species comes into play, and I feel it’s a must when being around wildlife of any kind. Bison, while potentially dangerous and often unpredictable, are a treat to watch, especially right now during the rut. These bulls are also hormonally charged, stressed and drained in their attempts to mate, so extra caution around these animals is most definitely warranted.

While I’m no expert, I feel okay sharing the open trails with these boys. After all, I know they’re the boss at all times and as long as I respect this arrangement and I know how to read their behaviour, I feel we can share the same space.

I have to say, his muddy, dirty face was fascinating to watch, and even though he was probably just resting up after a long and stressful rutting season, I thought he looked sad. Looking back 2 years later, I still feel the same way. Guess I’ll never know.


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See you in the field!



Photographer. Podcaster on hiatus. Edmonton Oilers lovah. Cinematic Star Wars fan. Fond of wildlife conservation, animal rescue orgs, and all things Johnny Cash. Gen X. 

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