Autumn Sunrise | Elk Island National Park, Memory Lane

by on January 21, 2016

Missing that moose

Whenever I’m at Elk Island, in the back of my mind, I’m looking for moose and elk – preferably bulls. I’m very happy to come across any wild species whilst I’m there, but it’s been a really long time since I’ve seen a bull moose with a full rack at a semi-close range in the area. It was 2009 and it was during a hot summer morning after spending hours shooting at the park and there he was; up to his legs in thick, green brush. He was so large, this beautiful, majestic bull, with his dark brown rack a sharp contrast against the lush greenery. We stood there in amazement because as he moved further away from us off in to the distance, he did so in what seemed to be the most graceful manner – far more graceful than I could ever pretend to be at any given moment.

We finally got it together enough to put down the binoculars and pick up our cameras and photograph him. I had the ol’ Canon 5D Mark II and the 70-200mm ƒ2.8 with me, and even with some serious cropping in post, the photos made him look like a toy figurine left on the lawn in someone’s backyard – he was that far away from us by the time we were ready for action. Before we left, a small group of people gathered alongside us, trying to figure out what we could possibly be looking at in this huge, seemingly empty deep field. A couple of young women jumped up and down when they spotted him. I’ve never forgotten that moose, just as I keep what is probably every single wildlife sighting I’ve ever experienced since I was a kid, tucked away in my brain for another day.

Autumn sunrise over Astotin Lake Islands with Canadian geese flying at Elk Island National Park, Alberta landscape. Copy space horizontal.

Fast forward a couple years later to the morning I made the image above. I had one mission: to be at Elk Island before dawn and photograph the elusive bull moose again. So I made sure I was in what I figured to be in the right area – I went with my gut. I was ready to go and I positioned myself, binoculars in hand, tripod set up, ready to focus and click the shutter at a moments notice.

Sadly, there is no moose in this photograph. They won by remaining the elusive creatures they are to me that morning. I decided last night to look back through my old, beaten-up photography paper notebook from 2011, and I found the entry from this particular morning and after what was an overall lovely morning, I simply wrote, “BUGGER.”

Ah, that says it all, doesn’t it?


Still missing the elusive Elk Island bull moose. I’m ready to cross paths again. I’m also missing those warm, autumn Elk Island sunrises.


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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