Elk at Great Smoky Mountains NP

We headed out Labor Day weekend to see Elk in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park around Cataloochee in Maggie Valley. The Elk were starting into the rut season, and the Bull Elk were strutting around showing off their massive Antlers. It is a really great time to come as the Bull Elk are in rare form and will put on a show bugling and fighting.We were up there for three days shooting photography, shopping, and sight seeing. We stopped by Maggie Valley Arts and Crafts show and got to see some folks doing carvings with chain saws. That was very interesting to see them carve a bear out of a log. That is something you don't get to see everyday where we live.One of my photography goals while we were up in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park around Cataloochee in Maggie Valley was trying to get some photos of large Bull Elk in the morning. I managed to get at least one big Bull Elk in the park at Cataloochee in the morning on Sunday. He had a little harem going of about five female Elk. I just purchased a new Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens and a Kenko Teleplus PRO 300 DGX 1.4x AF Teleconverter, so I was looking to put my newest camera purchase to the test.We got up early Sunday to head out to Cataloochee in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park before the sun came up. We stopped by Joey's Pancake House in Maggie Valley to have a little breakfast before we got the day started. The best time to see these elk at this time of year is in the morning before the crowds get there. We were one of maybe five cars in the whole park at the break of dawn. Cataloochee park is part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but it has a gate to the entrance that opens at sunrise and closes at sunset. The Elk need a break from people too, I guess. So if you don't go in the morning you will miss them a lot of times. They tend to head back up into the mountains to get some shade and rest. This is how they behave during the rut season, mind you. Other times we have visited, they were there all day. There is nothing better than getting there early. Having the whole park to yourself, seeing the sun come up behind a bunch of Elk, and hearing the echo of a big Bull Elk bugling all through the Cataloochee Valley makes a perfect start to a day.