This is the first post in my Majestic Elk of Boxley Valley: A Photography Series. Experience and photographs from a wildlife photography trip to see the elk in Boxley Valley, Arkansas.
After seeing incredible elk photos on social media, I decided to revisit Boxley Valley to photograph these majestic creatures for the first time in over 10 years. On October 9th, I embarked on the long but rewarding 3-hour drive to arrive before sunrise.
I stopped to stretch my legs at the Old Whiteley Springs Spring house, just as you enter the valley from the south. After a short break, I continued into the valley as the morning light was just peeking over the mountains. I spotted a small herd with a few impressive bull elk in a pasture by the road. Though still a bit dark for photos, I parked and watched one dominant bull run off its competitors. As the elk started moving toward the timber, I hurriedly got my camera ready to capture the lead bull before it disappeared.
The lighting wasn’t ideal, but I’m sharing a couple shots of this wet, stately creature while it was still in the open pasture. Despite the challenges, I’m pleased with how these turned out. The muted dawn light and damp antlers add a peaceful mood. With no tall grass in this pasture, the bull’s massive antlers stand out beautifully against the simple background.
Returning after 10 years to photograph these elk with the busy highway in sight was an interesting experience. The elk seem unfazed by all the traffic and people stopping to admire them. I’m eager to return more regularly now and spend more time with these majestic yet adaptable residents of the Arkansas mountains. The early mornings and photography challenges will be well worth it to observe and capture images of these symbols of wilderness, even so close to civilization.
Steve Creek, Wildlife Photographer
Image Information (First Image):
- Date: 10/9/23
- Time: 7:26 AM
- Camera: Canon EOS R5
- Lens: Canon RF 100-500 mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM
- ISO: 8000
- Aperture: 7.1
- Shutter: 1/400
- Exp. Comp.: +0.3
- Program: Manual