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on Jul 29, 2013 in Wildlife Photography

Elk Kill

For years and years, I’ve gone to Yellowstone in the heart of winter looking for one opportunity. I’ve gotten up and entered the park long before sun up in search of that opportunity. And only once have I been rewarded for that persistence. That’s the very nature of wildlife photography. But that one time is one I wouldn’t trade for all the camera gear at B&H! On a dark and snowy day, we came across a fresh elk kill, the carcass hadn’t even been broken open. Over the next ten hours, we witness the carcass nearly disappear and countless coyotes and wolves come and feast. What you’ll see in the video is just one of the coyotes, the one that seemed to have the greatest nerve to deal with pressure that comes eating at a carcass in winter, especially one brought down by wolves. You can tell it’s the same coyote because of the “Z” scare on its nose.

Coyote 1005

What made this kill really amazing was its location. We could pull the snow coach off the road at an official turnout and be legally far enough away from the kill permitting us to park and stay. If you’ve ever been to Yellowstone, you know that set up is rarer than seeing a Great Gray Owl! So, sitting in the van with just the tripod legs outside, I was able to shoot out of the wind (it was -12). Shooting with a D3s, 600VR2 with TC-14e mounted on a Wimberley / Gitzo, I would shoot stills and video. Shooting in AWB A6 before the sun somewhat brighten the skies (also shot ISO3200 then) was a good idea (but you’ve gotta remember to dial it out once the light appears) The video quality and technique leave a little to be desired but it still brings back a rush of the find to me. This is an edited down from the 4hrs of video to just 4min. I did the editing on the iMac with all the vid residing on the ioSafe N2 and doing the editing right in Premiere Pro CS7. What I wanted to convey in the video can be seen in the first frames and the last frames when you look at the elk carcass. It was amazing that 24hrs later,there wasn’t a single shred of evidence, not even blood on the snow, that any of this had ever taken place. Mother Nature is just amazing!