Sink or Swim


I could never have imagined when we ventured out on this crisp October morning that we would end up having the craziest, once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounter that I’ve ever experienced –  witnessing bull elk swimming across a lake! Swimming! And it actually happened twice!

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On our drive through the area we saw no signs of wildlife at all and decided to walk to the shore of the lake as the water was so calm and peaceful. While there I saw something odd in the water, off in the distance, and soon realized it was a massive bull elk swimming across! I put myself in a good position to capture this rare moment and fired frame after frame as he got closer and closer and pulled himself from the lake. Several females were in the water behind him and it was clear that something was going on on the other side. Sure enough, the piercing sounds of many bull elk began sounding off all around us. Three large bulls on the other side could be seen capitulating to another large bull with very little fanfare. This dominant elk walked to the opposing shore, directly across from us, took a few sips, let off a bellow and decided he too was going to come across to try his luck with the females on this site. As he made his way across you could tell that the swim was getting more and more difficult for his 700+lb frame. Near the halfway point his breathing seemed to become a bit laboured and he let out one of the primal sounds I’ve ever heard. Clearly there was some regret in his eyes but he pushed on through, blowing steam into the cold air which each hard fought breath. 

In some deeper way I felt I understood his struggle. A feeling of drowning, born from choices of his own making and made in the heat of the moment; choices of passion, desire, and rage; choices resulting in immediate consequences and choices that may have lasting ones as well. But in the end he made it through, emerging from the water, shaken but stronger. 

And in the end, so do we all.


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