Cataloochee Valley Elk
Those photobucket pictures are not sequential to the event.
Most everyone knows where Maggie Valley, NC, is located. But, between Maggie and Wayneville, NC, there's a valley where elk are being settled, called the Cataloochee Valley. My two brothers, Roger and Earl, and a buddy Wayne, who is like a brother rode over Tuesday, (12-4) from Travelers Rest, SC, to see if they were around. Roger remembered his camera, and we took some pictures with our cell phones. We counted 41 elk! Just lucky, but then we encountered some very, very friendly 'bulls'!!
We were just standing at our bikes chatting when they first appeared coming from the dead end of the park road, near the old barn, and the Galloway place. Slowly, the appeared from the woods, then they roamed up the broomstraw field. We just stood there watching, basically in awe at the way they were 'migrating' up the field eastward. Most people only hear the bugling, or an occasional, small herd.
Two bulls were head-butting/play-fighting as they walked up the valley. As they approached us, they still appeared in a playful mood, but we just remained still, and most of the time between our bikes and them; too late then to get on our ponies and ride out of there!
After passing us, two bulls approached my GSA, with us standing 20' away.
They began licking and sniffing on the boxer engine, seat, windshield, etc., one on the port side, the other opposite. Getting anxious after seeing them rocking the BMW a bit, I clapped my hands, and they moved to my buddies red Honda! There they resumed there licking, slobbering and sniffing. We clapped our hands together again, and they loped away, but only about 20' again.
Wayne, my buddy, went to his tail bag, to remove a blue towel, with the intent to wipe off the slobber from his windshield, seat and just wherever their big, ole, long tongues lapped. Two of the brazen bulls came over and watched what he was doing, and then he came over attempting to lick on the blue towel!! [url]http://s205.photobucket.com/albums/bb89/larryepps/Elk%20and%20BMW/?action=view¤t=Waynesnewbuddy-1.jpg[/url]
He was shocked, as you can see in the picture I took with a cell phone! Wayne has the red jacket, me the 'blond' guy. The other bull picked up his gloves and was interested in eating them, but we would not allow that! :)
Knowing that these are wild animals, etc., etc., we felt safer just staying fairly still, and acting calmly and quietly, instead of running off, although we had plenty of time to amble away.
What an experience, and I'm glad they were in a good mood!! And, it appeared that those bulls may have been fed at some time or other, or were they just curious? Anyway, that was a good day of motorcycle riding, and all's well that ends well!
Wow, what a neat experience. I agree, it appears the y have been hand fed and feel comfortable approaching people.
That's right around the corner from our house up there... we can see the Cataloochee Ski area from our deck.
I've ridden through the valley several times over the past few years, as the elk herd slowly grew.
As you discovered, many of the elk there are are old-timers and more than a little comfortable with humans. :ha
Great thing that they're being repopulated in the area.
Gosh, there is a ton of good adventure riding surrounding the valley. Glad you decided to visit!
I think Wayne has a new boyfriend:D
Excellent pics Larry! That sure is a beautiful area, isn't it?
Hope to see you again soon.
While these Elk look very tame and docile,they are wild creatures and it being near the end of the Rut season.They normally would not approach humans.Perhaps they though that your machines were some fancy female Elk cows.I would be very cautious about being near them.I have seen them stand up on their rear legs and get very agressive with their antlers and front hooves.These beasts can move quite fast and have been known to defend against anything that might be a threat to the heard or a mate.After the initial introduction to the Smokies, the heard has spread out to beyond the GSMNP and now have been seen in the outskirts of the towns and communities of Haywood County.Even some of the farmers are now having problems with Elk knocking down fences and destroying crops.Rumor is that Park Service may allow some limited hunting to control the population.You did get some nice pictures and were lucky no one got attacked.
What would you get if your GSA was cross bred with an Elk? I don't know? I was just asking?
[QUOTE=EvryDayRide;841560]What would you get if your GSA was cross bred with an Elk? I don't know? I was just asking?
Too much smoke???
Great pics. I would have been very nervous to have bull elks approach that closely, but they're apparently very acclimated to people. Even in Yellowstone I've never seen them come up like that. Thanks for posting.
They roam the city streets of the NW and Canada. Jasper for one , has so many about the area of the city limits. Watch out is GOOD warning, because many folks have been less than intellegent around wild critters. So beautiful to see and even up cloise can leave one's breath taken away in awe. I handle large animals frequently with horsres and cattle and we are NO match for their sillyness, if it gets wierd...Just watch yourself. I guess the area must have a population control, as in hunting these in season, for obvious reasons. I love looking at them, do not hunt them, but know its required and I support it. Randy:thumb