The Elk rut is a time of intense activity with adult bulls challenging one another, bugling, and fighting. However in this moment, as a big bull bugled with his breath turning to steam in the frosty mountain air a cow and calf in the foreground lend the appearance of a family posed for a portrait.
Even during the frenzy of the rut a cow takes time out to do her duty as a mother nursing her calf. The calves, with the exception of a few late born, have lost their spots appearing as miniatures of their mothers.
Pennsylvania offers a unique opportunity to view and photograph elk close-up with the Winslow Hill herd being acclimated to where they pay little attention to humans. However these are wild animals in the sense that they are free-ranging and should not be approached too closely. The first two photos in this post were taken using a 600mm lens and the last with a 500mm at distances of 80-100 yards. A distance at which both the elk and the photographers remain safe.