A photographer might go to extreme lengths to capture the perfect shot, but what started as an innocent encounter with a wild animal in the Smokey Mountains turned into a scary situation.
James York of North Carolina was taking pictures in the Cataloochee Valley of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Gatlinburg, Tenn., this week.
York was sitting on the ground snapping shots when a young elk approached him, seeming curious about his camera.
But the animal soon started becoming more aggressive, using its antlers to try and spar with York and eventually head-butting him. A fellow photographer captured the whole seven-minute ordeal on camera.
“My first thoughts were ‘wow, he’s getting pretty damn close here,'” York told photographer Vince Camiolo in an mail. “But I’ve been up close before without incident. I hoped being still and passive would see him pass on. When he lowered his antlers to me, I wanted to keep my vitals protected and my head down. I felt that standing up would provoke him more and leave me more vulnerable to goring.”
“I think that while protecting myself with my head down, having my head down was a signal that I was rutting with him. I was concerned at first, but when he started rearing back and lunging at me later on, I got scared and pissed off. That’s when I wagged my finger at him to cut that sh** out. I was relieved to see the Ranger coming,” York continued.
Watch Camiolo’s footage of York having to spar with the elk:
If the ranger hadn’t turned up, York said he probably would have tried to disengage himself more from the situation.
“Everyone says I have a hard head,” York told ABC News of the incident. “Well, I am glad I do because it came in handy that day.”