The Bison Rut King | Plains Bison Photography

by on August 3, 2013

The bison rut king of 2012 …

Alberta wildlife, Plains bison bull during the annual bison rut at Elk Island National Park has an intense stare at those in his surroundings.


With the bison rut in full swing, I’ll be spending every spare moment photographing and documenting this fascinating time for the next few weeks. It’s a critical time for any species, but especially for an extirpated species, such as the Alberta plains bison, and it’s also critical for the conservation efforts that start here in Alberta and are carried out in other parts of the world. I’ve been going through notes and images, looking at what I have done right and wrong in the past when shooting the rut. I’m really hoping to accomplish a few things this time, as my focus has shifted somewhat, so it’s going to take hard work, amazing timing and a good deal of luck from nature to pull this off. Whether I do or don’t this season, it’s still just incredible to be out there amongst one of the most unbelievably cool species on earth.

As I was searching through older bison images and flagging them, I came across this one. I had not marked it for editing, but I also didn’t mark it for reference. It wasn’t sharp enough for a regular print, but it was clear I had kept it for a behavioural reference and just didn’t label it as such. Looking at this plains bison bull and his expression, I just thought it was a perfect representation of what I’ve seen of the annual bison rut from the perspective of a bull bison. They are highly hormonal, hungry, exhausted, stressed and have one thing on their minds — to mate.

A quick romp with the ol’ edit-cruncher, Silver Efex Pro 2, and a bit of tweaking and I came up with this bad boy.

You can always check out more of my plains bison photography. I have more to post over time … stay tuned!


See you in the field!

2014-2016 update: this image has since been printed several times in different sizes on cotton rag, metallic and regular paper and looks bloody fantastic! I love to be proven wrong about things like this. 


Photographer. Podcaster on hiatus. Wildlife conservation and animal welfare advocate. Edmonton Oilers lovah. Cinematic Star Wars fan. The fifth Golden Girl. Fond of all things Johnny Cash. 

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