From our lodge just beneath the northern reaches of the boreal forest, we boarded our helicopter and headed north.
From the old growth forest we watched as the autumn colours exploded below us as we entered the barren lands in Nunavut. Oranges, reds and yellows carved into the rolling tundra, framing the thousands of blue lakes.
Then, the realization hits you that the lines below us in the tundra are not cracks.... they are permanently etched caribou trails that we have been following from the air. These trails have been used for centuries by the caribou on their annual migration. And yet, they seemed to be serving as our road map as we flew farther north towards our destination.
Along the eskers, over glacial formed kettle ponds we flew. We passed over small herds of caribou and landscapes that could only be matched by the ones we’ve seen in magazines or a BBC documentary.
But today, there was no time for true photographic appreciation of the tundra and caribou. We were on a mission. Reports of a small herd of musk ox had come in, and the opportunity to photograph this prehistoric animal was too compelling to pass up.
As the previous minutes of helicopter time in optimal daylight clicked away, these creatures seemed to be more elusive to me now that I was actually here in their roaming area.
Then we spotted them. Two wide bodied animals were there in front of us on the side of an esker. It was two Musk Ox that were alone. An animal sighting that I’ve waited so long for, became a reality.
We circled back so we did not spook them too much. Then landed our helicopter a mile down wind, grabbed our cameras and started walking in the direction that would hopefully put us in position for a great photo opportunity.
Using bushes and old dried river beds as cover, we snaked our way closer to where we saw the two Musk Ox tracking towards.
As we peered over bushes at the edge of a creek bed, there they were. Two large bull Musk Oxen walking and grazing in the autumn colours
It’s hard for me to believe sometimes that this is my job. I’ve been around the globe, photographed some amazing people, places and animals ... but the Musk Oxen has been a species I’ve always wanted to see in peak autumn colours in Canada’s Arctic region.
Mission accomplished, photo bucket list item “CHECK”.
That morning we had two amazing encounters with these two bulls as they grazed and continued their movement north.
If Musk Ox are a species you want the chance to see, or migratory Caribou, Wolverine, grizzly bear, black bear, or even some amazing northern lights, then I’ve got a location in Canada’s Arctic region you should consider joining me at in 2019.
All the details can be found here... https://muenchworkshops.com/workshops/canadian-caribou-migration-photo-workshop
I hope to see you next September.