A North Carolina photographer found himself getting up close and personal with one of his subjects on a recent trip through the Great Smoky Mountains.
James York was taking pictures of elk in Cataloochee Valley when one of the animals on whom he had trained his lens objected to the intrusion. Or he was camera shy. Or he was just, you know, being an animal in the wild.
The elk approached York peacefully but then began to nuzzle the photograher's head, which he kept down while he was repeatedly rammed by the animal.
"He was prancing and digging his hooves in the ground and then bouncing back and forth and lowering his horns down and coming at me fairly aggressively" York told reporters.
"I'm thinking, 'Don't show him fear.'"
Vince Camiolo, another photographer in the park that day, caught York's 7-minute encounter with the elk on film. While York is unscathed and amazed by the incident, it's probably safe to say those were not 7 minutes in Heaven.
While being nuzzled by the elk, York continued to take photographs and caught some stunning images of the wild animal.
After about 5 minutes, York slowly stood up and began to back away from the elk. He got into the car of parked SUV, leaving his camera bag behind, and the driver of that car drove slowly toward the elk to move the animal back gently.
York jumped out and grabbed his camera bag and went on to photograph another day.
"Everyone says I have a hard head," York said. "Well, I'm glad I do because it came in handy that day."