Firefighter John McColgan “just happened to be in the right place at the right time” to take this photo on Aug. 6, 2000, while fighting a 100,000-acre blaze in Montana’s Bitterroot National Forest.
He was standing on a bridge over the East Fork of the Bitterroot River, and shot the photo with a Kodak DC280 digital camera.
The elk were gathering at the river, he says. “They know where to go, where their safe zones are. A lot of wildlife did get driven down there to the river. There were some bighorn sheep there. A small deer was standing right underneath me, under the bridge.”