The Lynx Fight

The first three words I blurted out were swear words.  Which is fine if one is not in the middle of chatting on a walkie-talkie radio with paying clients on a photography tour.  But I was….

And not only did I swear on the radio in front of paying clients, but I did so with a tremendous amount of gusto and volume.  It was high-pitched, it was even feverish.

Thankfully, none of my clients remember a thing about me reciting several of the most commonly used words in the English language into the radio.  I guess that’s what happens when you’re driving along and suddenly come upon a couple of lynx on the side of the road.

You know…just a couple of lynx. Nothing major, right?

And now let me provide a little insight into what goes on a professional wildlife photographer’s mind when a couple of lynx are encountered on the side of the road:

What the wow get your window down no open the door no stop the car park pull over sh%t no time please please stay there grab camera open door no window down no door theyre crossing the road mother of pearl change aperture focus oh my gosh theyre gonna fight get both in should i change lenses no do it no concentrate stop shaking get both in wow theyre gonna fight get both in get both in GET BOTH IN!!!!

So that was what happened in the first half second or so.  Haha!  Note that I did not think even once of what exactly my clients were doing or if they were even getting shots (ulp, forgive me John, Kim, and Don!).

In all, the photo experience was probably two minutes worth of lynx, though it seemed like an hour in comparison to the rest of my lynx encounters over the years.  This time I actually had time to think (sort of) and managed to get my breathing and shaking under control (though it took me most of the two minutes to do so!).

I’ll never be sure, but I think the two big males were squaring off in what was either a fight over a lady or a territorial dispute.  For much of the encounter it looked like they would fight right there in front of us, but instead they wandered back into the bush where we could hear them screaming and howling at each other (at one point we attempted to follow them in, but the snow was too deep). I don’t know if they actually fought, but it sure sounded like they did!

The first male hustles across the road right between our cars, I shot this with a 500mm hand-held out of my car door


As the first male walked up onto the snowbank opposite us, it became obvious that he was pretty ticked at the other male!

At this point he was visibly upset and was hissing loudly as the other male approached him

Still shooting with my 500mm, the first male changed his body position and continued to stare down the male below him

Getting very aggressive now, feet splayed out, scowling and hissing!

Face-to-face hissing away at each other!

Taking a swipe with his front right paw

Head-to-head making a bunch of angry noise!
Walking away into the trees, two minutes after we first spotted them

Thanks for looking everyone, let me know which ones are your faves in the ‘Comments’ below.  Happy shooting!


25 Comments on “The Lynx Fight

Andrea Rahtz
March 14, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Amazing shots! I really like the picture of the Lynx with its feet flared out. So cool to see one up close, thanks for bringing the experience into my home!

March 14, 2013 at 10:37 pm

5th pic…he's showing his true nature…. paws splayed…eyes wide open …mouth open showing his teeth…ears held back…standing a little taller with his coat fluffed up…and I bet his tail was held up a little higher…I can just imagine the sounds that filled the air.If it was a movie you'd be on the edge of your seat with your eyes wide open gasping for air.But it wasn't it was live and your heart was beating a mile a minute trying to catch your breath as you shook. Thanks for sharing…lucky you!

Cory Lievers
March 14, 2013 at 10:37 pm

Yes, really great shots.

March 14, 2013 at 10:42 pm

The mind racing faster than the body paragraph was funny and so true! They are all wonderful but I like the second last one the best – it looks like they are really going to get into it.

Jennifer Rutledge
March 14, 2013 at 11:11 pm

Wow John those pictures are amazing, what an incredible experience! Its hard to pic a favorite but I'd have to go with #4, paws splayed, head down, those eyes are amazing! Stunning work!

March 15, 2013 at 12:26 am

Four and eight are my favs, but they're all gorgeous. Great shooting! I would have been shaking so bad they would have probably all been blurry.

Nathalie Fortier
March 15, 2013 at 12:27 am

Oh John, I thought after a few years, I would stop doing that. You have crushed my hopes. S….F…. open the door, roll down the window , stop shaking…. breathe… you crack me up.

Awesome shots as usual!

Michael Sonea
March 15, 2013 at 5:22 am

What no snowshoes??? Really John!

March 15, 2013 at 5:22 am

Love them all, but being a wordsmith as well as a photographer, I REALLY laughed out loud at your rendering of what passed through your mind in that 1st 1/2 second. I know just what you mean!

Royce Howland
March 15, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Wow, just gob-smacking wow, John! My faves are #2, #5 and #8. Such a good opportunity with one of these guys would be amazing, getting 2 of them with fierce interaction would be surreal! I'm getting a bit of an adrenaline rush just sitting here reading your words and looking at the visual take from the encounter. 🙂

Very, very cool…

March 15, 2013 at 9:41 pm

I love them all!

But if I had to choose – I Like #1 for the movement in the limbs as it walks across the road, #4 for the splayed toes and expression on its face, and the last one – you can almost 'hear' it thinking (to personify the animal) "Follow me at your own risk!"

They have such expressive faces. What size of an animal are they? It's hard to tell from the shots.

Brilliant job! And thank you for sharing with us.

March 15, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Well John, firstly, you have a fabulous way with words! I could feel my excitement levels rising as I read!! You set the scene extremely well! Congrats on that!! I would have been sh#t scared!!
As for the fantastic series of photos you took, my favourite is number 5. It is extremely clear and shows the aggression that was there!
Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

March 15, 2013 at 9:42 pm

Hey John

Cool stuff for sure. #5 and the second last. Nice clean backgrounds.

March 16, 2013 at 1:27 am

I keep coming back to look at them again and again – I don't think I have a favourte – your "main" character reminds me of my cat (now long gone) that had a lynx-like coat and tufted ears – and when he got angry, he looked like that!
Wonderful photos – I can only hope that maybe I'll at least see one some day.
I met a pair in Manitoba, south of Flin Flon and have a photo of each – one even not too bad, considering my equipment at the time – and slow film.
I hope you like the lynx episode that came in the Can Geo newsletter that I forwarded..

Robert C Paulson Jr
March 17, 2013 at 12:23 am

Great shots and great fun. Wish I had been there.
Congratulations on getting the chance.
Bob Paulson

March 18, 2013 at 3:58 am

Oh my they are so beautiful, to see something like that ~~ so rare, thank you for sharing….I like all the photos.

March 18, 2013 at 3:59 am

Wonderful pictures capturing the moment. Very exciting. Great story. All the pictures are wonderful. Thank you for sharing. R.

March 19, 2013 at 12:50 am

Fabulous! My favorite is the first male changing body position and staring down the other.

March 19, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Great series and it's a very rare encounter !
Thanks for sharing.

Nicolas Dory
March 21, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Hi John,
That's an awesome encounter you had there, amazing pictures!

April 2, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Absolutely beautiful!

Professional Pictures
April 6, 2013 at 4:36 pm

it's my first time see this animal. dont have it in my country. great photos 🙂

April 18, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Hi John; Some great shots there, but the last two are the ones the grip feelings in me – the second last one as the second male appears to relinguish to the whims of the first male – – and in the last one the first male is walking off satisfied that he succeeded in making his wishes top fact.

Millie Jonsson
April 24, 2013 at 9:33 pm

John, these are the most amazing wildlife photographs I've ever seen, albeit not an easy shoot for you! Your talent is incredible and it's so nice that you can share these with the world! Thank you! Millie Jonsson

June 8, 2013 at 11:18 pm

ok my first question is were you carrying lucky horse shoes on this day LOL
you have such amazing luck , I would love to see a Lynx up close in the wild
these are amazing images John , it sounds like you were beyond excited 🙂
Great job.
can't wait to catch up with you soon
Steve Woods


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