Record Quest: Get Aggressive to Get Your Bull

We can talk about my cool ninja pajamas in another installment, but in this clip there is a behind-the-scenes catastrophe I want to bring to your attention.

The whole point of this clip is in the first sentence. Most of us think we have to tiptoe around elk, afraid to snap a twig or give away our location. But elk are loud, brash critters, and sometimes you can calm them down by sounding just like them.

As I say, and demonstrate, in this clip, confidence "calling" for elk means making a commotion. If a bull is raking a tree with his antlers, you can sometimes unlock him by raking a tree yourself with a stout branch. Around water, slapping the surface with a stick can sound like a whole herd of elk crossing a stream.

And sometimes--here's where the catastrophe occurred--rolling a rock can sound like a particularly amped-up bull pawing the ground.

When you're dealing with cameramen, especially ones as talented as Troy Batzler, who directed these Record Quest clips, you have to obey their commandments about light and set-ups. Which is why I found myself on a steep, crumbly creek bank, trying to keep my balance while Troy fiddled with his camera and tried to get the right angle.

Finally, he shouted up to me that he had the frame he wanted. "Rolling," he said, which I thought was his command to roll the head-sized rock I had selected. Turns out he meant that his camera was rolling. I unleashed the rock. Troy, his head stuck in the camera's viewfinder, had no idea 20 pounds of free-falling granite was headed his way. It took out one leg of his tripod and dang near tipped him over.

"Cut!" he shouted. I think he was referring to his foot.