Once a week for the past two years, retired Topeka resident Dan Byl, 63, has made the trek down a steep hill in his backyard near N.W. MacVicar and Interstate 70 to check his trail camera.
The area, a veritable haven for wildlife, has produced many memorable images — white-tailed deer fawns being nursed by their mother, a fox standing stoically on a large rock, a coyote walking through deep snow. However, one day this month — Oct. 7 — produced a pair of images that he will never forget.
While going through his memory card that week on his computer, something unusual stood out to him. No, it wasn’t the nice buck grazing on forage or the neighborhood children who stopped to pose for the camera. Two images — taken 80 seconds apart — of a large, oddly colored, antlered animal drew his attention.
At first, he jokingly told people he had an elk in his backyard. Surely, it couldn’t have been an elk. The nearest elk herd was 60 miles away at Fort Riley, so why would an elk be in Topeka?