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Elk

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Bull Elk chases after the ladies for Wapiti Wednesday

With hormones raging, the Elk rut is in full swing and the males are doing their best to gather up their harems. This particular guy, while a good-sized specimen for sure, was not having much luck.

He was relegated to an area far away from the main herds and was chasing a single cow. Despite his best strutting and bugling, she showed little interest and spurned the overtures.

We sometimes call these creatures Wapiti, a word that comes from the Shawnee and Cree word ‘waapiti’ which means ‘white rump.’ They are one of the largest members of the deer family in North America, second only to Moose.

A massive Elk bull keeps watch for the ladies in Rocky Mountain National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

A massive Elk bull keeps watch for the ladies in Rocky Mountain National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bull Elk engage in pre-rut posturing

One for Wapiti Wednesday that was taken this past Saturday in Rocky Mountain National Park.

The rut is still a few weeks away but you can get a sense that it is getting closer if you watch the behavior of the Elk bulls. This pair and a couple more were hanging out and seemingly getting along (for now) but they did engage in a small hint of what is to come.

The larger one on the right raised his head and closed in on the slightly smaller one, posing a bit of a challenge to it. It never went any further than that but you know the time is coming where these two will do battle for the affections of the ladies.

Two large Elk bulls engage in some pre-rut posturing in Rocky Mountain National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

Two large Elk bulls engage in some pre-rut posturing in Rocky Mountain National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bull Elk poses for Wapiti Wednesday

It’s been a while since I have posted any pics of these guys and even longer since I took a picture of one. This past weekend’s trip though gave me the opportunity to see a lot of them. The herds are all quiet now, enjoying the cool, spring weather. The males are sporting their growing, velvet-covered antlers while the females tend to the calves that were just born. Soon, may will be heading for higher altitudes to escape the heat and bugs. The name Wapiti comes from Native Americans meaning ‘light colored deer.’

An Elk bull poses for pictures in Rocky Mountain National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

An Elk bull poses for pictures in Rocky Mountain National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

Elk bull calls out his challenger

One for Wapiiti Wednesday! Taken back in September at the height of the annual Elk rut. This was the start of one of the most amazing 15 minutes I have ever spent with these creatures. Two bulls, each with their own harem, were at opposite ends of a meadow.

Their close proximity to each other had them uneasy and one simply could not resist challenging the other. Bugling from opposite sides, the combatants slowly worked their way toward a meeting in the middle. Here, one of the two, sounds a warning that he was ready for battle – and indeed he was. They would soon engage in an epic clash unlike any I had ever witnessed. You can see the entire sequence here.

A massive Elk bull bugles to a challenger on the other side of a meadow in Rocky Mountain National Park.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A massive Elk bull bugles to a challenger on the other side of a meadow in Rocky Mountain National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

Dad stops by to say hi

Taking a break from guarding his harem, this massive bull Elk stopped by to check on the most recent generation of the herd. It was a very cute, tender moment as he and the two calves enjoyed a moment of peace from the rut, a dramatic and tension-filled time of year.

We sometimes call these creatures Wapiti, a word that comes from the Shawnee and Cree word ‘waapiti’ which means ‘white rump.’ There are one of the largest members of the deer family in North America, second only to Moose.

Taken on September 16, 2016 in the Moraine Park area of Rocky Mountain National Park.

A bull Elk checks on the calves in his harem in Rocky Mountain National Park.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A bull Elk checks on the calves in his harem in Rocky Mountain National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

Massive Elk bull knocks his rival back, off his feet for Wapiti Wednesday

One of a sequence of images that I still have to pinch myself to believe I captured. While the rest of my crew opted to sleep in, I headed out for a hike on a crisp, high country September morning, lugging my camera along as always. I didn’t have to go far before an action-packed scene began to unfold.

In a nearby meadow, two bulls had gathered their harems, one at each end. Not content with simply keeping the females they had, the bulls opted to challenge each other for control of the groups. An epic battle ensued as the two immense creatures put their heads down, locked antlers and clashed. Here, the larger of the two, pushes back his smaller rival, lifting the smaller one off its back feet as it drove its head toward the ground.

It was an amazing experience, one of my favorite wildlife encounters of all time. You can check out the entire sequence of images from the battle here.

Two bull Elks grapple in front of their harems in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.  (© Tony’s Takes)

Two bull Elks grapple in front of their harems in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Elk bull sounds off for one of his ladies

From one of my favorite wildlife events – the annual Elk rut in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. With the changing of the seasons, fall also brings on mating season for these high country residents. For weeks the males work themselves into a frenzy, gathering up all the females they can into harems and then fighting to control their ladies and earn the right to mate with them. With hormones raging, the bulls bugle to call the females and to ward off any potential challengers.

On this morning back in September, this bull had gathered a harem of about 15 cows. A second bull in the area though was threatening and this first bull was doing his best to ensure he left them alone.

A massive bull Elk bugles toward one of the members of his harem. (© Tony’s Takes)

A massive bull Elk bugles toward one of the members of his harem. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bull Elk bugles with his mouth full

Certainly we are told to not talk when you have a mouth full of food but for a Elk bull during the rut when his hormones are raging the infraction might be forgiven. 😉

This big guy found himself without any ladies on the morning of October 2nd. He however was not giving up on the opportunity to pass his genes on. One of his rivals had a nice size harem near by and this guy was keeping close watch, making lots of noise, just waiting for the opportunity to steal away some of the cows.

Taken in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

A bull Elk calls to a nearby harem, trying to entice them to come over. (© Tony’s Takes)

A bull Elk calls to a nearby harem, trying to entice them to come over. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bull Elk enjoys the bachelor life at high altitude

Well, he may not be enjoying being a bachelor but this big guy found himself alone and without a harem. He was hanging out in the rarified air near the top of Trail Ridge Road which reaches an altitude of 12,183 feet. There were actually three bulls up there, one did have a nice little harem of a half dozen ladies all to himself.

The annual rut is winding down now and it is showing on the males. It was clear that they were far less active than in recent weeks and seemed to be less likely to challenge other bulls.

An Elk bull in some beautiful early morning light at high altitude.  (© Tony’s Takes)

An Elk bull in some beautiful early morning light at high altitude. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bull Elk shows the little ones how to do it

While there were no battles on the evening I took this image, it was certainly obvious the Elk rut was in full swing. This bull had gathered himself 30 or so cows and calves in the Moraine Park area of Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. He was unchallenged and made lots of noise to make sure it stayed that way. Here he stands over two calves as he bugles, perhaps teaching them how to be top dogs themselves in the future. 😉

A bull Elk bugles as two calves look on in Moraine Park.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A bull Elk bugles as two calves look on in Moraine Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

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