On an unseasonably warm day, these Elk bulls and about a half dozen of their buddies were lounging around in the West Horseshoe Park area of Rocky Mountain National Park. While they were here Saturday, most of the females I saw were in Moraine Park or migrating toward it. With the rut five months away, the boys clearly weren’t too concerned about what the ladies were up to.?
If you were this big guy and had been furiously guarding your harem of 15 or so cows from a few other bulls, you would be thirsty too. Taken in Rocky Mountain National Park’s Moraine Park area, this bull had lost a few females to other suitors but was overall doing a good job keeping the group together. After fending off a younger bull that tried to siphon some off, he took a break just long enough to grab a quick drink from the creek.
The annual rut is an extraordinary event and if you ever get a chance to see it, I would highly recommend it. Taken September 20, 2015.
Entering full maturity and with hormones raging, this junior bull tries to decide if he dare challenge one of the area elders for a harem. Watching the interaction between the two was a lot of fun.
The senior bull had gathered 10 cows and was jealously guarding them against the interloper, bugling and huffing having worked himself up into a frenzy. While the young one looks somewhat impressive, he was nothing compared to the older bull and after a while, seemed to recognize an outright challenge would not be wise.
Instead, he lurked in a nearby stand of trees, waiting for one of the cows to wander and hoping he could siphon her off without a straight-on challenge of the big boy. That never did happen while I was watching as the massive old bull was far too wise.
Taken in the Moraine Park area of Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, September 20, 2015.
Somehow I never posted this image but yet it is my favorite from this past fall’s elk rut. Taken in Rocky Mountain National Park at the end of September. This massive bull elk had a harem of eight cows but was feeling the pressure from two other bulls nearby. He kept circling the ladies and sounded constant warnings to the interlopers that he was prepared to defend their honor.
Taken at the end of September at the height of the rut, this big guy was running himself frantic keeping his harem together. At one point he suddenly stopped and cast a menacing look at my son and I.
After sticking his nose up in the air as if trying to smell us, he seemed to determine we weren’t a threat and went back to chasing the girls. It was a bit of a nervous moment for us although we were a good distance away and up a steep slope. I love the look on his face and the frantic look in his eyes in this image.
The early morning sun made for some nice light too. Taken in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.
Few people are happy to see Monday come along and some wildlife might even agree. This young elk stuck its tongue out at me and I am choosing to use it to demonstrate thoughts of the first work day of the week. However, it could be that the little one was just being a bit ornery and didn’t care for having its picture taken. 😉 Have a great week!
This was a lot of fun to watch. This calf was wading in a pond when a duck arrived to go for a swim. The little guy (or gal) was quite fascinated by the feathered creature and waded in further to try to get a sniff. The duck however didn’t care too much for the large, furry mammal and swam off leaving the calf without a friend.
Taken in Horseshoe Park in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. ?
If you had to pick a single sound for the month of September in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, it most likely would be the bugle of Elk bulls. By the end of the month the rut is in full swing and the bulls are gathering their harems and protecting them at all costs.
The distinctive bugle of a bull can communicate a number of different messages including letting his harem know he is around, letting the cows know they are straying too far and making him unhappy or warning other bulls to keep their distance.
In the case of this series of pictures, this bull was making sure that two other bulls nearby knew he was standing guard over the ladies. He would race from one side of the harem to the other, sounding his warning as he went.
The Elk rut is in full swing and the bulls are working feverishly to gather their harem – and keep them together. This big guy had about 12 cows he had accumulated. However, a younger bull and another bull of similar size / age were encroaching and he was not a happy camper about it at all. Here he moves quickly to head off one of the interlopers. Taken this morning in the Moraine Park area of Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.
These two bulls appeared to be getting an early start on the rut as they sized each other up. The smaller one on the left would come up, raise its head and crowd the other. The big guy was of course not intimidated one bit and stood its ground. After a few times of this, the younger one decided he might be wiser picking on someone his own size.
Taken in Rocky Mountain National Park on August 7.