With fall quickly approaching, rut season for Elk is here and with their hormones raging, battles between the males are getting more intense. I was extremely fortunate to witness one duel and better yet, get pictures of it.
Two bulls had their harems gathered at opposite ends of a small meadow and while you would think they would be content with what they had, one was not. He started approaching the other group which enraged the second bull. They met in the middle of the meadow, initially circling at a distance, clearly sizing each other up.
Slowly they approached each other, raising their heads to the other, keeping close watch. Suddenly, their heads went down and they charged! Back and forth they shoved, swinging their massive antlers trying to stab their opponent and push them down. Dirt was flying and the sound of the clash added an audio component that really helped drive home the point that these are massive, powerful animals.
For a time, it looked like it would be a draw but the bigger, second Elk fended off the challenger, chasing him away. Adding insult to injury, he took the other bull’s harem of 20 or so cows and added it to his own leaving the challenger with nothing for all of his work. I cannot begin to describe how exciting it was to witness this.
While I have seen Elk challenge each other, those never resulted in any actual physical contact. I had never witnessed a fight like this one and still get giddy when I think about it. So much fun!
Taken in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Scroll down to view the complete battle series.