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Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Drama of the Elk Rut - including a Bull Elk Bugle

A couple of weeks ago, we headed out to see the elk rut - a spectacle in parks and along roads in our area in September and October. The drive is gorgeous every year with golden aspen lighting up the landscape.

As we drove further north, we began to see elk in action. This was a bull elk with his harem of cow elk and calves around him.

Despite the lack of competition (other bull elk), he was very attentive to his harem. Look to the far left of the photo and you'll see a calf nursing from his mother. It's an odd time of year with calves still dependent on their mothers but the rut takes place anyway.

Our next stop was for a vociferous bull elk who was very upset about a young bull with "spike" antlers who had taken one of his ladies.

The bull elk bugled incessantly while chasing around the rest of his harem. He's wet from wallowing in a mud puddle that books say he probably urinated in. Yuck - but I guess the cow elk like it!

Here's a very short video that I took of this bull elk bugling. It's amazing what a high pitched sound is made by such a huge elk!

Despite the bull's best efforts, he never got his wayward cow elk back again. The big bull could scare off the young bull but the female kept choosing the young bull over him. The big bull looked toward them in disbelief.

It was a super fun day of watching elk and all the dramas of elk life!
After the rut, the elk come to our neck of the woods to spend the winter. We already have a few here but the bulk of the herd is still on their way.


  1. They sure are most impressive and I'd hate to meet those antlers head on!

  2. Wow, those elk are really massive!!! And oh those antlers!!!

  3. Mother Nature is quite amazing!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  4. They sure are amazing animals.
    I can't imagine seeing one close up
    they must be massive in size, especially with antlers.

    xo Astro.

  5. Imagine all that on your head for most of the year!!! What a magnificent animal, and his bugle, I thought for the size he would have a very deep bellow. Superb photos, as always.

  6. That was so cool. I loved seeing video of the bull elk. He is very impressive. Great work

  7. SO very beautiful! Hey, Otto likes to roll in dead stuff. Not much different than a urine-scented cologne!

    1. Yes - Otto is very similar to this big bull! Actually, all of our dogs are! (the stuff they want to roll in - yuck, yuck, yuck).

  8. OMD, how dramatic!!! It's like an episode of Scandal! I wish I could roll around in yucky stuffs! I have to admit, I'm kinda jealous....Ma always has me on a string when good stuff like that presents itself. Just this week, there was a pawfectly good dead tree rat I wanted to roll on, butts Ma said...NO! killjoy.
    Ruby ♥

  9. My son and family live at the edge of the elk preserve in Evergreen. The elk often wander into their yard. What a rack that male in your photos has!

  10. That is a high pitch for such a large animal!

  11. I love these guys. To hear them bugle is something else.

  12. I have never heard an elk bugle. That was amazing.

  13. Oh is amazing to hear such a high pitch bugle from such a big majestic (and most likely stinky :-)
    animal! We do have bunches of elk in our area, but I've never seen them in rutting season...I may have to take a ride this week!

  14. It is always surprising to hear that sound come from that animal! Great pictures - thanks for sharing :)

  15. Absolutely the best music in the world! Thank you for sharing that and your joyous, glorious autumn photos! I haven't had a chance to trek up into the mountains yet this fall, and you've soothed the yearning in my heart!


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