Bull Elk vs Bull Moose: Who’s Winning?

by Jon D. B.
bull-elk-vs-bull-moose-whos-winning

There’s no bigger members of the deer family than moose or elk. The tallest land animal in North America, moose (Alces alces) are tremendous in size and power, making these enormous herbivores an imposing sight. Their immense weight and profile also makes them incredibly dangerous.

The same can be said of North American elk, or wapiti (Cervus canadensis). The largest subspecies of elk is the Roosevelt elk, which can be as long as a moose and nearly as tall. They are truly massive cervids, and their spear-tipped antlers make for deadly combat come The Rut.

During each species’ rutting season, bulls face off for mating rights. The bigger and badder the cervid bull, the more likely they are to procreate a strong, healthy next generation. When elk face off, the lesser bull typically submits before serious injury or death occurs. But not the moose. These bulls will fight to the death, often maiming each other in the process.

But what would happen if these giant relics of the Ice Age faced one another? Is a bull moose’s hulking size enough to fend off the magnificent rack of even the largest elk subspecies, the Roosevelt elk? Let’s take a look.

Roosevelt Elk (Cervus canadensis roosevelti) Bull:North American Moose (Alces alces) Bull:
Max Length: 10 feetMax Height: 10 feet
Max Weight: 1,200 poundsMax Weight: 1,800 pounds
Attributes: 6-foot-wide, spear-tipped antlers, incredible speedAttributes: 6-foot-wide, 40-pound antler rack, immense size
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Photo credit: (Getty Images, Outsider)

In the animal kingdom, size isn’t everything. It often seems to be the case, but a 120-pound cougar can take down a massive 1,000-pound elk all by itself. In turn, the average bull moose weighs 1,200-pounds, whereas the average bull elk weighs around 700-pounds. Both can grow to far larger sizes, but this is the exception – not the rule.

Spear-Tipped Antlers vs Massive Trampling Hooves

In a battle to the death, a bull moose will have a considerable size advantage. And ask anyone who lives in moose country, and they’ll tell you how dangerous moose can be by their size alone. In fact, moose injure more people in North America every year than any other wildlife.

But elk are no slouches by comparison. From a decade’s experience of photographing wild wapiti, I can tell you I shutter every time an ignorant tourists exits their vehicle to approach an elk. All it takes is one charge from the bull to spear a human on their antlers and gore them to death. Elk can run at speeds of 40-60 mph (to a moose’s 20-30 mph) and are incredibly athletic by nature, too, so there’s no chance of every outrunning one.

The moose’s go-to strategy for defense, however, is trampling. If attacked by their natural predators like wolves and bears, moose will lunge with their huge hooves, placing the weight of their 1,000-pound self behind bludgeoning blows that can easily stomp mid-sized predators to death.

Moose use their antlers for defense, too, and bulls use them offensively against one another every year. Their antlers are larger and heavier than an elk’s, too. But they can lack the elk’s signature spear-tipped points until their antlers are fully rutted and formed. But will this be enough to stop the titanic moose bull?

In short: No. Not a chance.

The Winner: Moose Bull Stomps Elk Bull to Death

In any setting of this battle, the elk will survive by running away, as they can vastly outpace a moose. But we’re talking battle to the death, and in this scenario, the moose bull takes the win every single time.

With more weight behind them and unmatched stomping power, all it takes is the moose flipping the elk over with its massive antlers, then stomping the elk. Even if the elk manages to spear the moose with their antlers, the thick musculature of a moose will keep them fighting until a few blows from the moose’s hooves crush the bones and vital organs of an elk, calling this match for good.

Just look at these two bull moose spar and tell me you’re not confident they’d take the cake.

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