HomeOutdoorsRocky Mountain National Park’s Most Photographed Bull Elk Known as ‘Kahuna’ Dies

Rocky Mountain National Park’s Most Photographed Bull Elk Known as ‘Kahuna’ Dies

by Chase Thomas
(Photo By Steve Nehf/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Rocky Mountain National Park is home to all kinds of wonderful animals, including the bull elk. It’s a must-see destination for any folks that have not already made the trek out to the midwest to feast their eyes on the beauty that is the Rockies. One of the most popular animals for folks to snap a picture of was a specific bull elk in the park. Unfortunately, that bull elk, known as “Kahuna,” passed away.

Bull Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park

Kahuna had a great run, making it to 10-years-old, experts of the region estimate. The National Park Service’s Kyle Patterson told NBC News, “His cause of death is unknown. He could have died from natural causes or been preyed on by a mountain lion.” He said, “He got hurt during the rut this past year from another bull.” Nobody knows for sure.

Patterson added, “‘The public should always be cautious around carcasses (elk, deer, moose, bighorn sheep) in Rocky Mountain National Park, because mountain lions could be nearby.” The reason that folks may never know what ultimately took down the elk is that when he was discovered the scene was a mess. The carcass may have ravaged what looked to be mountain lions. Nobody knows for certain. Folks may never know. It could have been the mountain lions or it could have just passed away peacefully. It’s hard to say for certain.

The folks who found him, Loren Schrag and Alli Schrag, were quite familiar with this particular bull elk. They had photographed for years. They knew so much about him and what made him stick out in the wilderness.

The Passing of Kahuna

They wrote in a beautiful Facebook post, “We’re sad to announce the passing of perhaps the most iconic elk in history. Bruno, aka Kahuna, aka Incredibull was last seen alive on 3/7 by ourselves and @acsnaturephotography – then a storm rolled in and we lost his location. Many miles hiked between ourselves and Andrew and we made the unfortunate discovery – Bruno had likely been taken down by a mountain lion with tracks surrounding the area he was found.”

It was bittersweet for them all. They loved the bull elk, but they were also sad about finding his remains in the park. Kahuna was undoubtedly a very different kind of bull elk, and his unique antlers set him apart. He was a joy for so many to photograph and spot in the wild. The community will miss him. He was so special to the Rocky Mountain National Park community for everyone who saw him over the years. He was a different-looking bull elk. It’s what made him so special for the folks lucky enough to see him.