It’s rutting season for the moose and elk of Grand Teton National Park, which means frequent sparring matches between the bulls of the species. Unlike actual fights between males, sparring is merely a contest of dominance. Bulls will lock antlers, pushing and shoving each other to determine which is more worthy of a female.
The goal of these brawls isn’t to cause serious injury, let alone death, to the opposing bull. They’re far from gentle, however, and injuries aren’t at all uncommon. Because of this, they can be truly thrilling battles.
With that in mind, it’s understandable that this bull elk would stop to watch the fight. Who could resist the allure of a wrestling match between two 1,000-pound competitors?
Luckily for us, outdoor enthusiast Derek Yoder caught the whole thing on film for the rest of us to enjoy as well. “When the moose start sparing, the whole forest stops to watch the match!” he wrote in the caption of the enthralling Instagram post. “Such an awesome opportunity to film this encounter with [Courtney Brooke, his wife].”
Outdoorsman Reveals Winner of Epic Bull Moose Battle
The adventurous couple are no strangers to the great outdoors. Courtney Brooke is a professional wildlife photographer and Derek Yoder is currently eleven hikes deep into his quest to summit all 58 of Colorado’s famous 14ers (mountains whose peaks reach 14,000 feet in elevation or more).
This trip to Grand Teton was particularly action-packed, however, as they not only experienced a bull moose rut but a black bear in hyperphagia as well. In the fall, bears eat 10 times the calories they normally consume in an effort to develop enough fat to get them through the brutal winter months.
While the bull elk watched the moose match with interest, the black bear couldn’t have been less interested. Why waste time on a moose contest when there are delicious berries to munch?
In a subsequent interview with Field and Stream, Derek Yoder gave further insight into the gripping scene. “It was very exciting capturing this elk spectating the bout. I thought, ‘I can’t believe I’m getting this,'” the outdoorsman explained. “We both felt very lucky to be there at that time.”
“I’m not really sure you could call a winner [of the battle],” he continued. “There was a cow nearby but it was very early in the rut and more of a sparing than a fight. While this was happening, there was a cinnamon black bear eating berries about 50 yards behind us, so we turned to capture that once the bulls ran into the trees.”