PHOTO: Utah Bull Elk Appears To Have Broken Antler Coming Out of His Eye

by Shelby Scott
(Photo by: Peter Zenkl/VWPics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

As humans, we might like to think of ourselves as the superior species. However, the following Instagram post proves there is at least one creature out there much heartier than we are. The photo below shows a Utah bull elk with what appears to be a broken antler protruding from its eye.

Outdoor Life reports that the bull elk was originally photographed by wildlife photographer Peggy Peregrine-Spear on October 9th. At the time, viewers believed the animal actually had the tine of an antler growing from beneath its eye socket. Interestingly, as unusual as that sounds, an Ohio hunter bagged a male deer with just that kind of abnormality.

Several days after originally capturing the photo of the elk, though, the ugly truth came out. Newer images show that a large piece of an antler, whether from this buck or another, really did pierce its skull. Now, the antler seems to gradually be working its way out beneath the animal’s eye.

How Does an Animal Survive This Kind of Injury?

Peregrine-Spear wrote on Instagram, “Here is an update on this bull. It appears that the antler is working it’s way out below his eye, but you can still see the broken edge of the broken antler embedded in the top of his head. His body condition is still good.”

Even more surprising, “There does not appear to be any discharge or much swelling, and he seems to be moving around fine, and he still has the energy to bugle.”

That being said, she did observe that the injured bull elk is eating less than expected. He also makes repetitive tongue movements, suggesting that there might be discharge somewhere in the nasal cavity. A second wildlife photographer commented on Peregrine-Spear’s post, suggesting the reason that there is so little evidence of distress is that the broken antler is only stuck beneath the animal’s skin and didn’t actually penetrate the skull or nasal cavity.

In a way this makes sense because, if we think of the antler like a massive splinter—things that typically work their way out from beneath the surface of our skin over time—the elk’s daily habits should remain relatively unhindered.

Shocking Bull Elk Photo Draws Diverse Reactions Online

As gory as the elk’s injury appears to be, we’re glad to see the antler is slowly and, apparently safely, making its way out of the animal’s skull. Still, given that the antler could have potentially pierced the elk’s brain, viewers have shared drastically different reactions to the photo online.

Following Peregrine-Spear’s latest account of the animal, one viewer said, “Woof! So weird, but definitely looks longer than last time! Glad it’ll get outta there eventually!”

Another individual commented, “Mother nature is brutal and animals are so resilient!”

A third viewer more lightheartedly joked, “Does that count as a point?”

One other Instagram user responded, “asking the important question!”