Elk populations across America have been enjoying the annual rut for weeks, meaning bull elk have become extremely aggressive, territorial, and unpredictable in their search for potential mates. Given that fact, we encourage Outsiders to keep—and even increase—their usual safe distance from these animals while visiting our nation’s national parks. At the very least, try not to do what this Grand Canyon National Park touron (“tourist” + “moron”) did below.
The clip above captures an overly curious Grand Canyon tourist getting much too close to a rutting bull elk in an attempt to capture some memorable photos. However, as we see in the clip, it’s his experience physically taking those photos that will be more memorable than anything. Stepping within feet of the massive creature, the tourist begins snapping photos of the elk, coming within feet of its lethal antlers.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an elk’s antlers can achieve a length and spread of four feet, with its points measuring as long as seven or eight inches each. The service states each antler can weigh as much as 20 pounds.
So, when the ticked-off bull elk dropped its massive head and charged the curious touron the first time, you’d think he’d get the hint—step away from the angry elk. As we see though, that’s apparently not the message the photographer received. Instead, he stepped closer to the elk, continuing to pester the already-annoyed animal.
Viewers ripped the photographer in the comments.
“Tempting fate,” one viewer wrote. A second commented, “Anyone out there get secretly disappointed the tourons don’t get mangled in these videos? Asking for a friend.”
One other elk empathizer said, “Man leave the animals alone.”
Rutting Elk Go Horn to Horn in Brutal Face-Off
Fortunately for John, the careless photographer seen in the clip above, the elk nearing his campsite didn’t appear to be in a fighting mood. Instead, the irritated bull just wanted to scare off the wanna-be wildlife photographer. However, another viral video shows two different bulls facing off against each other as a herd of female elk grazes nearby. And the fight is pretty brutal.
The fight begins much like two humans in a boxing match. The first few seconds capture the male elk circling each other before one of them drops his head in a challenge. The second elk, unhesitating, commits to the challenge and locks his antlers with the opposing bull.
“I told you they’d end up fighting,” one excited observer says to the cameraman.
Things get intense as the pair of bulls kick up the dirt around their hooves and it almost looks as though one of the animal’s spikes snaps off the rack. Eventually, one of the males cedes and takes off across the plain, the other chasing it out of the camera’s frame.