It’s almost elk rut season, Outsiders, a time when we remind stupid people who play stupid games that they’ll win stupid prizes.
Choosing to approach a massive wild animal truly comes from a place of ignorance. I don’t mean “ignorance” in the malicious sense, either. I mean it by the true definition: “A lack of knowledge or information.”
The type of person who is ignorant enough to walk directly up to a 7-foo-tall bull elk sporting a 6-foot rack of spear-tipped antlers has never shared an environment with one before. At all. Ever. They’ve never read about these animals, how aggressive they can be when provoked, or how easy it is to meet your end after being gored.
Or, as wildlife photographer Kendra Neef puts it, “Im just here to remind you that Bull Elk are incredibly unpredictable and aggressive at this time of year. Stay in your car and never approach them.”
This, of course, is the opposite of what this ignorant tourist did a while back, as you’ll watch below. But with the rut right around the corner, it’s a message that’s always worth repeating:
This bull is a prime specimen. With a full rack at his disposal, he’s ready to battle other bulls – sometimes to the death – over mating rights. And during the rut, these mating rights are the ultimate prize worth fighting to the death over.
An Elk’s Full Power is On Display During The Rut
For North American elk, or wapiti, the rut is mid-September through mid-October. But bulls can display rutting as early as August. This encounter taking place in August may be the only reason the tourist lived to walk away, too; as the bull may not have been in full-rut mode yet.
As elk mate during these rut months, bulls can become particularly aggressive towards anything and everything they deem a threat. Which is, of course, going to be a tourist walking directly for them.
Elk in rut also behave this way towards one another because they are a threat to one another’s reproductive rights. Or, every bull is direct competition for mating. Yet no matter the size or aggression they’re capable of, people cannot seem to get enough – or close enough – to megafauna. This exact scenario caused no less than three bison gorings in Yellowstone National Park in a month’s time so far this summer.
As Outsiders know, wildlife is to be respected as what they are: wild. Because when we don’t, bad things will happen; for both humans and the wild.
Always keep your distance from elk and other wildlife, during the rut or any time of year. And if you see someone doing what this ignorant fellow insisted on, be sure to alert a park ranger or local authorities immediately. It could save their life – and that of the animal.