Bull Elk

Visiting Yellowstone a few weeks ago was perfect timing for mating season (rut) for many of the animals, including the elk.  Groups of females (cows) and their youngsters lounged throughout the visitor areas and were used to humans being close by, so it was exciting when we saw a bull guarding his harem of cows in the meadow one morning.

Elk

Bull Elk

Males claim their territory and challenge each other by making a horrible screeching noise called bugling.  The unforgettably creepy bugling is quite haunting and is a sound I will never forget.  If bugling doesn’t scare away the competitors, elk will sometimes show their dominance by fighting with their antlers.  Fun fact:  Bull elk shed their antlers each spring and grow new ones by the time the fall rut begins.