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Rutting Elk in the Bow Valley

Bull Elk Rutting in Banff National Park - © Christopher Martin-1946

A small herd of bull elk were gathered near Moose Meadows on the Bow Valley Parkway when I was there on the weekend.  The frost bleached the grass and the cold air made the breath visible.

Bull Elk Rutting - © Christopher Martin-1945

These were mature adults with massive antlers and they were putting them to use.  The rut is on and these elk were challenging each other repeatedly.

Bull Elk Rutting - © Christopher Martin-1896

They would be eating grass and then stare at another one.  Soon after, they would stalk slowly towards each other and lock antlers. Once entwined, a push and a pull fight would take place.  Unlike Bighorn sheep battles where they smash into each other, these were shoving matches.

Bull Elk Rutting - © Christopher Martin-1929

It was a cold morning which made for a particularly appealing scene to watch these giants battle.  The elk below was noticeably larger than the others and only one bull challenged him in the half hour that I watched.  That contest seemed like more of a measuring stick for the smaller one as it was short and there was no real challenge.

Bull Elk Rutting - © Christopher Martin-2063

He wandered off after a while heading for the trees and leaving the others to graze and continue the odd skirmish.

Bull Elk Rutting - © Christopher Martin-2087

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8 responses

  1. franciscocamacho2016

    Great shot..!!! Great photos.., wonderful..!!!

    October 28, 2015 at 7:54 pm

  2. That some pretty neat photos!

    October 28, 2015 at 2:54 pm

  3. He is a hefty fella and majestic.I don’t know how you felt but when he faced the camera I felt a tad intimidated.Agree with Vicki about the light

    October 27, 2015 at 10:46 pm

  4. Fabulous photos and what an experience to watch. Majestic beasts.

    October 27, 2015 at 9:15 pm

  5. Superb shots. But it’s the wonderful light in the scene that really makes the images particularly good. The dark bodies against the light frosty grass and the light outlined bodies against the darker background. For sure, it must have been a great sighting of the elk locking horns and we’re all envious of that. But for me the light makes the series all that much better.

    October 27, 2015 at 4:26 pm

  6. Awesome shots! I would love to see that in person! Thanks for sharing!!

    October 27, 2015 at 1:46 pm

  7. Anonymous

    Lovely animals and photographs. Their call is weird. But very grand. Thanks for sharing.

    October 27, 2015 at 1:40 pm

  8. That would have been amazing to watch. You preserved the action well.

    October 27, 2015 at 1:33 pm

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