A bull elk under a full moon in Yellowstone National Park
Elk Rut Video – September brings ruting season (mating season), the larger bulls form harems of cows, which they defend with their seasonally aggressive nature, One bull may have a herd of fifteen to thirty cows, but some may have achieved as many as sixty. During the rut, the bull elk engage one on one battles for available cows, they bugle, they wallow in the mud holes they have scented with their urine, and they urinate on plants that they toss onto their antlers. It is thought that this activity makes the bulls more fearsome to other bulls and more attractive to the cows.
Bull elk make a sound called a bugle, a true sound of the wilderness that starts as a bellow, changes to a loud whistle, and ends in a series of grunts. The bugling serves to challenge to other bulls and to attract the cow elk. This timeless wilderness show can be seen in the meadows of Yellowstone and other places where there is no hunting pressure, where elk are hunted they are unapproachable and are often hiding in the safety of the deep forest. Some bugle a lot, others infrequently. Besides bugling, you’ll hear chirps, grunts, gurgles, and squeals. Bulls are only territorial during the mating season and are otherwise, not aggressive to other elk.
The elk rut in the fall I believe is one of the best shows in nature and it is great fun to photograph them this time of year.