September 7 – 12, 2010

It’s early September and the elk rut is on! Hunting pressure has made wildlife viewing in the National Forest sporadic (to say the least), so I’ve been spending most of my free time in Rocky Mountain National Park’s Kawuneeche Valley. The big bull elk are trying to herd up as many cows as they can, chasing them around and bugling their hearts out. Smaller bulls lurk around the outskirts of the herds, bugling loudly as well, attempting to pull a cow or two away from the main group for a romantic rendezvous. Most are chased away by the dominant bulls, but some are successful. The elk coy (calves of the year) are extremely confused by the behavior of the previously peaceful bulls, and they stay very close to the older cows when the bulls begin to chase and herd the harem. I haven’t seen any serious sparring skirmishes between the big guys yet, mostly just bulls chasing each other around and threatening each other from a distance.

Mornings are very cold in the high country now – the canteen that I keep near my sleeping bag while I sleep has been freezing solid by dawn.

Here’s a great snippet from a National Geographic video featuring elk rutting season in Rocky Mountain National Park…

Comments and critiques are greatly appreciated, thanks!

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