Bugling Elk

Fall. A time of change as the warmth of the summer drains away in preparation for winter. A time when the leaves show their autumn colors. A time of shorter and colder days. And a time for the elk.

This magnificent bull elk is bugling on a fall afternoon in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Standing there he calls across Moraine Park to claim his mates as well as issue a challenge to any and all nearby bulls. At this time of the year, the vast meadows have any number of bulls and their cows and the bugles echo faintly throughout the valley.

Every now and then a rival bull will answer the challenge and the battle enjoined. With a rush and a crash they collide headlong, and the sound, seemingly an innocuous one of clicks and clacks, coming together, belies the intensity of the charge. This is not play, and the bulls are intent on defending their cows as well as winning cows for themselves. This is truly the battle of titans and the outcome not always certain.

This bull’s call went unanswered, however, at least this time. He called again shortly afterward, with the same result. He went back to tending his cows, until it was time to call again.

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