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Rut! Fabulous Bugling Elk

As days begin to shorten and nights begin to cool, we glimpse a hint of golden Aspen leaves on the highest mountainsides and wait patiently for the first exciting sights and sounds of the annual Elk Rut — hardened, velvet free antlers and amazing, wondrous bugling.


Bull Elk are beautiful, huge, amazingly powerful wild animals with lots of bullish attitude. The rut is extremely competitive and energetically demanding, and Bull Elk are especially vigilant, irritable, jumpy, and understandably “pumped-up” as they vie for breeding rights.


Breeding season is stressful for the whole herd. Avoid potential accident, injury or death by always viewing from a safe distance.  If an animal is carefully watching you and appears “jumpy” or “twitchy” you are way too close.  Avoid eye contact and back away. Use the zoom instead.


Never, ever get between two bulls!  Situations can change instantly and you don’t want to be caught in the middle!  Be aware, this is true whether on foot or in your vehicle – two bulls focused on one another can charge at any time and antlers can, and will puncture a door panel or window if hit hard enough and Bull Elk don’t mess around – they hit hard!


Never, ever get between a Bull and his harem for the same reason.  And please, keep to a safe distance in respect to the Cows and babes as well as they can be every bit as jumpy, vigilant, and excitable as the Bulls.


Large groups of breeding Elk (a Bull and his harem) can be seen anywhere in Estes Park. They have no boundaries and wander freely through town. Slow down and be aware of your surroundings.


Never block traffic. “Elk Jams” are a danger to everyone. Blocking traffic on single lane roads creates all kinds of potentially dangerous situations.  Be sure to pull completely off the roadway, out of the way of through traffic.  Walk on the “sidewalk side” of the vehicle and remember not to surround or “corner” an animal while viewing.


Keep dogs leashed and quiet. Do not allow them to bark, lunge at or chase wildlife.


Never, ever imitate an elk call or bugle during the rut. Not only does each elk have his/her own identifiable “voice,” different bugles actually mean different things. “Saying” the wrong thing at the wrong time could endanger both you and the herd.


Please respect private property.  Elk know no boundaries. We love that about them — especially when we can watch a big, beautiful bull bugling and herding his cows through the middle of town or through the neighborhood or if you are here at Boulder Brook, up from the river and across our front lawn.


Remember – Elk are wild animals. Be aware and be respectful. View quietly from a safe distance. Never attempt to touch or feed wildlife. Keep dogs leashed and quiet.  Use the zoom. And if you see someone who is being careless or unsafe or making it unsafe for others, make the call.

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