Young elk decides to head butt photographer
posted Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 2:51 PM EDT
If the video from earlier this month of a ram attacking a motorcyclist didn't do enough to convince you that you need to be careful around horned mammals, how's this for an example? A photographer in the Cataloochee park had a rather protracted encounter with a young elk, and it involved an extended bout of headbutting, too.
As reported on GoSmokies, a group of photographers were taking photos of a group of elk, when a young elk decided to spar a little with a photographer. As you can see in the video below, the elk repeatedly headbutted the photographer, who did his best to protect himself, and handled the situation very calmly, returning the blows with enough force to keep himself stable.
Eventually the photographer was rescued by someone in a car, and they managed to get the elk away from the photographers gear. The photographer who took the video below emailed with the man, who told him:
"My first thoughts were "wow, he's getting pretty damn close here." But I've been up close before without incident. I hoped being still and passive would see him pass on. When he lowered his antlers to me, I wanted to keep my vitals protected and my head down. I felt that standing up would provoke him more and leave me more vulnerable to goring. I think that while protecting myself with my head down, having my head down was a signal that I was rutting with him. I was concerned at first, but when he started rearing back and lunging at me later on, I got scared and pissed off. That's when I wagged my finger at him to cut that shit out. I was relieved to see the Ranger coming."
What's interesting is that the elk doesn't seem to have been hitting hard enough to actually injure the photographer, which is a huge relief. It obviously could have been going a lot harder and faster than it did. But we're also curious why no one intervened sooner — maybe they were worried about the elk turning on them?
Though we'd love to see what the photos from the encounters look like!