Elk vs photographer
November 13, 2013 3:09 PM   Subscribe

 
It must have been frightening, but the elk is so calm and matter-of-fact about it that it looks like it's using the guy to scratch its head.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 3:24 PM on November 13, 2013


Paparazzi everywhere! How's he supposed to have his date with Jennifer Lawrence?
posted by arcticseal at 3:31 PM on November 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


What are you supposed to do in that situation? (not that I'd be in that situation....)

Should you strike a submissive elk-y pose? Is his bowed head provoking the creature?

That elk nearly made off with his backpack! ELK THIEVERY!
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 3:32 PM on November 13, 2013


Suddenly my cat wishes she had antlers.
posted by mittens at 3:35 PM on November 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was actually pretty furious that the guy taking the video of this interaction and the gawker in the background were not getting help, because (a) those horns looked sharp and (b) the elk was not losing interest.

You could see when the elk backed up, how easily the photographer could have been skewered by 2 foot horns with 200 lbs of weight behind it, if the animal felt spooked.

I'm glad it ended well for everyone though. Hope the photos were worth it.
posted by warm_planet at 3:35 PM on November 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


I don't know much about these kinds of things, but it seems pretty obvious from this case study that you should:

1. Keep your distance. Even if you've "been up close before without incident."
2. Have an escape route. (Don't wait for your getaway car; have one right there.)
3. Don't sit down. Duh.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:38 PM on November 13, 2013


I have cousins in an elk-infested area and I've been chased into lakes the last 3 times I visited. Dialogue from time no. 2: "This is a really nice walk. Although, I don't usually come this way when the elk are calving because AAAAAAAAAAAAH!"

That's a mellow young buck just playing, but in late September when the rut is on I've seen bull elk charge at squirrels. One charged my old Chevette once (I'm pretty sure it would have won), but stopped just short; its rack was so huge its hind feet left the ground when it braked from the counterweight. It took four of us to rescue some girl who was literally treed by a cow one spring.

I have a million elk stories. ASK ME ABOUT THE ELK MENACE.
posted by Erasmouse at 3:39 PM on November 13, 2013 [63 favorites]


2 foot horns with 200 lbs of weight behind it

Probably more like 500lbs.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:40 PM on November 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


"That elk nearly made off with his backpack! ELK THIEVERY!"

It needed a trophy to prove that it won. Or maybe it was hoping that would make the human come back and play some more
posted by Kevin Street at 3:45 PM on November 13, 2013


The elk did not think the photog was at a safe or respectful distance, and the elk's opinion is the one that matters here.
posted by rtha at 3:49 PM on November 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


It sort of looked like the elk was going, hey, don't you know how to headbutt? Dude? Here, like this! No you're doing it wrong, see...
posted by BungaDunga at 3:55 PM on November 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


I have a million elk stories. ASK ME ABOUT THE ELK MENACE.

Please share more elk stories.
posted by curious nu at 3:57 PM on November 13, 2013 [12 favorites]


I was surprised that the bystanders (the one in the background and the guy who shot the video) did nothing to help, but, in their defense, the guy getting butted did not seem to do anything to make clear that he needed help. Someone watching might have thought the guy was just trying to get some great pictures and didn't mind the butting, I guess. I thought the guy getting butted was shockingly passive about the whole thing.
posted by Mid at 3:59 PM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm also bothered by the fact that people stood by without at least offering to help. Those antlers look sharp and dangerous to me, and the confrontation was making me nervous.

I don't know who drove up and gave him access to the safety of a vehicle, but that's something that should have been offered much sooner, I think. The photographer had to worry about sudden movements or calling out because he didn't want to spook the animal, but somebody approaching slowly from the periphery would more likely have distracted it if they didn't frighten it off.

The man shouldn't have been left in that vulnerable and dangerous situation so long without at least an offer of assistance.
posted by Max Udargo at 4:01 PM on November 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


warm_planet: " 2 foot horns with 200 lbs of weight behind it,"

Try 600. Those motherfuckers are *big*.
posted by notsnot at 4:03 PM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Make no mistake, an elk can fuck you up. Antlers, hooves, teeth, muscle, and size. Last time I was in Jasper, Canada a local lady was mauled and killed by a mad mama elk right in the middle of town.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:04 PM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought the guy getting butted was shockingly passive about the whole thing.

From the YouTube description, from the videographer:

Most people who see this ask why the photographer seems to just take the abuse. I asked him in an email what was going through his head. This is his response:

"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."
posted by heyho at 4:06 PM on November 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Right now I'm imagining an elk proudly displaying a backpack mounted on its living room wall. "Yep, got that from a 200 pound adult male. Greybeard."
posted by Kevin Street at 4:08 PM on November 13, 2013 [19 favorites]


heyho: "I thought the guy getting butted was shockingly passive about the whole thing.

From the YouTube description, from the videographer:

Most people who see this ask why the photographer seems to just take the abuse. I asked him in an email what was going through his head. This is his response:

"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."
"


You left out the best part, “at least he took me for a buck and not a cow!”
posted by calamari kid at 4:16 PM on November 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


"my mind to your mind, my thoughts to your thoughts"

clearly the buck was simply attempting an elkan mind meld
posted by pyramid termite at 4:27 PM on November 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


"my mind to your mind, my thoughts to your thoughts"

"...my ticks to your ticks"
posted by Sys Rq at 4:32 PM on November 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


I liked how afterwards, the elk started to make off with the backpack. All I could think of was "Bitch, you just got mugged!"
posted by Imperfect at 4:33 PM on November 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


You left out the best part, “at least he took me for a buck and not a cow!”
Only because that was mentioned in the original link posted.


I do find it odd that the spectator we see in the video watching the whole event didn't maneuver their vehicle in between the elk and his toy. I would have. One good kick to the head, and it'd have been lights-out for that guy.
posted by heyho at 4:33 PM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Make no mistake, an elk can fuck you up.

This is why I never leave home without my hippopotamus.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:38 PM on November 13, 2013 [11 favorites]


Someone needs to set that elk up with the sheep from earlier....
posted by The otter lady at 4:43 PM on November 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


An elk once bit my sister
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:43 PM on November 13, 2013 [11 favorites]


Realli?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:47 PM on November 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Ah dammit, now I can't stop laughing.
posted by ambivalentic at 4:51 PM on November 13, 2013


I thought the photographer was doing well up until the elk felt like his horns were being tangled or pulled on, then he seemed to feel like it was about time to get down to business. I thought the photographer handled it well...I would've alternated between shitting myself from fear and shitting myself from excitement.
posted by nevercalm at 4:54 PM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


My aunt is frequently accosted by elk around her home. I've stayed there a few times and experienced the elk across the road, and I've been glad each time that it didn't decide to cross the street and kick my ass.
posted by invitapriore at 4:56 PM on November 13, 2013


Jeez, that looked terrifying.

If I was one of the drivers I'd have been worried that I'd further provoke the beast. And then what do you do?

As for the photographer... Sitting and not making sudden movements or further exposing himself looked like the right move. Lucky guy!
posted by artof.mulata at 5:04 PM on November 13, 2013


Why didn't he roll into a ball and away from the scene? While screaming? Because that would be my number one option.
posted by angrycat at 5:14 PM on November 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why didn't he roll into a ball and away from the scene?

because elkaball is prohibited in national parks
posted by pyramid termite at 5:18 PM on November 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, break park rules and there'll be 'ellk to pay!
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:50 PM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm just going to leave this here.
posted by leslies at 6:01 PM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I was a toddler I apparently walked right up to an elk in Northern California somewhere while my parents weren't looking. They were freaked out but I escaped unscathed. Maybe I'm some sort of elk whisperer.
posted by Aizkolari at 6:38 PM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


For fun, replace every instance of "elk" with "elf".
posted by curious nu at 8:00 PM on November 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have this vision of Crocodile Dundee walking up to an elf with a big candy knife.
posted by arcticseal at 8:32 PM on November 13, 2013


Can't win 'em all, Mr. Darwin.
posted by klanawa at 8:33 PM on November 13, 2013


Bystanders are lucky they didn't just witness him being gored and killed right in front of their eyes. Anyone in a car could have easily drove up, layed on the horn, and scared the elk off. People are fucking stupid.
posted by victory_laser at 11:12 PM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I nearly got attacked by an elk cow near Old Faithful. 10 feet away from an elk is WAY TOO FUCKING CLOSE.
posted by asterix at 11:16 PM on November 13, 2013


victory_laser: "Bystanders are lucky they didn't just witness him being gored and killed right in front of their eyes. Anyone in a car could have easily drove up, layed on the horn, and scared the elk off. People are fucking stupid."

I gotta agree. I love animals, and I have nothing against elk, but when those horns get that close to a human, I say pull out the rifle and drop the animal. And I'm not even a hunter. I know I sound like a cold hearted bastard, and I hate that myself, but that elk could have killed that guy in so many ways it's simply not worth the risk, IMHO.

BTW, rather than the rifle method, I'd have vastly preferred that the damned spectators in their SUVs came to the man's aid as mentioned above.

My question is, "what is that elk going to do to the next photographer it meets?"

Before you folks skewer me, I agree that the photographer should have had adequate plans for "RUN AWAY" if the animal got too close.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 11:29 PM on November 13, 2013


I wonder what the elk would have done if the guy had picked up his tripod and used it as a set of fake horns. Would the elk have seen it as a challenge and got even more hostile, or seen it as a threat and backed off faster? I guess we'll never know how your opponent having one extra horn comes across to an elk.
posted by Solomon at 1:59 AM on November 14, 2013


I love animals, and I have nothing against elk, but when those horns get that close to a human, I say pull out the rifle and drop the animal.

If you have an inappropriately aggressive animal, then sure. But in this case what you had was an inappropriately intrusive person, which would be a sad reason for shooting the elk. And, as noted above, all anyone needed to do was drive closer and let the dumbass photographer get into their car.
posted by Dip Flash at 2:29 AM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


>Please share more elk stories.

Oh, it's just not the same without my imitation elk sounds and pounding imitation forehoof action.

I can give you some ELK FACTS!

- Cows are dangerous in the spring, bulls are dangerous in the fall. The rest of the year they are cool unless you got in their face for some reason.

- Testosterone is a hell of a drug. (aside: by happy chance, the url of that video is "tEv-hwjhEiE" which is exactly the sound an elk makes)

- A park ranger once grimly told me "Elk are the Typhoid Mary of the forest".

- The antlers are incredibly heavy. I always pictured them as an Ikea-pine weight; but if you find the shed ones and try to pick them up they are fearsomely dense. It's amazing to me that they can hold their heads up. It's also amazing that they regrow like a quarter of their whole skeleton every year. Antlers grow at a rate of 2.5 cms a day!

-What should you do if menaced by an elk?

1. Make yourself look large. Hold your jacket over your head to look even larger (elk aren't very bright). As soon as the guy in the video stood up this elk backed off. 2. Move slowly away, 3. If that doesn't work, RUN. They're not predators, they won't get an urge to catch you. The first charge is usually a bluff, they want you to run. (aside: if I'd been there I wouldn't have been sure if the guy wanted an intervention. I might have read it as him enjoying his elk moment, otherwise, why didn't he stand up and run? It's a bit of a not-waving-but-drowning situation. Also, this is a weird case-- that's a very young buck, maybe a yearling? early in the year when they're usually not dangerous. I think it thinks they're playing- you often see young bucks gently-for-an-elk tussling like this.)

- I wonder what the elk would have done if the guy had picked up his tripod and used it as a set of fake horns? DO NOT DO THIS.

- If you really want to play head-butting, most domestic goats will happily oblige. Choose a small goat.

- A couple of years ago the biggest bull elk I've ever seen graced us with his constant threatening presence. We called him Big Band because of his impressive horn section. His hated rival was a very pretty young bull about half his size who got his ass kicked at least three times a day; we called him, of course, Boy Band (that is more of a story than a fact).
posted by Erasmouse at 2:35 AM on November 14, 2013 [21 favorites]


Wow, following the links in the Youtube links linked here I found this video of a rescue. Turns out it is a moose, not an elk as per the title, but still awesome.
posted by miorita at 3:33 AM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]




I put my stupid person with a camera meets elk story up a while back.

Lesson: people are stupid and think wild animals are like their pet hamsters back home. Or that they are immune from harm or something.
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:07 AM on November 14, 2013


I dub thee Kanye. Kanye Elk.
posted by smoothvirus at 5:11 AM on November 14, 2013


You left out the best part, “at least he took me for a buck and not a cow!”

And thank goodness for that, I say. The last thing we need is more of these blasted half-elks running around with their +2 perception checks and their saving throw bonuses against enchantment. Filthy buggers.
posted by Naberius at 7:02 AM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Am I insane for being very strongly reminded of the way my cat insists on butting heads with me?
posted by shesdeadimalive at 7:11 AM on November 14, 2013


I would like to see some of the photos that were taken from the photographers perspective.
posted by brinkzilla at 7:14 AM on November 14, 2013


There are a couple in the ABC newscast that I saw this morning, but I couldn't find them at the link they show over the pictures.
posted by gladly at 7:35 AM on November 14, 2013


Back in 2010, the city of Cherokee, NC opened a beautiful new campus housing the Elementary, Middle and High Schools and related facilities. Cherokee is not far from Cataloochee and there are many elk in the area. The new school campus features large, open athletic fields and grassy commons between buildings. Naturally, the elk are happy to graze there and students have learned to open exterior doors very slowly, lest they surprise the elk grazing outside and get challenged or charged.

Si Yo TsuNaLi *, mofos!


* Cherokee for "Hello friends"
posted by workerant at 8:13 AM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I imagine that elk still thinks he made a new friend.
posted by ostro at 11:01 AM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sys Rq: " Don't sit down. Duh."

Why? In what way did that make anything worse? Do you imagine that he could have outrun the elk? Not for 5', not for 500'.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:47 AM on November 14, 2013


Mid: "I thought the guy getting butted was shockingly passive about the whole thing."

I think he was admirably and bravely passive - and, in the end, his strategy worked. He was not injured, by an elk that clearly was looking for a fight (in "FIGHT ME GODDAMMIT!!!" male elk season).

Despite what movies tell you, Rambo would not have fared well in this encounter.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:56 AM on November 14, 2013


Why? In what way did that make anything worse? Do you imagine that he could have outrun the elk? Not for 5', not for 500'.

The message of rutting is "I'm bigger, so fuck off." It wants you to run away. That's the point. Elk aren't predators. They don't chase unless you challenge them.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:59 AM on November 14, 2013


Here's a terrifying encounter with Young Bull Elk in Yellowstone that sounds very much like the story of your close encounter, asterix. Yikes.
posted by madamjujujive at 3:12 PM on November 14, 2013


I'm not an elk expert, but that definitely looked like I JUST WANT TO BORROW YOUR HAT, DUDE. IT WOULD LOOK SO NICE ON MY RACK. HELP AN ELK OUT.
posted by jocelmeow at 3:04 PM on November 15, 2013


I learned in another forum that that particular elk has been put down.

He'd a nuisance all summer - because people were feeding him, and so he was getting braver and more aggressive. This was the last straw, I guess.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:36 PM on November 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yup. People fed this elk which conditioned him to seek out humans. This is why you shouldn't feed wild animals and "a fed bear is a dead bear." I might conceivably be a bit touchy about this because I rode my motorcycle through Cades Cove this morning (because Parsons Branch Road closes for the season tomorrow!) and watched a bunch of tourists trying to get close to the wild deer.
posted by workerant at 1:32 PM on November 17, 2013


Yep. Euthanized. The video was influential in the decision, but really was the last straw with this particular elk, which could not be reconditioned to stay clear of humans. And, as others pointed out, he might have just been playful now, but, come rutting season, he could be murderous.

And, as pointed out above, he had likely been conditioned to be around humans because humans had fed him. The food you give a wild animal today could be the bullet he is shot with tomorrow.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:12 AM on November 18, 2013


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