Elk vs. Photographer | Great Smoky Mountains National Park


Source: While photographing elk at sunrise in the Cataloochee Valley of Great Smoky Mountains National Park I turned around to see what appeared to be just a curious young bull sniffing a photographer’s camera. I snapped a few frames of the apparent harmless encounter.

You can read more about this encounter here: huffingtonpost.co.uk


  • Catrien Vis

    I was sorry to read that the elk was put down as there must have been a zoo or park that could have taken it and it be behind bars, glad the man was not hurt and he handled it very well, maybe the man was a bit too close to ” get a good shot” but unfortunately it is the elk that got a shot, and you people are supposed to be animal lovers and look after what is best for them, a zoo, park or farm would have been best for that animal, thanks for listening to me.

  • anon

    That link Lyra posted is exactly why you don’t get close encounters with wildlife. It’s not for your safety. It’s for theirs. You should get animals accustomed to being scared of people. Playing with them is not teaching them the right lesson. They need to steer clear of us – better for both parties involved.

  • Jim Cockburn

    And now they have shot it for liking people…. What the Hell is wrong with people??? It could have gone to a zoo or farm.

  • anuel Jackson

    since when have elk been in the smoky mountains, last I remember they were slaughtered by the encroaching white settlers!?

  • Nick

    Been there and NOT done that. Safe and respectful distance is IN YOUR CAR! The park service makes this quite clear. Stay away from the Elks for their sake mostly as they do not benefit from extreme socialization with humans. The guy is lucky the elk did not find get aggressive in the encounter as he would have made it a very bad day to be an idiot.

  • jonesapatriot

    Good time to have had a 460 or 500 mag. Lol, there aren’t any puppies out there better go armed; just got lucky that time.

  • Nc local

    I am from this area and familiar with that heard of elk. There extremely comfortable with people since they are basically zoo animals up there. The reintroduction project is not very old and they’re not very many elk without a collar. That was one of the few with out a collar Eventually they will start spreading out expanding their territory and becoming slightly more wild

  • Wille123

    Hunted for years and know this guy could have done some serious damage but he was just a youngster as you could tell by the spikes. Looked like he was just curious to me and wanting to check out something new when he saw it. He didn’t ever look aggressive to me just curious and cocky but trust me if he had wanted to do some damage he could have – I just don’t think he was looking to do anything but nose around. My wife (who is an avid animal lover) would have been right there beside the guy – I on the other hand would have been loading my shot gun.

  • Haters Gotta Hate

    I assuming you guys are all resort skiers who want your nature experiences wrapped up in safe little packages you can purchase with you tacky salary. This guy just had one of the most interesting experiences I’ve ever seen. And if you have ever spent any time around animals that are bigger than you, they are extremely predictable so long as you don’t make them uncomfortable. So don’t be such haters about things you’ll probably never understand, because you live in the city doing pointless things for money so you can take vacations away from the city in hopes people will think your interesting.

    • hate the hating hater

      Yeah, let’s all follow Steve Irwin’s example and get raw with some wild animal contact to prove how rugged and wild we are, that will show them!

  • Big D

    In the rut when they are horney, Elk are just like human males and pretty dumb. This young spike clearly didn’t know what to do with these new hormones and was making as poor of decisions as the photographer dude. He ain’t gonna live long. If he lived in Montana he’d already be dead and I’d have a full belly.

  • Paul Abruzzo

    I got a bigger kick out of the sound of the shutter from the so-called photographer. Talk about spray and pray!

  • Robert

    This guy is an obvious IDIOT, He is extremely lucky he didn’t get impaled, also I would grabbed the tripod and swung the shit out at this Elk and it would of probably run!

    And also what a bunch of pussies standing around, grab a rock, a branch or something and help this moron!

  • lauri

    I was in awe and holding my breath but I totally believe his Elk was curious and being playful not very aggressive and even gentle, this would have been a different video if it was otherwise!! I agree with a previous comment, would love to see his pictures!! That is braving danger for your art!!!

  • Rawr Gapeage

    I don’t know why the locals always be hating on the gapeing. Homie wasn’t even wearing snowblades or anything!

  • Chris

    Grab each antler with both hands, do a alligator barrel roll forcing the elk to its back, pull out your knife and cut its throat. Now you have dinner and a badass video.

    • Ahulahey

      Never, ever, ever get into a hand-fight with a dwarf deer let alone an elk. They will kick the living crap out of you. Their hooves are razor sharp and with just a couple of front kicks will slash your thin skin to the bone.

  • Lyn

    Seriously! Obviously the Elk was only curious at first but then started to get aggressive. That person in the black pick-up/SUV (whatever) should have eased up and gave the photographer and escape route. I wonder if the elk was fed and that is why he was only skittish and not afraid of the photographer?

  • BJS

    Anybody out there in internet opinion land an elk biologist? I’m wondering if the elk was being aggressive or being playful. It seemed very skittish when the guy started to actually move. I’m also curious what the events were leading up to this incident. The photographer didn’t come across and looking very concerned. That’s probably a good thing, it’s best to remain calm/etc. But continuing to take photos probably wasn’t in his best interest.

    I agree, the GMC person was in prime position to lend assistance to the situation. “Braindead” is probably not too terribly far off the mark.

    All in all, an entertaining example of people and animals being people and animals together on this little blue dot. And everyone seemed to be in fine shape after the encounter. Win – win.

    • lynn

      The elk was just playing. And, he was playing very gentle. I have had moments like that and they are so cool. I feel sorry for people that are so afraid of animals, because in reality most if not all nearly all are much more afraid of people then people are of them, and when you get an animal that will take you as a friend, it is special.

    • Linda

      BJS — I’m not an animal biologist, but I have had a few colts and to me this looks like a young adult who is trying, quite respectfully, to encourage the photographer to spar (play). I’m really assuming here, but he can probably smell that the photographer is a male (I’d really hate to be in his position as I’m female!) and wants to test out his new rack.

      You can see that he’s rubbing his antlers against the photographers face and shoulders. I think he’s confused about the photographer not being equipped with antlers (all males in “elk world” have antlers! what’s going on?) and is trying to lock his antlers onto *something* so then their play sparring can begin.

      When he’s getting a bit more “shovey” — well haven’t we all ramped it up trying to goad the other person into engaging? All his stamping with the one leg, crowhopping and more energetic heat butting is his way of saying “Oh, Come ON!”

      Had he been truly aggressive, he would have pummelled the photographer with his front legs, then stomped on him and gored him with his antlers.

      Hope this helps (if my interpretations of elk behaviours are correct).

  • JPo

    Why would you continue to “butt heads” with a massive Elk? Clearly the Elk saw you as a threat to his bonin’ territory. Back away, save the day.

    • Anonymous

      it isn’t like the man was in any kind of immediate danger, the elk was just checking him out and the photographer went along with it. if that elk saw him as a “threat” then the elk could have done some serious damage. instead the elk was just checking him out and once the man stood up the elk backed away

      • scotta

        He was iin serious danger. This is a wild animal. Elk are NOT puppies or kittens. You should keep your comments to yourself in the matters of wildlife. Clearly you can’t see a “threat”… even when you have it on video!

      • Chis k

        He could have put himself in more danger had he stood up and ran away. Don’t try to provoke it.

  • E2000g

    The driver of that gmc cold have helped. I would have hit the elk with that truck. Skrew honking. Hit that thing.

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