For most people, fall is the time for sweaters and warm drinks. Students return to school, and people flock to cafes for their pumpkin-flavored coffee. For elk, the beginning of fall marks the mating season.
Like many prey animals, elk live in tightly knit social groups. Throughout the rest of the year, the animals live in herds as large as 200 or 400 animals. During that time, the elk are usually separated by gender.
However, around the middle of September, the elk rut begins. During that time, the herds break into groups of a single elk bull and a harem of dozens of female elk.
Until around mid-October, elk bulls exhibit increased aggression toward other males and become possessive of their harem. They will also become territorial, marking their space and scratching their antlers on logs and trees.
Unlike humans who can mate year-round, elks will only conceive during this short time of the year. Afterward, the animals will return to their larger herd for the rest of the 11 months.
In this video, a wildlife photographer captured many of the unique behaviors one elk bull displayed with his harem. In addition to scratching his horns, he would follow some female elk until they made it clear they were not interested in mating.
As strange as their behaviors might seem to us, this video provides a fascinating window into the daily lives of elk. Take a look for yourself at this intriguing animal world.