See clueless tourist learn the hard way why it's a bad idea to pet a bull elk

Bull elk sitting in fall leaves
(Image credit: Getty)

A tourist visiting elk country got the fright of his life recently when he approached and attempted to pet a large bull elk resting in a field. In a video shot by one of his companions, the man can be seen approaching the animal with his hand outstretched and speaking to it.

In the clip, which you can watch below, the elk ignores him for a while, then becomes irritated and stands while bugling loudly – which has the desired effect of scaring the man away.

The video was shared on Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone, which highlights bad behavior at sites of natural beauty, often including wildlife or hazards such as hot springs and geysers. It's not clear where this particular incident took place, but it seems likely to be either Yellowstone or Rocky Mountain National Park.

Elk may seem docile most of the year, but all wild animals are unpredictable, and bulls can be particularly aggressive during the rut, which takes place in late summer and early fall. At this time of year they compete for the attention of females, sparring with one another and bugling to protect their harems from rivals.

Last week. a hiker had a narrow escape after straying too close to a bull and his harem at Estes Park. The animal waited while the walker's companions passed, but became frustrated with the straggler and made a bluff charge to encourage him to move on.

The National Park Service advises visitors to nearby Rocky Mountain National Park to keep conversations to a minimum near elk, and observe them from a distance that avoids disturbing them. If their behavior changes, it's a sign that you're too close. For more advice, see our guide how to enjoy elk rutting season safely.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.