See two huge bull moose go head-to-head at Grand Teton while lone elk watches on

Two bull moose fighting during the rut
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

A man visiting Grant Teton National Park captured a spectacular and unusual sight last week, as two huge bull moose came to blows with a bull elk watching apprehensively from a distance. Derek Yoder (opens in new tab) shared the encounter on Instagram after visiting the park with wildlife photographer Courtney Brooke (opens in new tab).

Just like elk, moose are currently in their breeding season, known at the rut. During this period, which begins in September for animals in the Grand Tetons, bull moose strip the velvet from their antlers (sometimes destroying small trees in the process) and prepare to compete for dominance against rivals as you can see in the video below.

"A bull on the offensive tries to knock its opponent sideways," explains the NPS (opens in new tab). "If such a move is successful, the challenger follows through with another thrust of its antlers. The weaker animal usually gives up before any serious damage is done; occasionally the opponent's antlers inflict a mortal wound."

A post shared by Derek Yoder (@dereksyoder) (opens in new tab)

A photo posted by on

"During this time, you may also witness some interesting behaviors," Grand Teton National Park (opens in new tab) explained in a Facebook post from 2016's rut.

"Male moose, called 'bulls', will dig rutting pits and then urinate in these pits. They will then splash this mud-urine mixture onto their antlers and neck. Then they will lay in the pit. Their urine actually contains chemicals that help coordinate the fertility of female moose, called cows."

This makes for some spectacular viewing opportunities, provided you keep your distance. The National Park Service advises keeping at least 25 yards (23 meters) away from elk and moose at all times.

Although not usually aggressive, moose are huge, heavy, fast-moving animals, and are particularly unpredictable at this time of year. If you accidentally come into close quarters, the moose will typically leave first, but it's always best to secure children and dogs, talk calmly, and back away to give the moose space. Stomping hooves, raised hair, and grunting are all signs that the animal is feeling threatened, and may react. For more advice, see our guide what to do if you see a moose while hiking.

Cat Ellis
Editor

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 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).