Tree branch saves man's life after he antagonizes hormonal bull elk

Bull elk standing in river
(Image credit: Getty)

A man avoided being knocked down or gored by a stampeding elk when the animal got its antlers tangled in a low-hanging tree branch mid-charge.

The man let curiosity get the better of him and approached much too close to the bull in a Colorado park. Elk are always unpredictable, but bulls are particularly prone to aggression during the rut in the fall when they are following their instincts and competing for the right to mate.

The exceptionally close call (which you can see below) was recorded by artist Clinton Reynolds, who spotted the accident waiting to happen in a local park.

"I asked the guy if he brought extra underwear right after this, and he was NOT pleased," said Reynolds.

Appreciating elk

Colorado has the largest population of elk in the world, with over 280,000 animals grazing on grasses and shrubs. In the fall, people travel from all over the world to sites like Rocky Mountain National Park and nearby Estes Park, where the majestic bulls can be seen bugling, posturing, and butting heads.

Understandably, many visitors want to capture the experience, but it's essential to take proper safety precautions and give the animals plenty of space. Avoiding disturbing wildlife and allowing animals to engage in natural behavior will always yield better photos than taking them by surprise in a parking lot, while also keeping you out of harm's way.

"Take time to watch the animals in their environment as quietly as you can," advises professional wildlife photographer Emma Jacobs, who is a panel judge for the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards. "What are they doing? What is around them? What is their character like? All these things can give you ideas for photos and help you tell a story.”

Jacobs recommends always moving slowly and quietly to avoid disturbing animals. "Keep in mind that you have no control over wildlife, but that's what makes your subject so interesting!" she says. "If it flies or crawls away, look for another – you will be rewarded in the end! All you can do is put yourself in the right place and be patient."

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.