Watch tourist demonstrate why sneaking up on a bison during the rut is a bad idea

American bison in field
(Image credit: Getty)

Getting too close to a bison is never a good idea, and sneaking up on one so it's startled is even worse, as a visitor recently found out at Yellowstone National Park. A video captured by a visitor to the park shows the moment a large bull spotted them leaning around a tree with a camera in hand.

In the clip, which you can watch below, the started animal charges and the visitor has a lucky escape after either tripping or dropping their camera. Once they recover their footing, seemingly unharmed, the bison has left.

We are currently in the middle of the bison rut, which lasts from June to September, with most activity happening in July and August. This is the animals' mating season, when males compete for the attention of females, bellowing and clashing with other males to assert their dominance.

As Custer State Park explains, the animals need even more space than usual right now, as "the bulls are very temperamental and aggressive". We've recently seen one bison ram a car stuck in traffic at Yellowstone, seemingly unprovoked, while another charged a car when visitors stopped to get a closer look.

Bison cause more injuries than any other animal at Yellowstone, and safety guidelines from the National Park Service advise you stay at least 25 yards (23 meters) from bison at all times.

"The animals in Yellowstone are wild and unpredictable, no matter how calm they appear to be," the service warns. For more advice, see our guide how to avoid being gored by a bison.

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.