Yellowstone tourist challenges bull elk to a fight by bugling

Close-up of bugling elk
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A man was escorted away at Yellowstone National Park last week after using an elk call to taunt a rutting bull. 

The incident was caught on camera by next.trekking.adventure as an example of how not to act around wild animals, particularly during the mating season. The people behind the Instagram account reported the incident to the NPS, and advise anyone who witnesses anything similar to do the same.

In the video, which you can watch below, the man approaches a pair of bulls and uses an elk call designed to attract the animals for hunting. Approaching and distracting wildlife in a National Park is illegal, and the man was lucky to be escorted away unharmed after taunting the animals, which could easily knock down and trample a person. 

Elk are at their most spectacular during the rut as males posture, showing off their magnificent antlers and bugling as they compete for the right to mate. However, they are also at their most dangerous. Attacks on people are rare, but bulls are particularly unpredictable and prone to aggression at this time of year. Earlier this week, one was spotted charging cars and pedestrians at Estes Park, Colorado, and another rammed a vehicle that stopped too close to his harem.

Elk safety

The NPS reminds everyone visiting Yellowstone National Park to stay at least 25 yards (23 meters) from elk at all times, and to remember that that the safest place to watch these spectacular animals is from a vehicle. Even if an animal seems calm, it can soon become aggressive if it feels threatened.

"If an elk charges, get away!" the NPS warns. "Retreat to shelter in a building or vehicle or behind a tall, sturdy barrier as quickly as possible."

For more advice, take a look at our guides how to enjoy elk rutting season safely and wildlife safety: eight tips for unexpected encounters. You might also like to check out our advice from a professional wildlife photographer, which will help you take better pictures during your trip.

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.