VIDEO: Tense Encounter Between Elk and Wildlife Photographer
March 11, 2021
One wildlife photographer had the fright of his life when a curious bull elk took more than a little interest in the man and his photographic equipment.
The encounter took place in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where the nature photographer was sitting by the side of the road taking snaps of wildlife when one buck elk got too close, and curiosity turned to aggression.
The photographer was sitting cross-legged by the side of the road on the first approach of the elk. The elk lowered it's head and rubbed the crown of it's head against the head of the photographer, perhaps in imitation of two sparring bucks. The wildlife photographer is a very smart man, and he knew to keep his head down and his hat on to protect his eyes; if worse comes to worst and the elk charged, his antlers might scratch his head, maybe requiring stitches, but if the antler goes through the man's eye he will certainly lose it, if not his life as well.
But the elk just wouldn't stop. In fact, it seemed to get worse and worse as the elk got more aggravated. The people watching from a distance grew more concerned, and eventually, the man knew that he would have to stand up, if the elk ever gave him a chance. Soon, the chance came and the man rose to his feet. The elk seemed to be a little more cautious now that the real size of the man was apparent, but he still didn't go away. Finally, someone in a white SUV drove up and rescued the man, but not before the photographer jumped out and grabbed his tripod and equipment, which seemed to be what the elk was after.
The story has a sad ending. Great Smoky Park Rangers decided to put the animal down after it showed a pattern of aggressive behavior. They think that someone had been feeding the elk regularly, which had contributed to the animal's lack of fear towards humans, as well as his expectation of receiving a treat from every human he approached.
To be clear, this photographer DID NOT feed the animal and did not get too close. He did just as he was supposed to. The onus of blame for the animal's death belongs to whoever carelessly fed the animal.
Remember: please do not feed the wild animals. You are taking their lives, and potentially the lives of the next person the animal encounters, into your hands.