In the late spring and summer, bull elk use large amounts of testosterone to produce their antlers. For the most part bulls are not aggressive during this period – all that “anger juice” is going toward building their headgear. But as the summer draws to a close and a bull’s antlers harden, testosterone reroutes itself back into his system. By September and early October, testosterone levels are at their peak, just in time for the fall rut activity.
You mess with the bull, you get the horns. Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to bull elk defending their territory and cows from intruding suitors. Every September and October, it’s possible to walk a ridgeline and see (or hear) this amazing clash of titans play out. These photos from Donald M. Jones record this behavior.