Is This the Reason Elk Numbers Are Down?

male and female elks in an open field
This mature 8×8 bull had about 20 cows and calves in his herd, Jones says. “It was the first really cold day of the fall in this region, with temperatures around 18 to 20 degrees—a classic day for back-lit steam and frost.” Donald M. Jones
male and female elks in an open field
“The bull was eagerly fending off three satellite bulls from his harem,” Jones says. “None were anything of his caliber, but nonetheless, he could not relax.” Donald M. Jones
male and female elks in an open field
“Soon this cow approached the bull and proceeded to rub herself repeatedly against the bull,” Jones says. “But the bull paid her little attention.” Donald M. Jones
male and female elks in an open field
The cow nuzzled even closer to the bull before she made her move. Donald M. Jones
male and female elks in an open field
Eventually, Jones said, the cow began to mount the bull, “as if to give a hint of what she wanted and what he should do.” Donald M. Jones
male and female elks in an open field
Despite the cow’s advances, the bull didn’t appear to be in the mood. Donald M. Jones
male and female elks in an open field
Jones joked that the title of this photograph could be: “Why Elk Numbers Are Down.” Donald M. Jones
male and female elks in an open field
But the bull was too preoccupied by the competing bulls in the area. “Love would have to take a rain check,” Jones said. Donald M. Jones