A photographer named James was taking pictures in the Cataloochee Valley of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in October 2013 when an elk took him by surprise.
James did not get up and run, though. Instead, he stayed passive and lowered his head to keep his face safe from the large antlers. While lowering his head may have signaled to the elk that James wanted to rut or head-butt like male elks are known to do, it also was key to keeping him from being gorged.
“He started physically harassing the photographer, escalating to full on head-butts,” said the person who filmed the video.
As you can see in the video, the elk starts getting more and more physical. Although he’s not a full-grown elk, his head-butting could have done a lot of harm.
What is really remarkable about the footage is just how calm and collected James stays throughout the seven-minute encounter. He knew that if he made any sudden movements or got up and ran, it could provoke the elk and cause more trouble.
“I hoped being still and passive would see him pass on,” James said. “When he lowered his antlers to me, I wanted to keep my vitals protected and my head down.”
Luckily, James was able to escape from the animal and grab his gear, but I bet he’ll be a little hesitant now every time he goes out into the wild where an elk lives!
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