Spike Elk Spars Photographer, Camera Bag And Himself – All Is Safe

Update, now with video. (Thanks Mike!) In what I would call the weirdest animal/photographer encounter of the year, Roger Trentham reports to witness and photograph a Spike Elk sparring with a photographer.

Bull Elk Spars Photographer, Camera Bag And Himself

The group was photographing a small herd of elks in the Cataloochee park while a young Spike Elk wanted some mischief and started sparring with one of the photographers.

The photographer tried his best to avoid eye contact and any aggression but the young spike simply did not let go. Eventually, one of the other photographers approached with a car where the photographer hopped in, leaving the camera bag on the ground.

“Each time the spike stopped and backed up a few steps the man would look up and the spike would begin again. The man did not appear to be suffering injuries but the spike would not stop. Finally, a white car approached and turned toward the spike who backed up just long enough for the man to rise to his feet. When the man got up the spike moved toward him and lowered his head like he would charge. The driver of the car approached the spike closer and the man was able to get in the car.”#

Eventually, the car came in closer, and the photographer grabbed the bag, only to have the young Spike spar his reflection in the mirror.

This is just a reminder of how crazy wild life photography can get and that you can never be too careful. More elk vs. photographer photos over at gosmokies.

[SPARRING PARTNER | Roger Trentham via Jim M. Goldstein]

P.S. – In another photographer vs. nature endeavor, a GoPro mounted ram goes at a motorcyclist.

  • Mike

    I watched this yesterday and after a very short time, I couldn’t help but wonder why nobody tried to help this guy out sooner? From the video and still photos from this incident, it clear that there are several other people standing around watching, photographing and filming this happening. Yet it took over 5 minutes before someone else stepped in to give this guy some help getting out of the situation. What were the other people thinking was going to happen? Were they hoping for that great photo or video of this guy getting seriously hurt or worse? Did they not realize how quickly this could have turned very ugly? You can see several vehicles in the stills and video from the scene that someone could have used to approach and distract the elk to help this guy out. It seems like a lot of people are bashing this guy for ‘getting too close’ and I agree that this should never have gotten to this point, but at the same time I can’t help but feel disappointed in the lack of action from the others watching what was happening and did nothing to help this guy get out of the situation.

    • Rick

      Where did you find video?

      • Mike
        • Rick

          Thank you. If it was me, I think I’d of at least motioned to the SUV off in the distance for a little assist.

        • http://www.diyphotography.net/ udi tirosh

          thanks, added it to the post.

  • John Newton

    Yes, the people in the SUV taking pictures and not helping. Yeah, kind of pissed off my friend. He did receive a laceration on his back and several knots on the head from the elk’s head butts. Yeah, people need to be more reactive and help. He did manage to get a couple “interesting” prespectives of this young buck.

  • Christina

    I’m sorry, but so much of this was outright provocation whether it was intended to be so or not. At least it wasn’t a grown bull with a large antler spread. Would have ended very differently. I’m glad the man wasn’t hurt too bad. I’m not sure what other people could have done that would have been ‘helpful’ other than perhaps find a ranger or one of the Bugle Corps volunteers. The white SUV is fortunate the young fellow didn’t charge back at it. I’ve seen large bulls do just that in Yellowstone.

    • Robert

      Oh my, yes, that 300 lb. elk would have made mincemeat out of that 4000 lb. steel vehicle. smh

      • 7765

        they jump through your windshield, kill you, and total the car typically… and he would be more like 550 to 600 pounds

  • Cap Obvious

    I can only assume the genius never called for help, he’s still taking pictures like it happens all the time. And when the other genius in the car pulled up he stops down the road so the guy had to walk back to the car instead of pulling up between the elk and Einstein. It looked like he was in danger, grave danger, is there any other kind.

  • GWS

    This guy broke the cardinal rule when with wild animals – NEVER EVER TURN YOUR BACK on them – and he did it twice!!!

    • Stefan

      I’d say showing his side was the best he could do in this situation. Lowering his head and thereby mimicing the fighting gesture of the elk was most likely a worse idea…

  • 7765

    Excuse me, but why is this dumbass still chimping the photos he’s taking while he is 2 inches from becoming a shis kebab?

    Ok is this a stephen king thing where the animals are telling people to get the hell out of their woods? or a reaction to some musk cologne? or a reaction to photographer 4 days in the woods BO?

  • The Bogeyman

    That’s why you don’t bring a camera to an antler fight.