Photographer Captures Amazing (And Kind Of Hilarious) Photos Of Elk Attacking Family At Arizona Park

Elk attack arizona
Craig Miller

It’s one thing to get attacked by an animal in the wild, but it’s a humbling thing when it happens in a residential area.

It’s really the ultimate reminder that we as humans took over wild areas, and built homes and towns and cities… but wildlife is still bound to roam through and well… act wild.

Payson Roundup says such an incident happened at a park near Payson, Arizona.

A local wildlife photographer, Craig Miller, caught it all in a series of photos.

Can you imagine being a kid out on the playground, having the time of your life, only to come face to face with a bull elk. No, thank you.

Yes, this elk is just a spike, but the images really capture the size difference between a young elk and people in the park. Clearly, towering over even the adult in the photos.

Craig, first had spotted the elk on the volleyball courts from a distance, where he was going at it with the lines on the court. He then watched him makes his way to another area of the park, where the elk found a mother and her two children.

The elk then got confused and thought he needed to spar these folks.

Craig summed up the events with the series of photographs and a bit of color:

“A fun day at Rumsey Park gone bad, really bad. This lone spike bull made his way this afternoon onto the beach volleyball courts at Rumsey Park, the same ones that will host the Longhorn beach volleyball team this spring.

It didn’t take long for the bull to begin playing in the sand, jumping around and “sparring” with the boundary lines. After the two-year-old got himself all worked up, he moseyed over to the adjacent playground, and that’s when things took a quick turn for the not-so-good.

A mother (I assume) with two young children, stood just outside of the nearby playground, watching the elk came closer and closer.”

Big mistake…

He continues:

“When just a few feet separated the bull from the mom and her children, then behind her back, the two-pronged bull lowered his antlers, a show of behavior that he expected his “opponent” to join him in scrimmage.

The rest of the very scary story can be seen in the pictures I’ve posted. I thought long and hard about whether or not to post this pictorial story. From experience, I relate to the terror the mom and kids must have gone through.

Thank the good Lord above that the kids were able to run away from danger and mom was able to get behind a tree.

We must remember that, as much as most of us love seeing the beautiful elk roam our neighborhoods, parks and roads, the elk are wild creatures, without the reasoning capacity that we humans have.”

The end result are these pretty incredible, high quality photos of the elk attack, which ended up being completely harmless to the family… thankfully.

The photographer also shared some things to remember when you’re in the presence of elk:

Here are some points to remember, when encountering elk, that just may help you avoid the type of serious experience this family went through today.

Keep your distance, don’t approach to close and back off quickly if an elk approaches you. Have an escape plan in mind before getting out your cell phone or camera. Where can I retreat that is safe? My pickup is always near enough that I can run behind or hop into.

I debated about whether or not to post this pictorial. I know, from my own personal experience, that this mom had to be thinking, in this whirlwind moment, that she and/or her children, were going to die.

I decided to go ahead and share these pictures in the hope that maybe someone else may be sparred this family’s fear.

I hope that responders will take this to heart and be kind with your comments.”

The photos start with the bull going after those volleyball lines. Then goes to photos captured of him coming at the mother as the kids run away. The final photo looks as though the mother is begging for it to stop.


This is a solid reminder that wildlife is wild. Unexpected and unpredictable things can happen when you encounter them… always keep your distance.

Thankfully, these folks were able to get to safety without being harmed… shoutout to Craig for capturing the wild encounter with such artistry.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock