Wildlife Photographer Revisits Viral Elk Goring As A Reminder To Keep Your Distance: “Be Safe Out There”

Bull elk gores cow
Joe Subolefsky

This time of year, bull elk are not to be messed with.

A couple years ago, wildlife photographer Joe Subolefsky captured an incredible shot of a rutting bull elk brutally goring a cow elk in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in the Cataloochee Valley of North Carolina.

In the midst of the rut, he noticed a number of bull elks locking horns. However, once the fighting stopped and the pursuit of a female resumed, one bull in particular was too fired up for his own good.

The bull attempted to mount a nearby cow, but when she dodged his advances, he positioned himself to her side, and with his head down and his antlers out, charged forward, goring the cow.

She died… but the photo went pretty viral:

And then recently, Joe shared a video looking back on the day that he captured the amazing scene.

You can hear him say in the video:

“Photographing elk again this morning. We tell people to get back all the time, and here’s the reason.”

In the footage, you can see the bull elk violently goring a female, sending his massive wrack of antlers straight into her.

Subolefsky believes the bull’s antlers may have punctured the female right in the heart.

He said:

“She went right over here and died. Sad to see. Part of nature. Would have happened whether we were here or not.”

Needless to say, this is the ugly part of nature, and the perfect example of just how powerful and violent wildlife can be. Joe is revisiting this moment as an imporant reminder for folks… whether it’s hunters, hikers, or just people visiting our country’s national parks… bull elk can be very dangerous, especially during the rut.

Consider yourself artistically warned:

“I photographed this bull killing a cow a few years ago, but it’s a great reminder to be safe out there. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve suggested somebody back up or move and gotten a dirty look.

Unless you spend a ton of time afield with these animals and understand their body language most people are clueless that they are in danger. Fifty years afield and I still see something new or learn something every time I’m out there.

Please pay attention and stay safe out there. Feel free to share.”

Another photo from that day:

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock