Want to see elk in the wild? Most likely, you will in Yellowstone, where Roosevelt elk have traditionally had the name of “wapiti.”
They often concentrate around Mammoth Hot Springs and Madison Valley, especially in spring and fall. Huge migrations bring them from lower elevations to higher grassy zones in Yellowstone in spring. In fall, they return to their wintering ranges. Often, their lengthy migration routes cross immense mountain ranges.
Last May to early June is the time to see the newborn elk. The unscented wee ones retain spots throughout summer as camouflage from predators. Be wary of getting too close; female elk will fiercely defend their young. Males will begin to grow their annual antlers into huge racks.
In early fall, the rut changes the sprawling loose herds with the antics of the mating ritual. Bulls take up antler-battles to threaten or establish dominance over other males. They also honk out a bugling sound to attract females into their harem and state their whereabouts to other males. At night, you can often hear the bugling resound past midnight. When watching elk in rut, maintain a distance of at least 25 yards for safety.
Bulls can weigh up to 900 pounds. Their antlers, which turn to bone in fall, can weigh up to 40 pounds.