Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Elk “Battle” Ends With Redwood Tragedy

Elk bugling

Elk bugling

┬ęBert Gildart: Life for bull elk in the fall is not always one filled with fun and games. While other species are preparing for winter, bull elk are struggling to keep competing bulls out of their territory. As you might have seen in several of my recent posts (*Elk 1; *Elk 2), they do so with some fighting, some displays, and perhaps most of all, simply by letting others know through their magnificent bugles that this is their territory, stay out!

But in their fury to keep others away, often they attack trees, the ground and even huge logs. Most of the time, these methods of venting anger and frustration ends with the bull simply walking away. But not always, and once an incredible tragedy played out in one of America’s most magnificent national parks.


As shown here, Kim Andrychowicz, a volunteer at Redwoods National Park when we passed through several years ago, showed us the way in which elk frustration can sometimes turn to death.

So vigorously did the bull shove this tree that it soon became entwined. Unable to extricate itself, the animal died.

The “battle” shown here is not confined to the redwoods, and a museum in Glacier National Park has on display the locked antlers of two buck deer. In the fury of their battle, the two animals had pushed and shoved so hard, the tines became interlocked.

Death by ensnarment

Death by ensnarment in a redwood

Events described here don’t happen often, and one might hope that a mountain lion or some other predator ended the animal’s life quickly, else it (the elk in this case) would have died a lingering death from starvation.

Circumstances of the elk’s fate astounded us, but it also showed us the capability of redwoods. Because the species can grow at the rate of one foot per year, the trunk grew up around several portions of the antlers while the tree was still alive, leaving the elk’s tines exposed and protruding–and generating in us yet greater awe for the growth phenomena of all redwood trees.

Of course, the tragedy also highlighted the drama of fall, and the ferocious battles that can sometimes result between bull elk.


*Where “Ragtags” Became First-rate Soldiers


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