I spent the last week in Estes Park, Colorado, where the elk rut is in
full-swing. Several thousand elk descend upon the town outside Rocky
Mountain National Park each winter, and we saw single bulls with harems
of up to thirty cow elk bedding down in fields, wandering through town,
and acting generally oblivious to humans and cars. Every tree in town
is surrounded by wire fence to protect it from elk.
One one drive up into the park, we found this lone radio-collared bull
scent marking a sapling in a grove of trees. He was rubbing the broken
tree stem with the forehead gland between his antlers, and then licking
the tree where he had rubbed. This went on for as long as we watched
him, at least 20 minutes in the same spot.
The mule deer in the area are used to humans, and this one was munching
on vegetation 50 feet off our trail.