Elk are also known as "Wapiti", which is an American Indian name meaning "white deer". Males are known as bulls and females are known as cows. Elk are the second largest member of the deer family after moose.
Physical Traits: Full-grown bulls can exceed 1000 pounds and stand well over 5' - 6' at the shoulder. Elk cows can reach 400 - 800 pounds and over 4' at the shoulder. Despite their immense size, Elk are fleet-footed, graceful, terrific swimmers and can run over 30mph.
Mating and the Rut: Elk are generally passive animals and although human attacks are rare, they do occur. An attack is generally spurred by someone getting too close to an Elk during the rutting season. The "rutting season" is when male Elk enter the herd to mate with females. This "rutting" period generally occurs between August - November and if you listen close, you can hear the high-pitched "whistling" or "bugling" of male Elk calling to their female counterparts. Elk are polygamous and can mate with as many as 50 cows in a season.
Elk Antlers: Elk have huge antlers. For most of the year, an Elk's giant antlers are encased in a velvet skin nourished with blood and nutrients. As they finish growing, and when the rutting season hits, they will rub their antlers into the dirt and against trees in order to remove the velvet skins which reveal the boney antler racks beneath.
Elk Tracks average over 4" in length and 3" in width. Although difficult to distinguish from deer tracks, Elk tracks are longer and wider than those of a common deer which is one way to tell the difference. An Elk's scat consists of a pile of round brownish pellets and will also tend to be much bigger than that of a deer. Another easy way to spot an Elk from a deer is to look for its whitish or yellowish colored rear-end. In general, Elk are much bigger than deer, and size alone is a good indicator of which animal you are viewing.