Elk are large mammals that can weigh from 600-1100 pounds. They are the second largest in the Cervidae or deer family, next to moose. They can be found mostly in mountain pastures in the summer and in dense wooded areas in the winter. They are grazers who eat plants, grasses, and woody vegetation. The buck has a dark brown mane on the throat and a many tined antler. The main beam of the antler can be five feet long and a mature elk will have six tines on each side. They mark their territories with their antlers by stripping the bark off trees. Elk are primarily nocturnal, but most of their activity is at dusk and dawn. A bull can run up to 35 miles per hour and they are strong swimmers as well. The elk are unique in that they will vocalize in various ways. Young elk will squeal. A female or cow will neigh at her calves. The buck has an alarm call that is a sharp barking snort. The buck will also “bugle” or “whistle” when they want to challenge another bull or as a call of domination to cows. This call goes from a bellow to an immediate loud shrill scream and ends with a grunt. This is very loud and carries lover long distances.
The elk roamed across parts of the United States and Canada, there were once thought to be around ten million individuals. They provided meat for food, hides for clothing, antlers or bones for tools, and teeth for jewelry. When the European settler arrived, their numbers began to decline. The settlers used them as a resource for staples like food, clothing, and tools, but also they killed them for eating their crops and the grazing in their livestock areas. They were also being hunted for their antlers and teeth, to sell for currency. Elk are also called Wapiti, which is Native American. In Shawnee it means white rump.