This is a sleek and athletic looking young male elk. He calls Yellowstone National Park his home, and was munching on dinner in this lush grassy area. This is probably the closest chance I will have to see a reindeer-like animal. Elk and reindeer are very similar in size, however elk fur is very sleek and shiny, mostly dark with a white bum, and with shaggy fur around their necks. This is clearly a male with his small antlers, that will grow much, much larger once he’s older. They are newly grown and still covered in a velvet-like skin which will dry and fall off in Autumn. Each year after mating season, the antlers will also fall off and grow again for the next mating season. With reindeer, the presence of antlers cannot be used to distinguish between them, as both males and females have antlers.
For other posts from Yellowstone National Park click here.
I was so lucky to visit Zion National Park over Thanksgiving weekend, and what a truly spectacular part of the world. There are so many white tailed deer everywhere you turn which was a delight to anyone with a camera. This was my first time seeing a deer with antlers, which of course signifies that this deer is a male. It was quite a delight to see males of various ages with juveniles having small protruding antlers of only a few inches long, to older males with antlers that are very large and elaborately branching. Interesting side fact is that male Chinese water deer do not have antlers, they have tusks and look incredibly strange. So anyway, I took the above photo of a very proud and glorious stag. What makes me laugh about this photo is the male deer hiding in the background, which actually looks more like a dog wearing antlers (with his puffy white cheeks and upwards pointed ears). What a cutie pie!