Elk Rut Behavior - Herding and Courting

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Elk Rut Behavior - Herding and Courting

While Dominant Elk Bull's display will attracts cows, bulls will also herd females to try to keep them from escaping to a rival Bull. The more a Big Bull works and advertises his dominance, the less likely cows will leave him.

Elk bulls will continue to charm females in their harems with bugling and displays, but it is the cows that will size up the bulls in the area and decide who looks most attractive. Cows do not want to be harassed by younger bulls that constantly chase down unattached females, so a big dominant herd bull that keeps younger bulls at a distance gives cows the peace they want to keep feeding for the winter ahead.

A Big Herd Bull will cut off cows that have ventured too far away, rushing at her with an aggressive display. The herd Bull will also use a similar technique to move the harem to safety, to an area to bed down, or simply away from another competitive bull.

When cows comes into heat, a herd bull performs courting behavior that is different from his herding behavior. The herd bull will now approach cows slowly and carefully, with antlers high and tongue flicking, doing everything he can to win her over. If a cow is not ready to mate, she will move away with her head low, weaving her neck side to side and the bull will stop his immediate courting. Cows will accept and tolerate the herd bull’s behavior when they are ready.
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