• Thursday , 6 August 2020

Elk vs. Photographer | Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Code Canyon

Update: I’ve been in contact with the photographer in the above video and we would both like to issue a statement regarding the news of the National Park Service’s decision to put the elk down.

My statement:
I am deeply saddened by the fate of the elk. It has certainly pulled a black cloud over this whirlwind “viral video” experience.

I spoke to the reporter who broke the story and she assured me the decision was based on a pattern of aggressive behavior that began prior to the incident documented in this video. The behavior was the result of visitors feeding the elk and conditioning them to seek food from humans. This video only serves as an example of the elk’s dangerous behavior, not an impetus to it.

Again, it brings me great sadness to learn of this beautiful animal’s demise and the unfortunate circumstances surrounding it.
I’m looking into a destination for proceeds from this video to help the NPS educate visitors on the dangers and consequences of feeding wildlife.

I also want to be clear that James, the photographer, was not complicit in a behavior that led to the elk’s demise, but rather was made an example of the result of such behaviors. The elk approached him from behind, likely looking for food as he was conditioned to do.

Statement from James (the photographer):
I love and respect animals and that’s why I photograph them and don’t hunt them. I am deeply hurt by the loss of such a beautiful creature that in its own way bonded with me. I looked forward to watching him grow to a mature bull as the years passed.

I’m truly heartbroken to know he is gone.

Original video description:

While photographing elk at sunrise in the Cataloochee Valley of Great Smoky Mountains National Park I turned around to see what appeared to be just a curious young bull sniffing a photographer’s camera. I snapped a few frames of the apparent harmless encounter.

But the elk became more interested in making trouble than simply the scent of a camera. He started physically harassing the photographer, escallating to full on head-butts.

I quickly switched the camera to video and let it roll (much of the time wondering when I should seriously consider intervening).

Most people who see this ask why the photographer seems to just take the abuse. I asked him in an email what was going through his head. This is his response:

“My first thoughts were “wow, he’s getting pretty damn close here.” But I’ve been up close before without incident. I hoped being still and passive would see him pass on. When he lowered his antlers to me, I wanted to keep my vitals protected and my head down. I felt that standing up would provoke him more and leave me more vulnerable to goring. I think that while protecting myself with my head down, having my head down was a signal that I was rutting with him. I was concerned at first, but when he started rearing back and lunging at me later on, I got scared and pissed off. That’s when I wagged my finger at him to cut that shit out. I was relieved to see the Ranger coming.

So I guess at some point if the Ranger hadn’t of pulled up, I would have had to disengage the best I could. I’ve joked with my friends that at least he took me for a buck and not a cow!”

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Original source

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  1. Justin Wunder
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    So nice to know that it can act normal in its own habitat and be put down… but child molesters and murderers don't got put down this really Makes me mad !

  2. Niklaus Manuel D
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    RESPECTFUL DISTANCE…GIMME A BREAK, THIS PHOGRAPHES SHOULD HAVE RETREATED IMMEDIATWLY…don't try to fool us, been there seen assholes like this phhographer retatrd in action

  3. Lenny Prosado
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    Beautiful creation. Seemed like every time the man bowed to hide his face the elk took it as a challenge. It was young , maybe a " teen" , hence the playful nature. I guarantee it was more play than aggression. Had it been aggressive kicking and head butting would've been the dish most served. Good to see that man and animal interaction though. Next!™

  4. Venom Quill
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    What a photographer does for his art. I"m showing this to my photography teacher, good God. This guy's dedication and intelligence. Sad the elk had to be put down, but it was inevitable and, unfortunately, mutually agreed upon- even by me.

  5. JUSTIN Charlton
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    Too bad the elk didn't kill the dumb fuck!!!! It would help clean the gene pool. What a fucking moron.

  6. Vault Boy
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    Meanwhile minarature race war happening on the comments

  7. Steve Borelli Photography
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    I would like to get ahold of the photographer

  8. dhdipa Truong
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    to take a photo or to be taken !

  9. Jon Lang
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    The Elk was trying to get you off the road.

  10. Charles Lee
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    Just to let everyone know, this elk was only playing. If it really wanted hurt someone, it would have easily. It was a subadult, teenager if you will. So that begs the question why did the NC Wildlife fish and game commission decide the animal deserved to have its life taken? They killed it after this video went viral. Don't believe the bogus press release they put out. Makes no since anyways. There is nothing beautiful about NC. Bunch of sociopaths.

  11. delano62
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    This is how Yogi and Boo Boo met their demise. Just out looking for pick-a-nick baskets, and the Ranger didn't like that. So he shot them.

  12. Niklaus Manuel D
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    sitting is the worst only topped by a human on all 4rs.being mistaken for a wolf..

  13. I is a wolf
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    People getting so emotional and angry at one goddamn elk. The elk is dead, so what? Shouldn't have acted so tough and had much more of the park to roam in, and could've found other males to tussle with. And the people have every right to be where they are. The world doesn't belong to just anyone, it belongs to all the creatures that live upon it. I appreciate animals, but I can barely stand animal rights activists.

    So you would be perfectly calm if an elk just came up to your kid or someone weaker and did what he did in the video? It is NOT fun to get headbutts from an animal with a MUCH stronger neck than your own, plus antlers that could impale you. But that's right, a lot of animal rights activists are a bunch of young people who hate their own species and children.

  14. Nadine Crupi
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52


  15. Nadine Crupi
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52


  16. The Shepard Of Suns
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    Brave man playing with his food like that.

  17. Drew McKinney
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    Need to set up dominance, head butt that elk like a man

  18. Brad Morrison
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    I hunt and have the utmost respect for the animals. You can hunt and respect animals. I know which elk this was, been there many times.

  19. Andrew Interrupted
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    A thinking person would have nudged the animal away with a vehicle.

  20. spikey 27
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    What's wrong with the dummy photographing from the GMC? They could have easily made the young elk scatter.

  21. archielabb
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    The poop in my pants would have scared off the elk.

  22. Dennis S
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    Come on play with me man!

  23. Tat Tvam Asi
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    YES the elk DID have to be put down because it was confusing people with male elk. If it had gone on to rutt with someone when fully mature it could have easily resulted in him killing someone.

  24. Stacie AnnaMarie
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    That person in the background should've yelled "KaKa KaKa" instead of watching the whole thing…help a brother out, yo!

  25. samholmy
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    Se ele pega um embalo, espeta na barriga e sai a ponta nas costas….

  26. Mustard Seed
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    phew! that was great.

  27. John P
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    luckily the elk was young and just wanting to play

  28. oo7moses
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    "Fight me, sir."

  29. juan
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    "regarding the news of the National Park Service's decision to put the elk down", this is why don't put on youtube your great videos keep them for you !

  30. David Curran
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    Time to start putting down people.

  31. Fo Reel
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    I think the dumb photographer looked like he was challenging the elk from the animal's point of view, because he kept putting his head down like elk do when they're gonna ram somebody……….shoulda slowly moved right away.

  32. Zimtbiss1
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    What shocks me is the fact that people who are safe in their cars do not help. They should drive near the man in order to drive the elk away. The animal could have stabbed him with the antlers and people stand there and watch. Unbelievable.

  33. Macs M.
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    This was asinine.

  34. Jacob Savala
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    This is not the animals territory anymore. The world is mankinds territory. Let the animals adapt to my .500S&W if they try to get froggy when i'm minding my own business.

  35. Nancy Q
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52


  36. S C
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    Baiting odor for wildlife photos in rut.

  37. canada
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52


  38. Lurid Phaesporia
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    this is some scary stuff

  39. CJ and Auntie Yaya
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    I would have yelled over to the photographer that I was about to honk my horn and for him to be ready to yell… Then I'd blare my horn and slowly drive closer. The elk will get startled and leave. Sad how people are willing to take pictures when someone is in extreme danger.

  40. Anthony Johnson
    October 25, 2017 at 10:52

    White people

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