DOWNTOWN at MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS
John and I checked into our room at Mammoth Hot Springs. This is close to the Yellowstone entrance at Gardiner, Montana. Mammoth has a reputation of being the "place to be" during rut......and it did not disappoint! Truly unbelievable.
The elk are not scared of humans around the hotel. This makes it dangerous because during rut they may decide that you are competition and decide to charge. The Park Rangers train for rut and human crowds. They keep up with how many bulls are bugling and where they are and tell each other over walkie talkies. They tell you where to run if one charges you and they have speakers in their cars with the sound of elk horns clashing (they used them while we were there but I did not ask John what was the purpose).
So far, in 2012, 50 cars have had serious damage by elk horns!
That afternoon, as the sun began to go down, we noticed a group of elk moving up around the houses that are downtown and people began to gather to watch.
It is amazing to see all the cows that one bull elk can keep gathered up. Any other bull around will cause a fight. On this afternoon there were 3 bulls. The 1st bull came in from the valley and had his "harem" around the buildings, the 2nd bull started bugling up on a mountain in front of the hotel and started moving his herd toward the town and the 3rd bull was what they call a "satellite bull" and he was bugling from the top of the mountain behind the hotel. A satellite bull does not have a hard of cows. they are usually young and are just interested in getting to a cow in another herd while the bull is tired.
When all 3 bulls headed for the center of town it was like the demonstrations you see at amusement parks of gunfighters. It looked like "The Shootout at the OK CORRAL" The Park Rangers are screaming at the people....it gets a little scary but...oh so amazing.
UMMMM...one of the pictures is a little.....maybe "R" rated. This is how the cow lets the bull know that she is ready! Who knew
As these huge animals, with even more huge antlers, were just walking down the street.....I kept thinking about the TV show "Northern Exposure". In the introduction a elk or maybe a moose was walking right down main street. I remember thinking that really wouldn't happen......hmmmmm