Canadian Species Spotlight - The Elk

The elk is the second largest member of the deer family; only the moose is larger. Bull elk grow large antlers every year, which they use to spar with other bulls during the rut each fall. In the late winter, the antlers drop off and new antlers start to grow.

When antlers are growing, they are covered in dark brown fuzz, called velvet. This protects and nourishes the soft antlers with blood and nutrients until they are fully grown. In August the antlers harden. The bulls will rub the velvet off and polish their antlers on tree trunks and shrubs.

The rut is the breeding season for ungulates. It begins in the fall, usually after the first few frosty nights. Elk are known for their distinctive bugling, which sounds like a high-pitched howl. Bull elk bugle during the rut to attract females and to challenge other males.

Elk graze on grasses as well as browse leaves from shrubs. They prefer dry, arid habitat spotted with deciduous trees such as trembling aspen or balsam poplar. They like a combination of large grassy meadows, with nearby forest cover.

There are an estimated 300-400 wild elk in the Yukon. They are descended from elk introduced from Elk Island National Park in Alberta.

If you want to go photograph the elk, please see our workshops and tours to the Yukon,


Kevin A Pepper

Kevin is a photographer and educator based in Waterloo, Ontario. His first love is photographing nature, regardless of the season or weather condition; the Ontario landscape and its wildlife are his inspiration. But you will also see other styles of photography in his portfolio. From street photography to urban exploration of abandoned buildings and architecture, he loves to capture it all with his camera for his corporate clients and his growing personal portfolio. Kevin’s images have been featured in Canadian Nature Photographer, PHOTONews Canada, Photo Technique Magazine, The London Free Press, The Weather Network, and National Geographic Online. His diverse client list includes the City of Cambridge, Olympus, GORE Mutual, TVO, and African Lion Safari. Kevin also operates “Northof49 Photography”, a company launched in 2012 dedicated to teaching amateur photographers through International and Canadian-based workshops. In the coming year, Kevin will be leading workshops in Iceland, Mongolia, Tanzania, Venezuela, Provence, and numerous destinations across Canada. Website: