When I was out on a solo trip last week, I encountered a large number of elk. I've often seen signs of elk, but this was my first time actually seeing them and I wasn't 100% sure what to do.
I'd heard bugling throughout the day, but my first sighting came just after I finished eating dinner. I was sitting against a tree with my dog and an elk came out of some trees less than 50 feet away. It didn't even notice us until my dog started whining (luckily she was leashed), at which point the massive creature bounded away.
As the sun started to go down, I started hearing more and more elk bugling. Walking back to my tent, I scared away another elk on accident. And right after the sun went down, the elk bugling became even more frequent and close. After listening to them all for awhile and hearing them get closer, I started to be able to hear them run around the forest, huff and snort, and kick around dirt with their hooves. At this point, I was getting a little concerned I might get run over in my tent or charged in my sleep. I finally got out of my tent and started making some noise and yelling. At first, the elk (whose forms I could vaguely make out in places) just stood there. After jingling my dog's collar though they all ran away. I had thought that my dog's and mine smell would be enough to dissuade them from coming near, but I guess not.
Within an hour though the elk were back and the bugling just as loud. So I scared them off again. This repeated for a few hours before things finally quieted down. The next day, I saw about 8 elk withing my first 10 minutes of being on the trail, another two elk a mile later, and then 4 more over the next 13 miles.
In these situations, what is the best action to take with elk? What would you have done? Was my concern of being run over in my tent valid? I was camped in a relatively flat, medium to low density pine forest. Was this just a bad camping spot? Elk are certainly amazing and giant creatures and I hope to see more of them, I just want to be more knowledgeable for my next set of encounters.
Pretty sure this is one or two elk footprints:
Here were two guys with antlers I managed to get a quick shot of:
(I circled the elk in red because they're kind of hard to see)