By Michael Amado 

As most of you know, Christmas is right around the corner. Christmas traditions run deep in most cultures. Americans know Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer as a popular character of the holiday season. Reindeer live in the high-elevation tundra of Canada and Alaska. Therefore, the North American Elk can be mistaken as reindeer when seen by kids of those who live below the Canadian-US border. The North America Elk is a large-antlered animal that roams the high elevation of the Colorado Plateau and Northern states of America. At full-grown length, antlers can weight up to 40 pounds and 5 feet in length.  Elk can reach 6 to 10 feet in height and range from 400-800 pounds. These animals are just shy from being the same size as full-grown horses. 

The animals are beautiful in nature and are among some of the most adaptive creatures on the planet. According to National Park Service, the elk is “the most photographed” animal in Yellowstone National Park. The antlers of several male elks can reach sizes that seem so unfathomable, which create a desire for capturing images of nature’s greatest work. 

Next time you take a ski trip to Colorado, do not mistake the North American Elk for the flying reindeer of the fairy tales. These animals are graceful and magnificent in their abilities to beat mother nature and are a sight to see. The best times of the year to look for Elk include the months of September and November, as they prepare for the mating season. 

The bull elks (males) can be heard for miles as they bugle to notify their status and location in the area. From personal experience, I was given goosebumps when a bull elk bugled 30 yards from my vehicle. It is extremely loud and unbelievably high pitched. It is an experience that money cannot buy. Once you hear one, you will never confuse them with the cute little reindeer who pull Santa’s sleigh again.

Michael Amado is a senior at the University of Saint Mary majoring in Digital Communications.