These ladies are no fools, they and their calves are lounging where it is nice and warm. After all, where would you want to hang out when the temperature drops? That’s right at the hot springs. What better place to sit around and chew your cud? But where are the boys? Well, with this group there is only one boy and he is busy making sure no others come around because September is the middle of the elk rut. During the rut male elk guard their group of females to prevent other males from mating with the females. This is an exhausting time of the year for the males. They don't sleep or eat during most of the rut. For about a half an hour before I took these pictures, I could here the male bugling and finally he stepped out from behind the trees.
Female elk ovulate in response to a variety of stimuli such as hearing the male bugle, and seeing and smelling him. Males also bugle to announce their presence to other males in the area.