A bugle can be deadly for an elk. 

The eerie high-pitch screams, a telltale Wyoming sound of fall, are how bulls advertise their fitness to prospective cows they seek to breed. But there’s a distinct downfall to the bugle: the sound, audible from a long way off, gives away prized bulls’ whereabouts to human hunters and other predators. 

That wasn’t a worry for this six-by-six bull who was bugling away on a still morning along the northwest shoreline of Yellowstone Lake. Although it was elk hunting season in much of Wyoming, no such pursuit is permitted inside the protective bounds of Yellowstone National Park. 

Between bites of grass, the big bull tilted his head and gave into instinct every few minutes.

Mike Koshmrl

Mike Koshmrl reports from Jackson on state politics and Wyoming's natural resources. Prior to joining WyoFile, he spent nearly a decade covering the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s wild places and creatures...

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  1. A few years ago, shortly after retiring and moving to Wyoming, I went elk hunting my brother. Now to be sure I had heard cow elk chirps and bull bugles long before courtesy of YouTube. But hearing it “live” and in the backcountry? There’s likely not a more eerie, yet beautiful sound.

  2. You allude to one of the downfalls of hunting, which is a useful game management tool. Some hunters are trophy hunters who are effectively culling the best of the herd. This seems to me to be counter to evolution where the biggest, most hardy are the animals that propogate the species.