Photographs from a sunrise trip into Cataloochee Valley. This Bull Elk was proudly protecting his herd of cows and calves.
Yes, he did appear to be strutting quite proudly in front of us, though that is really more behavior making it clear to us to leave his herd alone. Notice the one broken horn on his right antler, probably from a clash with another bull as they were each making claims to territory and cows.
He was placing himself between us and his herd, making his claim quite clear. All of these photos are taken at 400mm, so we were a respectful distance away. Being too close is dangerous and a violation.
Despite their size, the bull bugling, as shown above, is a fairly high pitched sound.