Black Gold Sights - Pure Gold
Do cows lead or bulls push?
Elk
Contributors to this thread:
cnelk 23-Jul-19
Dirk Diggler 23-Jul-19
3under 23-Jul-19
otcWill 23-Jul-19
TrapperKayak 23-Jul-19
elkmtngear 23-Jul-19
Mike-TN 23-Jul-19
Ucsdryder 23-Jul-19
jdee 23-Jul-19
'Ike' (Phone) 23-Jul-19
wyobullshooter 23-Jul-19
Lost Arra 23-Jul-19
cnelk 23-Jul-19
IdyllwildArcher 23-Jul-19
Brotsky 23-Jul-19
Norseman 23-Jul-19
badbull 23-Jul-19
WapitiBob 23-Jul-19
JSW 23-Jul-19
Paul@thefort 23-Jul-19
Bou'bound 23-Jul-19
Jaquomo 23-Jul-19
trophyhill 23-Jul-19
Rickm 23-Jul-19
ElkNut1 23-Jul-19
BULELK1 24-Jul-19
TrapperKayak 24-Jul-19
TrapperKayak 24-Jul-19
TrapperKayak 24-Jul-19
TrapperKayak 24-Jul-19
TrapperKayak 24-Jul-19
TrapperKayak 24-Jul-19
cnelk 24-Jul-19
cnelk 24-Jul-19
Grey Ghost 24-Jul-19
ElkNut1 25-Jul-19
Mulehorn 25-Jul-19
From: cnelk
23-Jul-19
There are 'lead' cows, we know that. Lots of references to it. But we also see lots of references that bulls 'push' cows certain directions.

Which is it?

From: Dirk Diggler
23-Jul-19
Cows lead, bulls "chase". JMO

From: 3under
23-Jul-19
During the rut bulls push ,rest of the year cows lead .

From: otcWill
23-Jul-19
Bulls just an annoyance to the lead cow who is going where she is going regardless. Bulls just pester. They don't push anything other than themselves on cows. Shoott the lead cow and it's like you shot the brain out of the herd

From: TrapperKayak
23-Jul-19
I've seen both, depends on the situation. Undisturbed, cows lead the rest. I have seen a huge herd of 250 elk not disturbed lead by a large cow, and several cows and spikes next, then subordinate bulls, and finally, the monster herd bull. Very cool to watch. Other times, a large bull disturbed (by me, cow calling and bugling ineffectively), the bull finally turned and pushed the cows away and tried to butt them with antlers to get 'm movin'. The cows alert the bull by barking, and then the bull herds them all in the direction he wants them to go, and follows them up. I have seen that with the herd bull more than once.

From: elkmtngear
23-Jul-19
I've watched herd bulls vocally move the entire herd back into the timber when they're out feeding. But, they seem to always follow the herd when on the move.

I agree with Dirk, cows determine herd location, bulls are glued to the overwhelming smell of estrus...

From: Mike-TN
23-Jul-19
Bulls push (gather) to keep the herd from being scattered and risking another bull taking his cow.

From: Ucsdryder
23-Jul-19
2 years ago I watched a bull with a handful of cows right at daylight. The bull seemed to be pushing them into the timber from the meadow they were in. Hard to tell if he was pushing or being led, but it sure seemed like he was trying to get out of that meadow and into the cover of the timber.

From: jdee
23-Jul-19
Middle of the rut when a bull wants his cow gathered and moved on he moves them. A bull will chase cows around in a meadow like a cowboy on a horse, gather them up and off they go. If they are rutting but only grazing some days cows just keep grazing and the bull might just stand there and bugle. I have a place over looking a big meadow surrounded by woods and sometimes just sit on the side of the hill and watch them for several hours at a time all season if I don’t have a tag.

23-Jul-19
Good question...

23-Jul-19
Bulls push cows away from other bulls, and they’ll push a wandering cow back into the main herd. However, in my experience, the lead cow decides where/when the herd moves 99% of the time.

From: Lost Arra
23-Jul-19
This probably doesn't answer the question but somewhere I have a photo I took of a lead cow ahead of about 30 other cows and calves. She is standing nose to nose with a 6x6 herd bull. She wants to lead them west; he wants them to turn around and go east. He had been pacing back and forth in front of them bugling the whole time. They went west.

From: cnelk
23-Jul-19
I dont think its much different than what happens at home with you married guys....

The cow barks the orders and the rest follow. Then, every once in awhile, the bull gets fed up and gives her the horn

23-Jul-19
That's about right Brad

From: Brotsky
23-Jul-19
cnelk, if it's like real married life then lets be realistic. There's no horns being thrown. The bulls just go out and drink beer once a week with each other and talk about how much their cows hate them before they have to go back home by 10 because they have to get up in the morning and go to Bed Bath and Beyond.

From: Norseman
23-Jul-19
I know for sure, if you bump them, the cows lead. Lots of experience and first hand knowledge. 8)

From: badbull
23-Jul-19
I have seen what jdee has witnessed and been surprised at how tight a herd of cows can be kept in check. Maybe 30 or 40 cows in an area the size of an average subdivision house lot being held there by a big bull. Very interesting thing to see how elk act in the wild during the rut. Good thread.

From: WapitiBob
23-Jul-19
I followed a bugling bull for over 2 hours one morning, he stopped and called back to his cows occasionally, waiting for them to catch up, then off he'd go again. He never pushed the cows and they never lead. I've seen other scenarios as well. Kind of depends on what's actually happening with the herd.

From: JSW
23-Jul-19
The answer is both. As stated above, a bull will try to keep his cows "rounded up" and away from other bulls. I've always stated that bulls bugle to keep track of other bulls so they can stay away from them. While a bull will push the cows and move them when he wants them to move, he's really just telling them to keep moving. They are almost always going to go where the lead cow wants to go. It's just a matter of how quick they get there. If another bull gets too close the herd bull will get them moving to avoid a confrontation. If the other bull gets really close, then they might have to duke it out to see who is in charge. If an approaching bull is really the boss, the herd bull will often just let him have them without a fight. I've seen it many times. Then the defeated bull walks off bugling his head off looking for another harem to acquire. That is what makes elk hunting so exciting.

From: Paul@thefort
23-Jul-19

Paul@thefort's embedded Photo
Paul@thefort's embedded Photo
Paul@thefort's embedded Photo
Paul@thefort's embedded Photo
Hunt before the rut when the bulls are in bachelor groups and the cows are still with calves. Then, no issue either way-- no leading, no pushing.

From: Bou'bound
23-Jul-19
Some lead and some Push

From: Jaquomo
23-Jul-19
Bulls "push" cows to wherever the lead cow wants to take the herd.

From: trophyhill
23-Jul-19
I've witnessed a bull lead and he was not being pushed. He was also making cow sounds as he was leading.

Fact? Or fiction? ;)

From: Rickm
23-Jul-19
Yes and yes. I watched a solid 320 bull with a herd of 15 cows and calves above treeline push them all into the rocks. There was a smaller bull trying to cut in. When the cows got trapped by the rocks the lead cow took them back down past both bulls. They can try but when push came to shove the lead cow won.

From: ElkNut1
23-Jul-19
It goes both ways! Under routine situations the Lead Cow will run the show. She can also usher the harem away from a threat as can the herd bull. A herd bull can also be the 1st to recognize a threatening situation as well & hit the harem with a Round Up Bugle & away they go, no if &'s or butts! It's all situational!

ElkNut/Paul

From: BULELK1
24-Jul-19
I'm with the witnessed both group of guys.

For sure when glassing a herd from a distance and just watching them be elk.

Good luck, Robb

From: TrapperKayak
24-Jul-19

TrapperKayak's embedded Photo
TrapperKayak's embedded Photo
If you want to see unhunted elk rut behavior, be the first to arrive early morning at the main meadow in RMNP and there it all plays out.

From: TrapperKayak
24-Jul-19

TrapperKayak's embedded Photo
TrapperKayak's embedded Photo
And in town (EP). This boy was very busy that morning keeping cows in sight and smaller bulls at bay.

From: TrapperKayak
24-Jul-19

TrapperKayak's embedded Photo
TrapperKayak's embedded Photo
He chased this spike right off someone's driveway next to where we were parked, and get got too close so we got the heck outta dodge.

From: TrapperKayak
24-Jul-19

TrapperKayak's embedded Photo
TrapperKayak's embedded Photo
He chased this spike right off someone's driveway next to where we were parked, and get got too close so we got the heck outta dodge.

From: TrapperKayak
24-Jul-19

TrapperKayak's embedded Photo
TrapperKayak's embedded Photo
This one kept well clear of him while still trying to home in on one of his cows. Its amazing to watch their interaction.

From: TrapperKayak
24-Jul-19

TrapperKayak's embedded Photo
TrapperKayak's embedded Photo
He wasn't feeding that's for sure.

From: cnelk
24-Jul-19

cnelk's embedded Photo
cnelk's embedded Photo

From: cnelk
24-Jul-19

cnelk's embedded Photo
cnelk's embedded Photo

From: Grey Ghost
24-Jul-19
In my experience, it’s much like going to church on Sunday. When momma says it’s time to leave, daddy rounds up the family and they go.

Matt

From: ElkNut1
25-Jul-19
That can be true under normal situations but when crap hits the fan & there's a threatening situation that the bull has noticed he can take charge in an instant to avoid this issue! Again, it's situational!

For instance, you've heard a bull bugle so you move in closer, you feel you're at 125 yards from him, conditions are a bit noisy from it being dry. You notice through the thick timber there are a couple of cows, you move closer as slow & quietly as possible but are making some noise as you walk, you decide to give a few soft cow mews to cover your walking, out of nowhere there's the bull between you & the cows at 60 yards staring in your direction, crap he heard your calls & focused on you & now sees you; He senses a threat and issues a Round Up Bugle, he gives a 2nd one 10 seconds later denoting urgency & off all the elk go! It's situational!

ElkNut/Paul

From: Mulehorn
25-Jul-19
+1 Jaquomo....well said

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