Elk hunting has never been easy, but hunters may be surprised which gender is more difficult to bag.
Cow elk live longer lives than their male counterparts. Some cows have been found to live over the age of 20. On the other hand, bulls are lucky to live until the age of five.
According to one professor, bagging a cow elk over age ten can be nearly impossible.
So why such a significant age disparity between the genders?
Cows, of course, are less targeted by hunters. However, it is when they become targeted that they wise up incredibly fast. Combine that with a cow elk entourage and they nearly become invincible.
Because of the cow elk's longevity, researchers at the University of Alberta and Swedish Species Information Center have been studying their behavior. What they found were that the cows continuously altered their methods of survival depending on the situation.
According to Henrik Thrufjell, a Swedish research specialist who participated in the study, says they know how to avoid hunters. As pressure increased, so did their ability to respond. During bowhunting, they congregated to cliffs, unlike during rifle season when inclines made them more vulnerable to being shot.
According to the scientists, witnessing a member of their group fall also increases the rate of response, which is important since cow elk tend to favor herds.
Their conclusion? Not everything is instinct. Elk really can learn.
Unfortunately, due to the heavy pressure, a majority of bull elk don't get the opportunity to wisen up.