Wyoming Elk Are Just Big Kids, They Love Splashing in the Mud
If you've ever seen Elk or know anything about them, you know they sometimes look muddy and there is a great reason for that. These gigantic animals will wallow in mud holes. Splashing and rolling around in mud is a good way to cool off, keep bugs away or signal that you're "single and ready to mingle"
During the rut (mating season) for Elk, the male Elk (Bull) will wallow in mud holes to advertise his availability and let the ladies know he's primed up and ready to rock. When they are wallowing, they are splashing the mud, water and urine around giving them an undeniable smell. Depending on where you are and how quickly the rut comes in, you may see active wallows beginning in August until the rut is winding down in mid fall.
If you're not sure what "wallowing" actually is, the definition from Google's English Dictionary
(chiefly of large mammals) roll about or lie relaxed in mud or water, especially to keep cool, avoid biting insects, or spread scent.
Since we're rapidly approaching rut and prime wallow season, if you're hanging out in Elk Country there's a good chance you'll see this interesting practice. Wyoming Game and Fish have many trail cameras set up strategically all over the state, so they can catch great moments like when an Elk Cow decides to splash around a little.
When the Bull Elk are wallowing to get that "oh so fresh" scent on them, they will spend lots of time doing it. They may actually hit up a few different wallows and they always make sure they don't miss a spot! The video below is from a couple years ago, but shows you exactly how intense they get when getting primed for the rut.