Elk (also known as wapiti) are large prey animals which can be encountered in designated elk hunting grounds in each map. They are the second largest species within the deer family, Cervidae, in the world.
Each individual member of the herd generates a trail that becomes visible in scent vision, toggled by pressing the V key. These are dynamically generated according to wind direction; entering hunting grounds while downwind grants players the best chance of finding a trail. Similarly, ravens mark the locations of live herds by soaring high above their position in wait of an easy meal.
There are seven achievements associated with elk.
Elk are not solitary animals. They will gather to live, roam and graze together as a herd.
Each herd consists of nine members and will always include one male and eight females. Successfully hunting and bringing down an elk of either gender gives a varying chunk of experience points and a carcass which can be used as a food source, with which to replenish lost health and to gather extra food for pups. Difficulty affects the tiring rates of a running elk as well as the damage they are capable of dealing to the player when standing their ground.
The leading and sole male member of the herd, they are easily distinguished from their female counterpart due to their antlers, which will vary in appearance based on the season, and thicker necks. Bull elk are the strongest elk in the herd and will always stand their ground until weakened. Players would be wise to properly prepare themselves for a bull hunt; failure to do so risks serious injury or death.
All cow elk will follow this member indefinitely for as long as the herd remains spawned. The bull will turn and fight back if he is provoked while healthy. Only when sufficiently weakened will he turn tail and flee.
The female members of the herd, cow elk are easily distinguished by their lack of antlers and thinner necks. They are also much weaker than the male counterpart in that they deal less damage to the player with each attack. Weaker females - due to age or sickness - will always flee when approached by predators. Healthier females will always stand their ground and keep their attention on players or mates closest to them, only turning tail to flee for wolves to give chase when enough injury has been inflicted.
In Amethyst Mountain, a lone cow elk can be found near the player's spawn when starting a new game. Her health is the lowest for any elk encountered in the game, meaning she is old, sick, or weak. This makes her an easy kill. Strong cows will mirror the bull and stand their ground, but will promptly turn tail and flee after receiving a few bites.
- Main article: Carcass (2.7)#Elk carcasses
Depending on the difficulty setting, carcasses' spawn rates will vary. In the easiest difficulty, carcasses are plentiful, but nowhere near as common as they were in 2.5 and older. In the hardest difficulty, carcasses are rare.
A carcass will provide a moderate source of health recovery to players and sustenance for pups.
During Amethyst Mountain, there are two elk hunting grounds. The first herd is directly in the center of the three wolf territories, being inhabitants of the north-west area of Douglas Fir Forest. The second herd resides on the slopes to the north-western edge of The Burn.
During Slough Creek, there are three elk hunting grounds. All three are within reasonable distance of each player-inhabitable territory and both rival wolf packs. The first herd sits north of the Little Butte, north-west of the Lone Tree landmark, and directly south-east of Saddle Meadows. The second herd is perched north-east of the Old Oxbow and is directly south-west of Aspen Heights. The third herd resides on the east shore of the Sandbar Crossing and shares more or less the same distance for both East Creek and Bison Peak Cutoff to the east and south-east of its borders, respectively.
Players are now more strongly encouraged to hunt prey in order to provide themselves and their pack with food so as to ensure survival. Elk make ideal prey due to their moderate health and damage outputs. It is possible to take down all nine members with the right strategy provided kills are made within close proximity to the herd.
First and foremost, players will want to tackle the weakest members of the herd before moving on to the stronger individuals. The last target of the hunt should always be the bull -- avoid him at all costs until the rest of the herd has been taken down.
An ideal map for elk hunting would be Lost River, specifically the herd based in the middle of Downtown; elk are clumsier there and are more likely to get themselves trapped by running into buildings and tight spaces. Maps with larger and more open spaces will require more patience and better tactics.
Caution from the solo section can be thrown to the wind if playing in a pack with five or more players, as the damage received from all elk is more likely to be spread across players participating in the hunt than being focused on just one player.
- In the original teaser/promo video for Amethyst Mountain, wolves are seen snarling/growling at the cow elk they have surrounded. However, this interaction does not exist in-game and could not be performed by players. This was cut from the final game, having been removed for reasons unknown.
- Additionally, a cow elk is seen kicking away a wolf; although cow elk can kick at players in-game, players cannot jump at elk in such a manner, let alone be countered. This was likely done to add some drama to the trailer.
- Elk herds will behave differently during varying weather conditions and times of day.
- Cow elk never stray far from elk hunting grounds unless they have been chased far enough away from the herd.
- All elk will attempt to retrace their steps back to the territory from which they were chased if the hunt is abandoned.
- While possible in-game, in reality, one adult wolf cannot successfully hunt and kill an adult elk on its own without risking serious consequences such as injury or even death. Hunting large prey as a team is less dangerous than hunting solo -- if prey stands its ground and doesn't flee, wolves will soon lose interest and move on. A pack will typically hunt weak, old or sick elk, or any member unlucky enough to get caught.
- Predators other than the player or their mate will not attack prey animals regardless of how close they are.
- Interestingly, the carcasses of both sexes are represented by magenta scent plumes.
- With the introduction of version 2.7.3, the appearance of a bull's antlers will change depending on the season.
- ↑ Wikipedia • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elk
- ↑ http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/wolves_gray_hunting
- ↑ wolfquest.org • WolfQuest 2.7 Patch Releases | 19-Dec-2016