Big Kahuna

Photo Credit: Rick Martinez

The photo is a still taken from a video by Rick Martinez. Find the full video below. 

After over a decade of commanding territory in Estes Park, the famous "Big Kahuna" elk was reportedly found dead over the weekend, according to an announcement from the Elk in Estes Park Facebook group. 

"The King has fallen! Debatably the most photographed bull in the country has laid to rest," said photographer Andrew Sanders in an Instagram post. Sanders was with the group people that found the elk's carcass. 

Some reports suggest that the majestic bull was killed and eaten by a mountain lion. Though, with the elk being at least 11 years old, it is possible that it died of natural causes before being eaten. Free-roaming elk tend to have a lifespan of 10-13 years in the wild.

"He brought great joy to so many over the years with his show of dominance during the rut. This past fall he suffered a number of injuries, which in the end, contributed to his fall. Although he made it through the harsh Rocky Mountain winter, in the end, his injuries coupled with a late snow storm singled him out as an easy target," Sanders said. 

Big Kahuna is often compared to another massive bull that called Estes Park home around thirty years ago, named Samson. At the time of his death, Samson was estimated to be close to 1000 pounds. What Samson and Kahuna have most in common, however, is the love they got from Estes Park visitors and locals. 

Since news broke, people have flooded social media to mourn and remember the iconic bull.

"He brought us so many exciting days of joy just watching his majesty. It seemed like he would live forever. He will live in our memories and in our photos," group member Debra Sloan commented on one post.  

"I have spent endless hours with this bull over the past couple years. People have traveled from all over the US to see him. I’ve been blessed with multiple solo moments photographing him. He’s known by Kahuna, super bull, Bruno and my personal favorite Big Thirds.. because his big thirds are the biggest! This bull will always have a special place in my heart. RIP big fella!" another group member, Kristy Ann, said. 

"It was surprising to see his carcass, having dropped one antler and the other one still on you could identify that it was him. He survived a serious injury from the rut and made it through the winter. I think all of us that followed him expected to see him in the next rut. He was a magnificent dominant bull. One of the finest specimens in many years, possibly since Samson. He will certainly be missed, I look forward to seeing his offspring in the years to come," Photographer Rick Martinez said. 

Find videos and photos of the famous elk that have been shared across social media below: 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Kristy (@co.mountain.girl)

Read more about elk rut in Colorado here.

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