Drowsy Elk with an Itch

We were driving through a residential area in the mountain town of Estes Park, Colorado.  We came upon a bull elk who had decided to take his afternoon rest in a patch of sunlight right beside the road.  Not wanting to startle the drowsy animal, we eased off to the side of the road and stopped.  As quietly as possible, I stepped outside the car to take a few photos.

Elk resting by the roadside in Estes Park, Colorado
The elk stirred a bit, but did not get up.  As he turned his head toward me I was able to get a shot of his huge antlers.

Male Elk with beautiful antlers
Then he did something surprising.  He leaned his head back and began to scratch his back with his antlers.

Elk scratching his back with his antlers
He moved his head back and forth, rubbing his antlers across his back for about a half minute.

Elk scratching his back with his antlers
Judging from the expression of pure bliss on his face, he must have found just the right spot.  If he could have spoken, I think he would have said, "Ahhhh."

Elk says, "Ahhh - that's the spot!"
Itchy spot relieved, he resumed his nap.  We watched the big elk for a few more minutes, then slowly drove past him and went on our way.  He never stirred.

Male Elk at rest - Estes Park, Colorado

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