Elk are the second largest deer on the continent. They are also the noisiest of the deer species. Newborns bleat and squeal, females bark, grunt and squeal and males bellow or roar. Bugling is the name for the loud call males make in the fall to establish territory and attract mates.

Elk are also called wapiti, from the Shawnee language meaning "light colored deer." An adult male is a bull, an adult female is a cow, a baby is a calf and a year old male is known as a spike. A group of elk are called a gang.