Elk vs. Reindeer: Why Rudolph Is Different from Elk

If you aren’t super familiar with different types of ungulates – hooved animals, that is – you might not be able to tell the difference between reindeer and elk. They are both roughly the same size as far as height is concerned, and from a distance, you might not see a big difference in their antlers. But the truth is that there are quite a few differences between the two, and if you look hard enough, you will be able to clearly identify one versus the other. With Christmas on the horizon, let’s take a look at what makes an elk different from Santa’s sleigh animals.

Geography and Coloration

Reindeer originated in the arctic and subarctic regions, while elk have mainly been found in North America and eastern parts of Asia. Elk are typically much heavier than reindeer, and they have a reddish hue and a large rump compared to reindeer, which are usually browner in color and have a slimmer look.

Lifespan and Lifestyle

Reindeer live for about 15 years on average, while elk only live for between eight to 12 years, notes Wildlife Extra. While only male elks have antlers, both sexes of reindeer can have them. In fact, this makes reindeer unique, notes Discover Wildlife.


Reindeer are also known for eating small mammals and even some bird eggs at times in addition to reindeer moss and leaves from trees. On the other hand, elk are herbivores and prefer to graze on grass, bark and other plants.

You might not necessarily see all of these differences when you are looking at reindeer and elk, but they are there and affect the way that they behave in the wild.

Give the Gift of an Elk Hunt

Tioga Boar Hunting does not stock reindeer on our ranch, but we do have plenty of elk available for those who want to sign up for one of our fully guided elk hunts. These hunts usually last for one or two days and your price includes the hunt using a weapon of your choice, with lodging and meal options available as well. We can even process all of the meat from the elk that you catch into steaks, chops and more for just 75 cents per pound. We will make sure you walk away with an experience that you will never forget – plus enough great elk meat to last you through the winter. Call us at 570-835-5341 today to schedule a hunt.