Most people think the most hazardous thing that can happen on the golf course is being hit against the head with a stray golf ball. Think again . . . Zak Bornhoft was golfing with three friends when a bull elk charged their golf cart, stabbing him in the stomach.
"The golfing went pretty good throughout the day until we got to the back nine and saw all the elk," Bornhoft told CNN in a phone interview from the hospital. "This bull elk was just eyeing us down," Bornhoft said.
"We were slowly going forward and he started charging at us and he missed. My buddy gassed it to get away and the elk gored me on my right side." He said they tried to steer clear of the animals and keep their distance.
Bornhoft and one of his friends were in a golf cart between the 16th and 17th hole when a bull elk charged at them. "All in all, it was a wild experience," he said. "I would've never thought going to a golf course I'd be jabbed by an elk."
700 pounds of pure muscle
Two days before the incident, Colorado Parks and Wildfire shared on Twitter that a young bull elk was spotted at the golf course "having a hard time getting around" because it had a can on its front left leg.
Officials also shared a video warning why it was important to keep a distance from the animals that on average have "700 pounds of pure muscle." "You don't want this coming at you," the agency said.
The elk's antler traveled all the way through Bornhoft's body, puncturing his kidney. “The doctor told me 3 inches, either way, we wouldn’t be sitting here," Zak’s wife, Megan Bornhoft, told FOX31.
"He said it would have been better to have been stabbed with a knife because of the dirt on the elk antlers." Zak Bornhoft shared the encounter on a Facebook post that has since been made private, saying that he and his friends “definitely were not playing with the elk!” “There was absolutely nothing I could do in my situation," he wrote in a post that was titled “Zak vs The Elk”.
"It’s unbelievable how fast and wide the news travels. So, here’s the real story. The Elk owned the property and he didn’t want us on it. “I didn’t do anything wrong; I didn’t try to play with the Elk, I took pictures from a distance and zoomed in the photos," he wrote.
"The driver of my cart is devastated but there wasn’t really anything he could do. We were just trying to get away”. “We took it slow to get out of the way, however this bull elk was eyeing us down,” Bornhoft wrote, noting the elk surrounded the golfers as they attempted to tee off on the 17th hole.
Bornhoft was taken to a hospital in the area, where he was hospitalized in the intensive care unit but was in stable condition. His wife shared on her own Facebook post that's also been made private that the trauma team "put Zak under last night to flush his wound, they were able to clean up until his back muscle, but could not safely go further."
She later wrote her husband felt better "now that he got some food in his belly," and she was very thankful "this buck struck where it did." "I’m blessed to be sitting next to my husband, even if it’s masked up in an ICU room,” she wrote.
Other witnesses to the Saturday incident said the bull was charging at other golf carts. Wildlife officials said that elk are in mating season this time of the year, which makes bulls aggressive. “Elk love to go onto that golf course for the green grass and there’s a lot of people who love to go and watch them and we’ve got to all kind of find a way to co-exist,” Jason Clay with Colorado Parks and Wildlife told CBS4.
“These are very powerful animals and an incident like this could really end up killing someone”. The elk's antler punctured Bornhoft in the back side of his right hip, going in deep enough to slice his left kidney into two pieces.
He was rushed to a local hospital where he continues to recover. While it isn't unusual this time of year for hundreds of elk to roam around the course, it is the first time in at least 15 years that a golfer has been gored, according to Cyndi Karvaski, a spokeswoman for Denver Parks and Recreation.