For the first few weeks in the life of an Elk, the calf’s instinct is to lay as flat as possible on the ground and hold completely still.
The mother will get her calf to do this instinct and then she will walk away to feed, drink and sleep. If this sounds “un motherly” it is not. She instinctively knows her calf can not outrun a predator like a coyote, wolf or bear. She also knows that she may not be able to defend her calf from attack.
By leaving the calf hidden, it has a better chance of not being seen or found. The calf has minimal scent and is hard to find in the brush, flowers, deadfall, and grass of it’s birth.