LINVILLE, N.C. (WGHP) — A mainstay and symbol of the beauty of North Carolina’s Grandfather Mountain, has found a new home.

Doc the Elk, named after the famous guitarist Doc Watson, will be moving to the farm of NASCAR racer Ryan Neman.

Doc the Elk (Courtesy of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation)

Newman is an active conservationist. He once helped construct a Humane Society shelter in Catawba County.

Grandfather Mountain had been looking to find Doc a new home for the last year after Doc had become unsuitable for his habitat. 

“When we chose to renovate that habitat and bring in elk, we felt like the habitat could support three adult elk. However, when we got them here, we realized the toll that these heavier animals have on their environment, with their larger hooves and different feeding behaviors. During the rut season, we also started having dominance issues between the three elk, with Doc being the most dominant of the three. We felt like it was a good move to try to find another home for him.” said Jesse Pope, President & Executive Director of Grandfather Mountain.

And that is where Newman comes in.

“While we were in the process of working with the state of North Carolina to identify a new home for Doc, we were very particular about the people we would work with. We were very fortunate to partner with Ryan Newman, who has a wonderful facility and a passion for wildlife and conservation. After many discussions with Ryan, we both agreed that selling Doc to him was the right move for all involved,” Pope said

The 18-time NASCAR Cup Series-winner picked Doc up in early April.

“It’s a good opportunity for all. The important thing is that we all get the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, and that’s what’s so cool about Grandfather Mountain. It’s a beautiful place and allows people to see something they wouldn’t see, especially on this side of the Mississippi,” said Newman.

Despite the necessity of the move, it did not make saying goodbye to Doc any easier.

“The process of moving Doc went smooth, and we very much appreciate Ryan for giving Doc an amazing home. He is at a great place, but we do miss him,” said Christie Tipton, Animal Habitats Curator with the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.

Since the move, Newman has been providing park staff with regular updates on Doc and how he is enjoying his new home.

To learn more about the elk at Grandfather Mountain, and to support the animal habitats by symbolically adopting Merle and Watson, visit

The nonprofit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, visit