Austin Stonnell recorded video of this massive herd of elk about a block from his home in Bozeman, Mont., on March 26.

Stonnell, a Washington native studying chemical engineering at Montana State University, said he has no idea how many elk were in the herd but he estimates it was well over 200.

“It was just a spectacular sight,” Stonnell told me over the phone. “I’ve never seen anything like that but then I’ve only lived in Montana for six months.”

Stonnell said the response he’s gotten from uploading the video has been beyond belief.

“I’m looking at the numbers on YouTube right now,” he said. “I’ve had over 1.3 million views so far and it just ran on the national news with Diane Sawyer a half hour ago. It’s pretty crazy.”

What’s really crazy are some of the comments Stonnell has been receiving.

“I’ve had people call me – I don’t know how they got my number – to complain, ‘Why didn’t you go help that last elk?’ and to ask if I thought the herd leaving was in response to the Yellowstone volcano being ready to blow. It’s just crazy.”

All this attention has been a Godsend in terms of finances though. The money Stonnell’s received from licensing and YouTube views is helping to pay off his schooling.

“Out of state tuition is pretty rough,” he said.