The Elk in Cataloochee and everywhere else, for that matter, shed their antlers every year and regrow new ones.
During the rut, bull elks will spar with each other for dominance of the females in the herd. They use their antlers as weapons, and attack with various degrees of ferocity.
Typically, when discussing the number of points on the antlers of the elk, one counts the features on either side. Examples are 7×7 or 8×7. This is one of those cases where bigger is better, especially for the photographer!