Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Wapiti

       Throughout the course of this blog, we have mentioned elk several times. They are our biggest source of wild game during the course of the year. Most of our family have mounts or pictures of elk in their houses (Or mounts AND pictures…because why choose one or the other, when you can decorate with both?).
       They are a special source of family bonding - whether it be on the hunt, over the table as we clean up the meat, or as we eat it (definitely a favorite part). They are amazing creatures that lead amazing lives!
    
     Cervus elaphus, or the elk, has several sub-species. Here in Wyoming, we have the Rocky Mountain Elk. They range in just about every western state, and in Canada from Ontario to its West Coast. They have the biggest antlers of any elk sub-species. Full-grown bulls weigh about 700 pounds and are 5 feet tall at the shoulder. Cows grow to around 500 pounds and are 4-½ ft. from ground to shoulder.
         Calves are born in late May and early June. They start at around 30 pounds, regardless of gender, and have little white spots (They are so cute, the yuppie girls of the world would be on them like duck on a June bug). After around two weeks, the momma cow will take her young back to the herd of calves, cows, and yearling bulls (the older bulls live alone or in small bachelor groups). A bull will reach his prime around eight years old, this when he has the best chance in the Rut.
       We as hunters often talk about the Rut. It is mating season, and it is when the elk are the most excited. Bulls try attracting females by showing their bodies, antlers and emitting a very strong and musky smell (a welcome smell when we hunters catch a whiff after hiking 12 miles in a day). Sometimes (but very rarely), bulls will fight and lock horns over a cow. They do this so rarely because it costs enormous amounts of energy (you try pushing back a 700 pound animal made of pure muscle with your head), and often injures the contestants. But if the bull tries and perseveres, they get a bunch of lovely girlfriends.
       Elk are pretty darn cool! They live in some the harshest terrain in the world. They are magnificent animals. They are special to my family and many others. In short, they are awesome!!!

-The Apprentice

Sources
“Elk” National Park Service
“Elk Facts” Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
 Me


3 comments:

  1. I just looked up baby elk images... you're right Ranger! girls would, ahem, be on them like a duck on a june bug!

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  2. After seeing an Elk... Nothing else will satisfy!!

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  3. Great sources and article!

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