Another photograph from Idaho by reader Stephen Barnard. Nothing is going to keep this dude from the rest of the females. (Click to enlarge.)
Doesn’t look like much of a bull elk exclusion fence to me.
The fence is meant to keep out what we call “slow elk” (cows).
Stephen, if this post is still on your grid, would you please elaborate some more on what’s going on here, in the photo? The fencing, elk behaviour in that environment, etc.?
Sure, I’ll try.
This is the breeding season for elk. The bulls gather large harems and vigorously defend them against challengers. I frequently hear them bugling — in fact, they’re bugling right now. Sometimes I see bulls challenging each other, but I haven’t managed to get a photo. Last year I saw five bulls together in one of my fields. The one in the photo is a huge bad boy with a 6×7 rack. I sent Jerry what I think is a pretty good photo of him in profile, but he didn’t see fit to post it. In this photo I’ve spooked them and the bull is following the cows across a barbed wire fence, which they usually have no trouble jumping. (I was shooting at 400mm and the photo is heavily cropped.)
I think one reason the elk like this valley is to avoid wolves that are common in the surrounding mountains (the sheep ranchers have a lot of trouble with them), but that avoid more settled areas. Elk like my ranch because right in the middle is a 20 acre stand of mature aspens with two ponds that provides them with good cover and water. Also, I don’t allow hunting, though I get a lot of requests.
Next year I’m switching from barley to alfalfa. Elk can be very destructive to alfalfa, so I may have to reluctantly use depredation permits to take some cows.
Great capture! Amazing how agile these huge cervids can be.
My garden is plagued with deer. Those suckers are big when they’re mature, I’d say over 500 lbs. But they can leap over a six foot fence almost effortless, from a standing position.
Elk are much bigger, but obviously equally athletic.
Incidentally, if anyone is traveling up US 101 in Oregon, a mile or three up the Umpqua River from Reedsport there are extensive water meadows along the river. Big elk there, maybe Roosevelt elk. Worth stopping and watching. Huge, magnificent animals.
Eager el… beaver syndrome.
Reblogged this on Mark Solock Blog.
At least it was a fence, and not a shark….
The landing is an important missing part of this story.
I once found a cow elk, dead, trapped in her hindquarters trying to jump a barbed wire fence. She was still warm. It was a sad sight.
I once saw a moose in one of my horse pastures that had to have jumped a 5 1/2 foot high fence.
Let’s hope he keeps his old fella in check until after he clears the fence
These days elk are usually found in the mountains, but in the past they were plains animals. Lewis and Clark found plentiful elk in the plains, but when they crossed the Rockies they found very little game and were forced to eat their horses. Elk have been driven into the mountains by human settlement.
“Nothing is going to keep this dude from the rest of the females.”
Which guy? Stephen or the elk?
Great question David Duncan.
I’m not into miscegination. Anyway, that bad boy would kick my ass.
Did he stick the landing?
It sure doesn’t look like he was going to clear the fence since he has legs on either side of the top wire.
Just wondering. If he is still there, trapped in barbed wire, maybe you can compete for the cows after all.
He stuck it with room to spare. I have the photos to show it. If the cows and yearlings can jump that fence (as they did), believe me, a powerful bull can do it.
I try to keep my fences wildlife friendly — high enough to keep stock out (or in), and low enough for elk, deer, and moose to jump.
It occurred to me that you might have been referring to my comment about finding a cow elk dead, trapped in barbed wire. That wasn’t on my property. It was up Democrat Gulch west of Hailey, Idaho, on public land. She should have cleared it. The rest of the herd did. Her genes won’t be passed along.
Your two comments cleared those issues up. Thanks for replying, Stephen. 🐶
I’m sure he would. I wasn’t suggesting you we’re into miscegination, it was just a lame joke.
I want to show that bull in his full profiled glory. Let’s see if this works.
At 6:15PM this evening there were four moose in my yard, in a bunch: the cow and her two nearly grown calves that have been hanging around all year, and a bull who was rubbing his antlers on my trees. The bull is clearly in rut, and the cow seems receptive. The calves were standing to the side and making pathetic mewling noises, not at all happy with the situation. I didn’t dare get close to get a good photo. They weren’t even afraid of Deets, my Border Collie, who was freaking out.
I’ve never seen anything like this. Moose porn. I feel dirty.
When I first saw the pic I thought it was an elk farming operation, but the comments suggest we’re talking wild elk here. Is there any elk farming in Idaho? (I know of some in N Dakota.)
There is some elk farming in Idaho, but I’m not very familiar with it. In 2006 a whole lot of domesticated elk escaped (more than 100) up by Yellowstone Park. It had people very worried because they can spread diseases. I understand that some elk farms offer “hunting,” which I strongly disapprove of, as I do all canned hunting.
My hunter friends tell me that elk is the best game meat. I’ve eaten it and agree that it’s very good.
I’ve been told that elk can transmit the equivalent of mad cow disease to humans, and an acquaintance who would know no longer eats elk meat at BBQs in the US.
Just curious if we could get permission to post your photo on the Facebook page for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Thanks,
No problem. I think I already did, and I’ve already gotten 17 likes, but I don’t see it there.
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