To see all my "Elk Blogs" click on the "elk" hotlink in the "Labels" area at the footer of this blog entry or on the Label section on the right sidebar.It is December in Montana. Deer and elk hunting season is closed except for a few districts that have been extended, the closest for us being south near Dillon, MT. Click here for a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks link.
The strange thing is how warm it has been. We have had moisture, but in the form of rain except for some snow at high elevations.
Instead of cross country skiing, Jack and I are still hiking for fitness and recreation. I am uploading a few photos/slideshows of game we are seeing on our hikes.
We see elk mostly on the way to our hike. They have lost security in the mountains (new roads, new construction, much hunting pressure) and oddly seek security in the open, private pastures and ranches. Good for viewing, not so good for hunting. I imagine they eat a lot of grass and hay the ranchers probably need... There are about 9 spike bulls in this group. This means they have no brow tines and are young, not mature bulls.
Mature bulls stay away from cows and calves most of the year. During calving season, the cows are scattered widely in small groups. I see them on my hikes in the mountain drainages above these ranches. That is when thermal cover and security from the forest (not the open fields) is important to these elk. Once the spotted calves are able to walk, the females will then assemble into larger groups. It is common to see 30, even close to 100 elk in herds near here from July until calving season. Elk are shy and very suspicious of human beings unless accustomed to them since birth as in the case of this herd. They are still suspicous and wiley, but know they are relatively safe near ranches.
Click here for a great Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation article.
For larger views, click on "View Album."
Click here for information about Downey Woodpeckers.