It was the time of the pre-rut in the elk range; the bulls had shed the velvet from their antlers, were beginning to bugle to challenge other nearby bulls –who answered the challenge with bugles of their own, they were sparring although not seriously fighting, and showing some interest in gathering a band of cows.
And so, it was time to journey to the elk range on a beautiful morning – to hear the haunting sound of the bugling bulls, to see some interesting country and do some photography.
Parking the car, I headed off to some of the spots where, in the past, I’ve had some wonderful encounters with elk. Unfortunately, after covering about two and a half miles all there was to be seen of elk were some rather old tracks, one recent set of elk tracks and numerous tracks of the horses and riders that now seem to frequent that area.
I did encounter some of the last of this year’s blooming wildflowers –
Elsewhere there were several cows, a calf and a 6x6 bull feeding.
Mid-day was spent traveling through other areas of the elk range for future exploration in locations less frequented by the hordes of tourists who travel to Winslow Hill in the fall.
As the sun sank in the west back to Winslow Hill I went. There a 7x7 bull was busily bugling in an exchange with another bull that was out of sight –
Those of us photographing the bull were eagerly anticipating seeing an encounter between the two bugling bulls, but a wagon full of elk watchers appeared and came between the bull we were watching and the unseen bull.
With that the bull turned around and vanished over the hill –
The sun was setting and it was time to head for home –
The elk range always beckons, but next time it will be some of the more remote regions.