Thursday, September 16, 2021

The elk are returning

Last winter, we were thrilled to see elk hanging around our little valley.

But then ... they disappeared. We haven't seen them since spring. Neighbors said the herd typically moves higher into the mountains during the summer months.

Now they're slowly trickling back.

The first one I saw was on August 23, when this handsome young lad moseyed up our driveway.

He spent several minutes hanging around near the barn, trying to reach apples over the fence.

Eventually he just hopped the fence so he could glean the fruit that had fallen on the ground.

Then, on September 2, Don and I took Mr. Darcy for his evening walk and saw these two boys in a neighbor's pasture.

We paused in our walk to watch them.

They mostly got along, but there were a few minor skirmishes (mostly pushing and nipping). Breeding season is coming, after all.

Eventually they hopped the fence onto the road where were were walking.

Next thing we knew, they were heading in our directions. Mr. Darcy, to his credit, sat quietly as they approached.

We weren't alarmed, because it was clear these boys were simply looking for the easiest spot to jump the fence into the higher pasture.

One of them found the right spot, and leaped over.

The other seemed less sure where to go; but eventually he, too, found his way over the fence.

We continued our walk, and noticed the large hoofprints of these impressive beasts.

Here's Don's foot, for purposes of comparison.

Mr. Darcy, meanwhile, was very interested in the scents left behind.

We looked up and realized we were being watched.

Our next encounter occurred a week later. I hooked Mr. Darcy onto his leash as we prepared to take him for his evening walk. Next thing I knew, he leaped to the edge of our raised porch to snarl at an elk cow right below. She dashed away. Brave dog, right?

There were actually two ladies in our pasture.

They were part of a herd that moved lower down the valley for the night.

Then early this morning I noticed a small herd on a very distant hillside.

Yes, the elk are on the move. Winter is coming.


  1. That would be very cool. Only mule deer here, which are certainly engaging, but not nearly so cool.

  2. I would love to see wild life around here.

  3. Looks like a horse shoe print to me, you can see the hole in the dirt for the grips at the back of the shoe for grip, and along the center, you can see where the horse shoe nails go. Elk are like deer tracks, only a lot larger. Really enjoy you page.

    1. No; trust me, those were elk prints. We were right there watching, the prints were all over the road right where they were trotting, and no one's been riding horses out here recently.

      - Patrice

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