Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Report, Some Elk Basics

Sunday AM was a continuation of magnificent weather. Godzilla and a challenger traded bugles in the early dawn, foreshadowing the struggles for dominance yet to come.

Fewer elk in the valley this morning. Perhaps they anticipate Monday and Tuesday's predicted highs in the upper 80's. Should that prediction hold, the elk will be gone from the fields by 8AM.

So where are we at in the 2011 rut? The very beginning. The rut is picking up steam and it will accelerate for at least a couple of weeks before leveling off for another month. Bottom line -- there are at least 6 weeks of top quality viewing ahead, with the prospects for witnessing bull fights in Boxley Valley. After that, there will be very good elk viewing until the end of the year. It is quite a show.

Elk Viewing Fundamentals (or Big Mistakes I See in Boxley Valley)
Last night I saw three major mistakes made by hopeful elk watchers in Boxley Valley:

  • Stopping where they saw elk last year. (I am not kidding.) Elk often move day to day, and year-to-year they often favor different fields. THE fundamental is to survey the entire valley from Ponca to the Upper Wilderness Trailhead before deciding where to stop.
  • Stopping at the elk observation pullout near Lost Valley (and waiting for the elk). The elk observation pullout is just about the worst place in the valley to see elk. I see them there maybe 1% of the time.
  • Stopping at the first elk visitors see before checking the valley. In some cases you might stop, if there is a bull fight going on, or a particularly huge bull was posing for you. Otherwise you should keep moving. The next field may have the elk viewing experience of a lifetime. Trust me on this. 
That's it for today. See the updated herd map below (updated 9/11):

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