We are now just two weeks into the 2011 Arkansas elk rut. Currently in Boxley Valley there are 4 herd bulls driving the action.
In the south end of the valley in the field roughly between Smith Mountain Road and Smith Creek we have two big bulls with herds. The premier bull is the Boxley Beast, last year's dominant bull, or at least the largest bull. He arrived just a week ago and took over a large herd from Maverick, a nice herd bull but not one of the huge bulls. Currently Maverick has claimed a part of his original herd and is at the opposite end of the field shared with the Beast. There are many satellite bulls around these two herds. I believe these two bulls will fight for control to make one herd out of two. My money is on the Beast.
Godzilla is on a back field somewhere. Haven't seen him for over a week. He is a player, but he has moved his herd to a back field.
In the mid valley area Hacksaw is moving his herd slowly north. Now that the fields near Ponca no longer have cattle in them, I expect him to move there. This is just an educated guess based on watching movements for years. I call the fields north of the entrance to Lost Valley the "Ponca Fields" because elk herds will move between them as though they are one. All of this hinges on the presence of cattle. If cattle, no elk. It is just about that simple. They don't mix.
The fourth bull in the Ponca Fields is an irregular 7x5 I call Tiny Fork. At the end of his right antler is a fork that is nearly grown together. He is a nice sized bull, but I think he is a year or two away from herd bull status.
So this year's lineup of bulls so far is the Boxley Beast, Godzilla, Maverick, Hacksaw, and Tiny Fork. Based on past experience, I expect to see more big bulls arrive soon. We are missing some of last year's cast, notably the Boxley Stud and Bubba Stud. Both have drop tines, but Bubba Stud is collared. It will be interesting to see if they show up for the big dance. So far as I know, neither was taken in the elk hunt last year.
I will post an album of the 2011 bulls soon.
For now, if you want to see rutting bulls and hear bugling, head to the south end of Boxley Valley between Smith Creek and Smith Mountain Road. I still consider this area ripe for a bull fight. I believe the majority of cow elk are not estrous at this time. Give it another week.