Despite cooler weather, elk were leaving the fields this morning at 7:30AM. For the last few days we have had brilliant nights under bright moonlight and sometimes this seems to stimulate a strong nocturnal feeding pattern that can shorten the morning viewing. The advice I have given repeatedly to get to the valley at daybreak for morning viewing could not have been more true today. At least at the south end, those coming even at 7:30AM might think the elk were never there.
The Boxley Beast has returned to the south field. Probably he has been working a few fields from there south with his harem. Earlier in the month he disappeared for a couple of days into the upper wilderness. This absence was much the same pattern.
A second herd behind the Mill Pond has been there for a few days. There are also some satellite bulls just south of this herd that are in the 43/21 field along the cane line. Unless you have a long lens or a spotting scope, these animals are a little far away to enjoy.
Mid-valley a good sized herd was out this morning. I expect this herd to be moving north. This is just a hunch based on the movement of cattle grazing nearby. A pretty good crowd enjoyed these animals this morning.
Be sure to check the entire Boxley Valley when you visit. The north fields closest to Ponca, extending from the Ponca Access to the first field south of the observation pullout are all now vacant. My point is that elk respond to these opportunities, and these fields are now primed for a herd or two. I predict one will pop in anytime. There is room for more.
Looking Ahead to Next Week
Monday night cool weather returns, and with it, prime elk viewing will probably return. From Tuesday through next weekend the highs will be in the 60's. That is prime elk viewing weather, it doesn't get better than that. Look for steamy-breathed bugling, and steadily improving fall color. A great time to be in the Buffalo National River region. Peak fall color is just about here. Be here now.