Friday, June 22, 2012

6/22/12 Elk Viewing Very Good, Dry Weather

Prince in Morning Fog near 43/21
Intersection in Boxley Valley
Elk viewing remains very good, but you definitely need to get up. The shift is from daybreak until about 7AM or so, sometimes later. See map below for new position dates, both for June 15 and June 22nd.

A couple of nice bulls in velvet continue to feed on the roadside in the early morning. Be very careful both viewing them and driving in the valley. These are huge animals and could bolt in front of you. Prince the wonder bull has been around lately. Look for his 8x8 rack in velvet. He has a malformed eye guard this year so he will not be quite so "regular" this season.

The very dry spell has the buffalo river pooled up in the upper third at least. This is terrible for floating, but terrific for photography and nature walking. Post yourself by any of the many river pools off the beaten path and you will see many animals. There are does with fawns, and cow elk with calves now. If you are lucky you might get a reflection shot. Some mighty nice river landscapes too. I like low water conditions with scalloped shores and reflecting pools.

Butterflies are plentiful now too along the roadsides and the river. Check out the flower garden at the Ponca Elk Education Center for easy access to wildflowers and butterflies. The creek behind the center is almost dry and also a good place to get butterfly pictures.

Elk herd positions updated for the last two weeks are below. There are stragglers elsewhere, but the big pattern remains the south Boxley Valley area. This has been very stable now for about a month.  Cows with calves are starting to show up now as the calves mature.

June 22, 2012 Boxley Valley Elk Viewing Map 

Friday, June 8, 2012

June 8, 2012 Elk Report, Whitetail Fawn Alert

Get Out Early to See
Big Elk in June Velvet
Elk viewing continues to be very good, but you have to get up to see the best show. This morning at daybreak there were big bulls along the road in velvet and a couple of cow herds. Straggler cows were in the south valley area as elk calving is underway. There are reports of calves now, but it is still a little early for the cow elk to trot out their newborns for viewing. That is a couple of weeks off.

Be sure to drive slowly if you arrive at Boxley Valley at daybreak. Many elk will be outside the fences and grazing along the road. The could bolt in front of you if you don't reduce your speed.

Newborn Twin Fawns
We are also now at peak whitetail fawn season. Expect to see fawns everywhere in the Buffalo National River region. Fawns often follow does in road crossings and they can be slow and clumsy. If you see a doe crossing a country road, assume a fawn is trailing her, it is very common. If you don't slow down when you see the doe, you could kill the fawn. This is a common mistake, one you will not forget if you make it.

Conditions were ideal this year for fawn births because haying happened early before they were born.

The map of herd positions is below. Remember to give cow elk with calves room. Cow elk with calves are dangerous if they feel threatened.

June 8, 2012 Elk Locations near Ponca, AR

Friday, June 1, 2012

6/1/12 Elk Calving Month Has Arrived

4 Day Old Calf in Rare Roadside Picture
June is the peak month for elk calving. Calving will continue for at least two months, and there will be calves born quite late, but June is considered the peak.

This morning the elk pattern was clearly from the mid-valley and points south, but there were stragglers elsewhere. As I mentioned in my previous post, the seasonal cow herds are now broken into smaller groups for the most part, and there are many cow elk that are isolating themselves in preparation to give birth. Typically they will rejoin the herds a few weeks after calving when their newborns are mobile.

Should you run into a cow elk with a newborn calf, give her a lot of room. She can and will stomp you if she thinks you are a threat to her baby. This happens every so often as tourists don't heed threatening gestures that are clear to experienced wildlife watchers. Remember these are wild animals, and never so wild as when they are protecting their young.

The bull elk are in velvet and this morning were right along Highway 43. These were the big guys. As is true this time of year, you have to get out early to be assured of seeing them. The bull elk were gone today by 7AM.

If you get to the valley at sunrise, watch for elk along the roadsides. Many fields have been hayed and the roadsides offer the best forage.

New month, new map. See the locations of elk below on June 1, 2012:

6/1/2012 Elk Herd Locations -- Stragglers Elsewhere