Saturday, February 16, 2013

Elk Viewing Guidelines & Planning Your Visit

First Lost Valley Wildflower of 2013
Elk viewing has been strong all of February. The cold weather make all day viewing likely most days. These cold winter months offer perhaps the best viewing of the year. Remember the big bull elk are now in all-bull herds.  Great viewing and outstanding photo opportunities. The antler drop is around April 1.

Here are some guidelines for elk viewing:

  • First, be observant.  Yesterday elk were grazing in the woods along the entrance road to the Ponca Access. If you were not paying attention, you would not see them.  Stay alert.
  • Always check the entire valley from Ponca to the Upper Wilderness Trailhead.  Don't stop at the first elk, the best viewing of the day might be just up the road.
  • Getting out at daybreak is your best shot to see the all bull herds. Bull herds seem to retreat to cover by 9 AM or earlier most days.
  • Drive slowly and expect animals to dart out in front of you. 40 mph is pretty safe.
  • If you are driving past elk watchers, assume they are distracted and prone to stepping in front of traffic. If they have kids with them, they will dart in front of you. Avoid tragedy.
  • Respect the residents and private property.  Put yourself in their place.  Most of the viewing areas are private property. Don't block driveways, field access points, etc. Don't be rude. 
Combine your elk viewing visit with a look at the trumpeter swans on the Boxley Mill Pond, and a wildflower walk in Lost Valley.  Wildflower season is just starting and it will be going strong in a couple of weeks, and will continue further on through the spring. 

Don't forget to visit the Ponca Elk Education Center.  It is an award winning facility and a top notch educational opportunity. 

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