Tuesday, September 1, 2015

2015 Elk Rut is just 3 Weeks Off

First Rutting Bull in 2009 (Twin Forks)
September is the start of the Boxley Valley Elk rut. Last year by the end of the month big bulls had arrived to join the cow herds that arrived earlier in the month.

The horrible heat of August broke late in the month. Morning temps in the 50's and 60's brought the elk back to the valley. If you want to see elk you have to get out of bed. I would get to Boxley Valley at dawn, roughly about 6:30 AM. My last visit to the valley much earlier showed 3 herds, one in the north end close to Ponca, a second in the mid-valley area, and a third, in the deep south end and stragglers were elsewhere. By 7AM the elk were moving back to cover near the river. They really don't like heat or bright light.

It now feels like we are getting into a fall weather pattern. The extended forecast is good for elk viewing with cool nights and daytime highs in the low 80's.  Rain is also forecast for many days. Elk do love the rain, and it often extends viewing.  Thunderstorms are a different matter, elk seek shelter then.  The most reliable time to see elk is in early morning. They do come out in the evenings too, but the times vary depending on weather.   Later in the season, all day viewing is possible as temperatures drop.

Bull Elk are still in Velvet.  Photo 2009
So far this year I have not seen a big bull. Most years there are bulls that start rutting early.  These are not the real big bulls, they are quickly ousted by the biggest bull elk that show up around October 1.   This seems to happen overnight.  This is also the beginning of bull fight season as the big guys vie for control of cow herds. You will be lucky ever to see a real fight. I have seen maybe a dozen fights over many years, and hundreds of visits to Boxley Valley. I can hear the buildup to a bull fight a half mile away. I will be writing on this in this blog over the next couple months. My goal is to cover the rut from the start through the holidays.  It is usually over by the new year.


  1. We are planning another trip to the Buffalo this fall to see the elk in rut, hopefully via a backpacking trip with a stop in Boxley Valley. Thanks for your ongoing info. Always helpful.

    1. Send me an email, and information on your route, I may have a map or two that would be useful. admin@buffaloriverchamber.com


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