Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fall elk

A beautiful bull elk a few miles from Clam Lake Wisconsin.

This small bull elk is checking behind it as another bull bugles in the distance.

I located this elk calf and cow wearing a radio collar near the edge of a logging clear cut.  I found them here twice over the course of three days.

This bull elk was staying near the cow and calf.

This is another photo of the best bull I was able to photograph this fall. The bull came out near the road to gather one of the cows from his harem. The cow had walked across the highway to the other side. The bull came up to the edge of the road and waited until the cow came back to his side and rejoined four other cows in his harem.

Here's a glimpse of a little fall color seen from one of the forest roads near Clam Lake.  I made several trips to the area to see, hear, and photograph elk during the rut with some success. 

I learned that Wisconsin elk have very different habits than the elk in Wyoming and Alberta.  Out west the elk seem to gravitate towards open meadows during the fall rut.  The Wisconsin elk seem quite content to stay in the woods and it wasn't easy to find them out in the open during daylight hours.  

It may be that there are so few elk in the area (only 140 or so) that the entire rut dynamic is differerent.  The bull I found with the collared cow and calf seemed quite content to quietly wait nearby for the cow to come into estrus.  He never bugled and didn't seem to want to draw any attention to himself.  I'm not sure if that is normal operating procedure for these Wisconsin bulls or if this bull was mute due to his relatively small size.  Either way, it was lots of fun spending time with wild elk in Wisconsin during the rut.

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