Colorado is home to the biggest herd of Rocky Mountain Elk Cervus elaphus in North America, numbering more than 280,000. These majestic creatures graze lands from high mountain tundra, meadows, and forests in the summer to low lying valleys and prairies in the winter. Elk, or as native americans refer to them: wapiti, are one of the largest and most vocal members of the deer family.
Most of the year elk hang out in single sex groups.
Every year male elk (bulls) grow a new set of antlers. Typically, males drop their antlers in late winter while new antler growth occurs throughout the summer. Their antlers grow a furry like substance called velvet Velvet is a sensitive skin filled with blood vessels that provide antlers with vitamins and minerals essential to their growth.
Come fall bull’s antlers reach full size. Bulls scrape or rub off their velvet by violently rubbing their antlers on trees. As fall moves forward bigger older bulls herd up their harem or group of female elk (cows) to prepare for breeding. This period is referred to as the rut.
A bull elk starts to gather his harem in early fall
Throughout late September and October bulls challenge each other to establish dominance. Older more powerful bulls typically end up with harems of 20 or more cows while the younger bulls still hanging around the herd are called satellite bulls. The rut lasts for about a month, during this time the bulls are the most vocal, bugling to establish dominance and attract cows.
Recently we were fortunate enough to find a large elk herd with a monster 7X7 herd bull. This thing was HUGE! It was obvious this large herd of 70 plus elk was in the height of the rut. The herd bull was bugling loud and working hard at herding up his harem. It was quite the site watching nature’s beauty at its best…. best of all… we are bringing it to you in high definition.
So turn the lights off, grab some popcorn, and check out our latest a.m. Colorado episode:
(for full screen click on the icon with 4 arrows at bottom right hand corner of the frame)
For those of you who hunt elk I took the liberty of creating an MP3 audio file from this video. Feel free to listen to it here (click the play button): or better yet, DOWNLOAD THE ELK HERD MP3 FILE HERE throw it on your iPod and use it to practice your bugling and cow calling. There’s nothing better than calling in a big bull elk, but at the same time there’s nothing worse than sending one off to the races with a poor call… its never to early to start practicing
If you’ve never been lucky enough to hunt elk in Colorado but want to… Here is some information to get you started:
first of all you’ll need your Hunter’s Education Card
second, you’ll need to decide on a method of take: archery, muzzleloader (black powder), or rifle
third, you’ll need to decide on a time and place… this is where it becomes tricky… especially if you’re from out of state… but don’t worry. There are many resources out there to help you decide. The first and foremost is the latest Colorado Big Game brochure This brochure is your “go to” for all regulations regarding big game. It lists all big game species, seasons, and GMU’s (game management units). Colorado is separated into GMU’s so before you apply for a license you must decide which GMU you want to hunt first.
Colorado is the only state in the nation where unlimited “over the counter” (OTC) elk licenses are available. This means, anyone (except convicted felons) can walk up to any license agent and purchase an elk license that is good for unlimited GMU’s all over the state with out having to go through a draw. OTC licenses are available for archery season and 2nd and 3rd rifle season.
If you want to hunt in Colorado this should get you started… CDOW’s PlAN YOUR HUNT PAGE is a good resource as well. for more information visit the CDOW website or call the CDOW call center at (303)297-1192 (M-F 8am-5pm MST) GOOD LUCK!