Colorado Elk

The photo above of a Colorado elk cow and calf was taken when we first moved to the state a long time ago.

We had rented a house in the foothills outside of Denver and every day a herd of about 30 cows and calves would roam the property.

During mating season in the fall, we would hear the strange sound of the males, called bulls, bugling or singing to attract the females.

The male and female coat is light-colored with darker browns or black on the head and shoulders.

Large in comparison to the mule deer, elk stand from 4-5 feet tall at the shoulder and weigh in from 500-1,000 pounds.

They feed from dusk to early morning, just like deer and eat grass, shrubs and tree bark and leaves.

During mating season, the bulls round up the females and keep them in their herd.

They protect the girls and when another bull comes around, fights have been known to occur between the males.

Bulls will wear themselves out during this time, keeping the females within the herd, protecting them from predators and discouraging other males from invading their territory.

Like the deer, cows give birth during the late spring or early summer.

Calves learn quickly to forage for themselves and play with the other young ones in the herd.  Running, jumping and mock fighting are the activities the calves engage in.

This play time gets them ready to become adults and develop the ability to quickly run away from danger or protect themselves as necessary.

These animals are not very tolerant of humans.  They tend to avoid any kind of contact with us.

You will see them in pastures and crossing back roads and highway here in Colorado, but you rarely see them congregate like deer.

Because of the fact that we never bothered the herd at our first residence, they would return day after day.

Where we live now, the elk are quite invisible.  Occasionally, we will see a few in the national forest.

Other times, when driving back roads, there will be a small herd moving through the trees.

These animals know when humans are around.  Hunting season here begins in September and ends in November.

It is by permit only, consists of bow or gun, depending on the month.

Hunters have told me that they can’t understand why, right before the season starts, they see hundreds of them in a certain area where hunting is allowed.

Then at the stroke of midnight when hunting season begins, they suddenly disappear and can’t be seen until the season is over.

Our wildlife are pretty smart.  They know what’s going on.  They head to private property and stay there until they sense it is safe to return to their regular routine.

Hunting is not allowed on private property.

When you visit Colorado, early fall is a great time to hear the song of the bugling bulls.

It is a sound that is haunting and certainly gives you the feeling you are traveling through the old west, just like the early settlers did hundreds of years ago.