Elk Habitat, Summer Months:
Elk Habitat, Summer Months:Elk habitat can vary within this range between summer and winter months. During the summer months, elk spend most of their time in high altitude mountainous areas to include mountain meadows in the alpine or sub-alpine zones or stream bottoms (
During the summer months, elk densities will occur where there is an abundant supply of forage. This habitat will include areas with succulent forage to include open grassy meadows and riparian areas. It is also important that elk have dense habitat for shade and bedding sites. During these hot months, elk can be found on north facing slopes in areas with dense shade, water and good food supplies. During this timeframe, in preparation for the winter, elk will continue to feed in order to build fat for needed energy to sustain the cold winter months. Nutrition is key during this time frame due to new-born calves, antler growth in bulls, and for lactating cows. Elk will continue to inhabit these regions until forced to relocate due to winter or severe weather.
Elk Habitat, Winter Months:
Elk Habitat, Winter Months:During the fall and winter months, with the onset of cold temperatures, deep snow and limited food supplies, elk will migrate to more suitable habitats for food and water. This is especially important for elk hunters to understand. If you’ve started your scouting and have located elk in the hot summer months, by the time your hunt starts, the elk may have started their relocation / migration to lower elevations. If the elk have migrated to winter grounds, prime elk habitat includes areas on south-facing slopes with dense cover nearby. Also, elk will seek areas in which fresh logging has been taking place. This provides new forage and sprouts which elk feed on. This also includes areas of recent forest fires. It is important to remember that elk range in areas of good water sources. This is especially true during the dry summer months. Scouting watering holes for fresh sign will let you know if elk are ranging in the area. Additionally, studies of elk slope preferences indicate that elk use a variety of slope percents, although they choose slopes in the 15 to 30 percent class most frequently (Skovlin 1982).
of the elk :
Behavioral Characteristics of the elk
Daily Movement Patterns:
Daily Movement Patterns:Elks daily movement patterns start from their bedding grounds in late afternoon, (see picture of a bedding site) and may travel over 2 miles to their feeding areas. This distance is dependent on the availability and suitability of their bedding cover. If humans don’t disturb the elk's movement pattern, they will typically travel through their travel corridors, and move into the meadows when the sun it up, but normally wait until almost dark to enter openings. They will continue to feed on and off throughout the evening hours to just prior to sunrise. As sunrise occurs, elk will start heading for their bedding grounds. Elk normally begin walking to their bedding areas at first light, lingering somewhat if humans or predators don’t pressure them. It may take 1 to 2 hours for elk to ultimately reach their bedding areas. It is important to note that elk seldom bed in the same places day after day, but normally remain in the same general area.
Rutting Characteristics :
Around Late August to early September, bulls will start to gather cows for breeding rights. Bulls will stay with their harem trying to gather additional cows during the prime-rut. Throughout this time frame the herd bull will breed the cows as they come into estrus. As the rut starts to slow, as determined by the cows already being bred, the herd bull may start to wander looking for other cow elk.
Elk Rubs:As part of the breeding season, Bull elk exhibit different behavioral characteristics that we will use to help us locate elk and help us pattern their movement. For example, around mid-August in preparation for the breading season, bull elk will commonly thrash saplings and brush trees with their antlers (Elk Rubs, see images to the right). This behavior is believed that the elk are depositing scent from the pre-orbital gland located near the front of the eye to either mark territory or express dominance. Often times you can judge the size of the bulls antlers by the height of the elk rub. In the image below, notice the overall height of the rub, This rub exceeds 9 feet in total height.
Elk Wallows: Another behavioral characteristic to express dominance is when a bull elk wallows in a mud hole. Wallowing is a process in which a bull elk will roll in a shallow depression filled with water or mud and cake itself with mud. The bull will usually urinate in and around the wallow before and during its frolicking. To identify these "elk wallows", look for depressions in the mud in the outermost perimeters of the waterhole or spring. After times you can see the hair and antler imprints in the mud.
Bull Elk Bugling: Bugling is yet another behavioral characteristic to express dominance. During the rut, bull elk bugle primarily during early morning hours and prior to sunset, and continue to bugle throughout the evening hours.