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Rocky Mountain Elk

Cervus elaphus nelsoni

Elk had been exterminated from the Wichita Mountains by 1875. Since their reintroduction, the herd has thrived—today numbering approximately 800 animals.

Each year in September, the rut—or reproduction period— begins, lasting 4-6 weeks. Bulls compete for groups of cows (harems) to breed with, and the sound of their bugling (call) can be heard throughout the range. Calves are born in June, and the herds will split into smaller groups to graze throughout the summer.

Elk were gone for 80 years from the Wichitas. After their reintroduction, the herd has thrived until today it numbers approximately 800 animals. Each year in September the rut begins. Bulls compete for harems, or groups of cows, with which to breed, and the eerie sound of bugling can be heard throughout the range. The rut will last 4-6 weeks, during which the bulls get little rest or food.

With the approach of warm weather, the bulls shed their antlers. Elk are prized animals to hunters, both for the quantity of meat they provide, and for their large antlers and their canine teeth. These teeth, also known as "whistlers," are considered magic by the Indians and are the only legal true North American ivory.

Elk are grazers and are quite visible in the open grasslands, particularly early in the morning or just before dark.

Learn More:
     History of the Elk Herd
     Elk Management
     Refuge Hunt Program

Facts About Rocky Mountain Elk


Average Lifespan 
15 years

Bulls = 700 lbs, 5'0" tall
Cows = 500 lbs, 4'6" tall

Mating Season

September - October
8 1/2 month gestation

Last Updated: Dec 12, 2016
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