Living in the Rim Country has many advantages, and for the outdoorsman, it is the chance to see some of Arizona’s wildlife, anywhere at any time.
Just a few weeks ago, neighbor Pam Walden stopped by our yard to take a few pictures of elk eating apples at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Obviously, the Payson area has a very healthy population of neighborhood elk.
Now that the rut or mating season is in full swing, the local bulls are bugling their shrill whistle that may wake you from a sound sleep or be the wildlife alarm clock at first light in the morning.
For many outdoorsmen, it is music to our ears and gets us out the door with an elk call in hand hoping to get a glimpse of a majestic bull elk with a full set of antlers parading in the nearby woods.
The resonance of the bugle will often bring in another bull to challenge for the right of ownership of the cow elk in the area. When this happens, a fight often begins to determine the king of the woods for that day.
The commotion of two bulls fighting is unmistakable as antlers crash against antlers and any brush or trees in the way are often trampled by the two 800-pound animals proving their dominance.
I have actually picked up broken main beams after one of the brawls in the woods. In rare cases the antlers can actually inflict mortal wounds by puncturing a vital area.
As the rut comes to a close, it is common to see a bull elk limping or with wounds to its body which makes him find a secluded spot to rest and heal.
The younger bulls with 4 points and less often watch from a distance and never really step up to the plate to do battle with the big boys. In some cases, they will joust a bit with each other or take out their frustrations by raking a tree or any other object that will take their abuse.
Donna and Brian Goble had the occasion to see this happen in their neighborhood as this young spike bull battled with a chicken coop wire fence. The results were obvious as he wore the spoils of victory on his head and was the talk of the subdivision the last couple of weeks.
Local game and fish officers tranquilized the animal last weekend and removed his antler ornaments.
He quietly walked away waiting for his time next year to be king of the woods.
This weekend take an early morning visit to the woods and listen for the unique bugle of a bull elk and enjoy God’s creation.