Have you noticed that the daylight hours are significantly getting shorter? Our shorter days mean that fall is right around the corner. The early morning hours now have the familiar sound of the bugle of the bull elk in the Rim Country.
The rut or mating season has just begun for the American wapiti, which frequent the forests in and around Payson and the surrounding areas. It is common for residents who happen to live on the edge of town to hear a bull elk’s shrill call.
The Rim Country elk herd is a real success story, which was made possible by the combined efforts of numerous hunting groups and the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the local Mogollon Sporting Association have raised thousands of dollars and donated hundreds of man-hours in making the elk habitat in the Tonto National Forest among of the best in the West.
A key factor is the wildlife guzzlers, which provide water in areas that may not have that precious resource. This is an ongoing improvement process, in which the Mogollon Sporting Association has been instrumental in assisting the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Water coupled with good habitat means healthier elk herd numbers for Arizona.
In the 1970s, it was a rare sighting when an elk was seen in the local Payson area. I distinctly remember a fall morning when a herd of a dozen animals were seen on the Houston Mesa, which created a special photo opportunity. Now, it is common in the early morning or late afternoon to drive the surrounding roads and see elk moving to the feeding areas.
The growth of the elk herds in Arizona is a true success story. The efforts of hunter advocacy groups working with the Arizona Game and Fish Department has made the Rim Country some of the best elk habitat in the western United States.
If you are sitting on your deck some early fall morning and hear the distant bugle of a bull elk, you know that you are in the heartland of the West. When your friends visit from other states, take them for a scenic drive on one of the local roads and chances are very good that they will see the “King of the Woods”— an Arizona bull elk.
If you enjoy viewing the local elk herds, make a point to thank a hunter. This is another occasion where hunter advocacy groups made a difference and everyone benefits.
This weekend, take an early morning walk; chances are good you will hear the shrill whistle of a bull elk in God’s creation.