Elk Hunting Tips – Know Elk Biology

Elk Hunting Tips – Know Elk Biology

As an informed elk hunter, both for archery elk hunting and rifle elk hunting, I want to know as much about the animal as possible.   Knowing the animal, the elk biology and elk habits, you have a slightly better chance at coming home with meat.

So, over the next few weeks I’ll be posting information about elk biology and elk habitat.

The first post today: Information about Bull Elk

Winter Adaptation:

Bulls expend a great amount of energy during the rut. It is not uncommon for a bull to loose 100-150 pounds causing bulls to come into winter in poor body condition, making them more susceptible to the scabies mite and other diseases.

  • Elk have a two layer coat: a wooly undercoat and longer hollow guard hairs with air trapping qualities on top. The winter coat is shed in the spring and replaced by a thin, sleek summer coat.
  • Elk will lie with their feet tucked under the body to reduce heat loss during cold winter days and nights.
  • Elk have a reduced blood supply to their legs which keeps their core body temperature higher.
  • Elk herd together during storms to prevent heat loss.
  • Energy intensive activities, such as long movements, are reduced in the winter.

Some Facts:

  • Wapiti is the Shawnee name for elk meaning “white rump”.
  • A bull averages 600 lbs. in winter and 700 lbs. in summer.
  • A cow averages 500 lbs. in winter and 450-500 lbs. in summer. Calves weigh 30-35 lbs. at birth.
  • During a calf’s first winter they weigh an average of 250 lbs.
  • Elk can run at speed bursts up to 45 mph and can sustain 30 mph.
  • Elk eat about 20 lbs. of grass per day. They eat about half this during the winter because the grass is cured, less digestible and less available.
  • Calves have virtually no odor at birth and blend well with their surroundings.
  • Elk are ruminants like cows and have four stomachs.

More to come…..


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