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Time to check out the bugling elk

One of the coolest things in Oklahoma is the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in southwest Oklahoma between Lawton and Altus. And one of the coolest things you can see and hear on the refuge in September and October are bugling elk.
Oklahoman Published: August 31, 2014
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One of the coolest things in Oklahoma is the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in southwest Oklahoma between Lawton and Altus.

And one of the coolest things you can see and hear on the refuge in September and October are bugling elk.

Reservations for the bus tours to see bugling elk in parts of the refuge that are normally off-limits to the public begin Monday, but they will go fast. In the past, the spots have been filled for the 15 scheduled tours before the morning has ended.

If you don’t take a bus tour, take an early morning or late afternoon drive through the refuge, and there is a very good chance you will at least hear, if not see, bugling elk. The sounds can be heard all over the refuge.

The elk are just now starting to bugle as they enter their mating season, or rut.

The rut begins in September and will last four to six weeks. The bulls will get little rest for food during this time as they become crazed and only think about breeding cows.

The bulls normally live in bachelor groups or alone, but they start to round up cows for their harems in September. The cows and calves, who normally live in loose herds or groups, will soon begin to form harems with one or two mature bulls.

Dominant bulls try to lure as many cows as possible to their harems, but they will be constantly be on the lookout for other bulls who will try to steal a lady away.

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by Ed Godfrey
Copy Editor, Outdoors Editor, Rodeo, River Sports Reporter
Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more...
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ELK BUGLING BUS TOURS

Where: Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

Cost: $5 per person

When: Sept. 7, 13*, 14, 20*, 21, 27*, 28; Oct. 4, 5, 11*, 12, 18*, 19, 25, 26

*6:30 a.m. tours only. All others are evening tours beginning at 5 or 5:30 p.m.

Tour participants meet the bus at the visitor’s center on the refuge. Reservations are required and limited to one family (up to six individuals) per telephone call. People can make reservations for the scheduled bus tours beginning at 9 a.m. Monday.

For tour reservations, call (580) 429-2151. For additional information, visit www.friendsofthewichitas.org.

Did you know?

Established in 1901, the 59,020-acre Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge was initially designated by President William McKinley as a forest preserve. But in 1905, President Teddy Roosevelt championed it as a game preserve, and American bison and elk were reintroduced to the refuge after the original herds had been wiped out by unregulated hunting.

In 1907, 15 bison, six bulls and nine cows, were donated to the refuge by the American Bison Society and the New York Zoological Society and made the trip to Oklahoma from the New York Zoological Park by train.

In 1911, five Rocky Mountain elk, including one bull, were brought to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. The following year, another 15 elk joined them. Now, about 800 to 900 elk roam the refuge, sharing the rangeland with bison, white-tailed deer and Texas longhorn cattle.

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