Whose Antlers Are Those?

Jackson Hole, National Parks, Wildlife

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Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park host annual animal and bird surveys – and the Christmas Bird Count was one of my father’s favorite events of the year. It seems as though birds and other residents of our ecosystem would be easier to spot in winter, when the seasonal background is mostly white and grey. You’d think that the mighty Bull Moose would be the easiest to spot. And they’re definitely here. Wildlife-spotters can find them around Blacktail Butte, along the Gros Ventre River corridor, and along the highway from the Wilson Bridge to Teton Village (an especially hazardous area for moose due to heavy vehicle traffic). But the Bull Moose, like many antlered animals in our neighborhood, wears a winter disguise.

Flashback to 1992, when my wife was working in a jewelry store on the Jackson Hole town square. A visitor from some coastal city stopped in to shop, and commented on Jackson’s famous antler arches. “How horrible,” she lamented, “that so many beautiful creatures had to be killed to make those disgusting arches!” Eager to set her mind at ease, my wife happily informed this out-of-towner that members of the deer family – like elk, moose, and mule deer – shed their antlers after the fall rut and regrow them the following spring. This visitor’s eyes widened in disbelief. “That’s completely ridiculous. What kind of fool do you take me for?” Needless to say, she left the store empty handed. …continue reading Whose Antlers Are Those?

Boogie woogie bugle boys – aka the elk are about to start bugling.

Barker-Ewing, Jackson Hole, Rafting, Wildlife

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Bull elk in autumn
Have you ever heard an elk bugle? It’s an amazing, haunting, primal sound that a bull elk makes when in rut. (Rut is the mating season and when the mature bulls compete for the attentions of the cow elk and will try to defend females in their harem. Rival bulls challenge their opponents by bellowing at them.) This bugling is something we hear starting in mid-September and it’s really a special thing we love to share with our guests. You can hear it here. …continue reading Boogie woogie bugle boys – aka the elk are about to start bugling.