Riding on the Chill Mountain Air

buglingna elk

You can feel a definite chill in the air now, and for the past few weeks, Rocky Mountain meadows have been filling with elk in rut, as the mating season reaches high hormonal gear. Part of the bull elk’s strategy is to impress the females with their high-pitched bugle call. Bugling is most common early in the morning, and late in the day. No description can match the other-worldly sound itself:

For much more on elk, the Land Library strongly recommends the Smithsonian Institution Press’ North American Elk: Ecology and Management (pictured at the top of this post) — a 1,000 page tome on all-things-elk.


David Petersen, an author and naturalist from Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, has written a very insightful homage to North America’s elk (also called wapiti): Elkheart: A Personal Tribute to Wapiti and Their World. And no elk-shelf would be complete without Olaus Murie’s classic study, The Elk Of North America. In 1927, Murie, a field biologist for the old U.S. Bureau of Biological Survey, undertook the first study of elk in the wilderness of Wyoming’s Teton Mountains.


In 1966, Olaus, and his wife Margaret (Mardy) published a surprise best-seller, Wapiti Wilderness, which describes their adventure-filled years of living in the Tetons, studying elk, and forever remembering distant bugle calls on the frosty autumn air.


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