Elk are a member of the deer family along with Moose, Caribou, Mule deer, & White-tailed deer in North America.

Lets start with the basics. An elks body varies from deep copper brown to light tan year round with a lighter tan or beige on the rump and generally darker on the legs and neck. Elk grow winter coats consisting of long, thick, waterproof guard hairs covering a dense woolly underfur. An elk’s summer coat consists of short, stiff, relatively sparse hairs.

An adult male elk is called a bull and sits right around 700 pounds (315 kg), is about 5 feet (1.5 m) tall at the shoulder, and on average about 8 feet (2.4 m) long from nose to tail. Only male elk have antlers and they regrow them every year. New antlers are covered in a fuzzy skin called velvet that peels off by late summer as the antlers harden. By the end of September the antlers are solid bone and can weigh upwards of 40lbs! A less mature yearling bull is called a spike and generally only has a main beam or ‘spike’ for antlers. Bulls live in bachelor groups or alone other than during the rut when they will claim a group of cows and their calves.

An adult female is called a cow and is about 500 pounds (225 kg), 4 1/2 feet (1.3 m) tall, and 6 1/2 feet (2 m) long. A baby elk is called a calf and newborns usually come in around 35-40lbs. The calves are born spotted and odorless.Typically the calving is in late May through early June, but they tend to spend their first few weeks hiding motionless when their mothers are out feeding. The calves and cows live in herds together until the young bulls are old enough to be cast out on their own. These groups are led by an experienced elk, usually called the lead cow, who defends the heard and guides them between seasonal ranges.

Elk mating season is referred to as the rut and it lasts throughout the fall. The bulls gather the herds of cows and calves into groups called harems that they guard ferociously. Bulls will even wage violent battles for a harem and have been known to fight to the death. The bulls call, or bugle, to the cows and to attract them and claim their territory. Bulls will also wallow in mud to coat themselves with “perfume” to attract cows as well as rub trees, shrubs and the ground with their antlers to attract cows and intimidate other bulls in the area.

Elk live on a diet of mostly grass, however in the winter they will branch out into shrubs, tree bark and twigs. Elk may supplement their diet at licks, when available, where they take in minerals that may help them grow healthy coats and produce nutritious milk. Elk live in a variety of habitats all over the world from rain forests to dry desert valleys and hardwood forests. Before European settlement of North America it was believed to be home to nearly 10 million elk, by the end of 1900 there where less than 100,000 elk from cost to cost. Thanks to great wild life management the elk herds numbers are closer to one million. The elk has a very similar set up to the common cow as far as its digestive track. An elk’s stomach has four chambers: the first stores food, and the other three digest it. The elk only have two teeth on top called “ivories”, these are believed to be remnants of tusks in their ancestors.

This is only scratching the surface on this great animal. Look back for more information!

 

Tucker Stoffers

Today is a great sunny day here in the Wasatch front and the family is planning on going outdoors together for the first time this year. We are planning on going for a hike down the Provo Canyon River Parkway. The trail is open sunrise to sunset and is an easy paved trail with excellent stopping points to catch a breath and to take in great views of the canyon and Provo River (one of the worlds premier fly fishing locations). We will be starting towards the trail’s eastern terminus just before the rivers “blue ribbon” section begins and will then follow up the trail towards Bridal Veil Falls (A double-cataract waterfall, that can actually be seen from the road.) to see if there is another trail head that we can follow to gain a more enchanting view of Bridal

Elk in Provo Canyon

Veil Falls. The backpacks are ready to go with our snacks, water, and of course our trusty range finder for wildlife observation. Hopefully we can catch a glimpse of a moose which are known to be coming down and feeding on the river starting about this time of year. The canyon is also known to give you a great opportunity to see elk herds without much bushwhacking this early as since it is still colder and the foliage is still covered in snow means that most of the elk are much lower than typical winters, so they are easy to find. If you do see these animals make sure to give them the respect they deserve and view them from a distance.

The Quaking Aspen, Populus tremuloides, or simply just, the quaking? The name references the quaking or trembling of the leaves that occurs in even a slight breeze due to the flattened leaves. This quaking of the leaves produces a soft sound that many consider a hallmark of the Quaking Aspen.  It is a tall, fast growing tree, usually 66–82 feet tall at maturity, with a trunk about 7.9–31 inches in diameter. The bark is relatively smooth white to gray and has thick black  scars and prominent black knots. Can be found in most parts of North America.

Laser range finders calculate the distance to an object by bouncing an approved eyesafe laser beam off of a target and measuring the time until the beam returns. Todays laser range finders are generally accurate to within one yard in almost any condition and have the ability to measure distances to reflective targets up to 1500 yards (almost a mile). With todays technology most laser rangefinders are lightweight, easy to use, one hand operation is a must, precipitation and dust proof, have brush modes to go through brush to get to your actual target, have advanced lenses for optimal proformance in low light conditions, and generally have integrated digital or optical magnification.

As I’m a Utahan born and raised and I’ve noticed the recent influx on Whitetail deer in a Mule Deer range so I thought I’d compare the two cousins for everyone.

            Whitetail deer could be described as having a reddish-brown coat in the spring that becomes more of a grayish-brown during the fall and winter. They got their name for the white underside of it’s tail. They stand about three feet tall with the buck weighing in around 130-220 lbs. and the doe coming in anywhere from 90-200 lbs. The mule deer is generally a grayish brown year round. The mule deer gets its name from the size of its mule-like ears. Mule deer have a white rump patch around tail, which is thinner than the broad tail of the whitetail, and has a black tip. The mule deer stand three to three and a half feet tall at the shoulder, with bucks weighing 125-250 lbs. and does weighing in between 100 and 150 pounds.

            The whitetail bucks re-grow their antlers every year and they consist of a main beam with prongs off of it. Bucks less than two years of age typically have short spiked antlers consisting of just the main beam. Antlers begin to grow in late spring; covered with a tissue known as velvet. Bucks shed their antlers when all females have been bred, from late December to February.

With mule deer the antlers are generally also only found only on bucks, but they begin growing in late winter and will reach full growth by late summer. Developing antlers are covered with a  velvet which supplies blood and nutrients to the developing bone. The velvet is shed by early fall and the antlers harden. The antlers have a main beam which splits or forks into two

branches with each branch or tine (point) being approximately the same length. Antlers are shed yearly, usually by late December.

With both species antler points cannot be used to determine the age of a deer, however

with proper nutrition, older deer generally have larger antlers with more points than do younger deer.

The whitetail is a much older species being around for over 4 million years, where the muley has only been around for about 15,000. Throughout this time the whitetail has become a much more resilient species and are very resistant to parasites and diseases, in fact whitetail carry many diseases that mule deer are very susceptible to. The whitetail also has a very high reproductive rate with nearly equal buck to doe ratios and doe fawns able to breed their first fall, where mule deer have a very low buck to doe ratio and their doe fawns take much longer to mature. In the same environment the whitetail outcompete the muley’s for food and the hybridization greatly favors the whitetail with whitetail hybrids (white tail buck, mule deer doe) being strong and muley hybrids generally dying at birth (mule deer buck, white tail doe).

For these reasons and more the whitetail are rapidly closing in on the mule deer ranges. In fact the whitetail are starting to displace mule deer in Idaho, Montana, and Canada and the Mule deer ranges are significantly smaller than their historic ranges. And with an estimated population of 200 animals here in Utah (expected to double yearly) the whitetails are looking to displace our beloved muley here in Utah as well.

For some great tips on helping your local wildlife by thinning out the heard and to discover the closely guarded true secrets of master hunters Click Here!

Today’s blog is about my first Pronghorn hunt. A few years ago i had the opportunity to put in with my dad for an antelope hunt in Wyoming and we drew out. I had often seen the large herds of pronghorn off the highways when i was traveling, however I’d never been out on a hunt. I learned alot about them before i went on this first hunt and it became one of my favorite big game hunts. I thought that I’d like to share what i learned with you. I never knew how small they actually stood in stature, an adult male pronghorn only stands about three feet to the shoulder and only weigh about 100lbs give or take. Each “horn” of the pronghorn is comprised of a flat blade of bone which grows from the frontal bones of the skull, which makes a permanent core. Skin grows over the bony cores, but with the pronghorn it turns into a hard sheath which is shed and regrown on an annual basis. Unlike the horns of other antelope, the horn sheaths of the pronghorn are branched, each sheath possessing a forward pointing tine (hence the name pronghorn). The horns of males are usually nice in form and easy to recognise, however in the females they are either small, non-typical, or not even there. And man are these little guys fast, you can tell they evolved for maximum predator evasion through running. Through more reserch I’ve found it is generally accepted to be the fastest land mammal in America. Their top speeds range anywhere from 40-50MPH which makes it the 2nd fastest land mammal, second only to the cheetah. But what makes these guys exceptionally tricky is that a pronghorn can sustain high speeds much longer than cheetahs. The pronghorn probably evolved its running ability to escape from the recently extinct American cheetah, since its speed greatly exceeds that of other North American predators.

It has a very large heart and lungs, and their hair is hollow. Although built for speed, it is a very poor jumper. Their ranges are often affected by sheep or cattle ranchers’ fences. However, they can be seen going under fences, sometimes at high speed. 

In the end all six hunters that came with us where successful and it was a great trip that i highly recommend you take if you have the means and opportunity. look for more posts about the details of our hunt later on.

The Nikon Laser 600 range finder is a compact, pocket size, rangefinder. The Laser 600 laser range finder features a Dach-prism monocular with multi-coated optics and 6x magnification. It uses a large, easy to read, LCD display. The display, when activated, shows a crosshair reticle for targeting, meter or yard mode designations, and a battery indicator. There are Power and Mode buttons on top of the unit where they are easy to press while using the range finder one-handed. The Laser 600 comes in two different color options, an all black finish and a Team RealTree HD camouflage finish. The basic specs on this handy little range finder are as follows:

-Magnification x: 6
– Objective Diameter (mm): 20
– Real Angular Field of View: 6.3
– Apparent Angular Field of View: 37.8
– FOV@1000 yards (ft): 330
– Close Ranging Distance (yards): 11
– Exit Pupil (mm): 3.3
– Relative Brightness: 10.9
– Eye Relief (mm): 17
– Size (L&W) inches: 3.7×2.8
– Size (L&W) mm: 96×72
– Weight (w/o batteries) oz./grams: 7.4/210

All these awesome features make the Nikon Laser 600 laser range finder is really simple to use and that makes for an excellent field tool. You simply bring the eyepiece up to your eye,he eyepiece is rubber covered to protect eyeglasses from scratches and adds comfort to the naked eye, and press the power button once to activate, then again to measure the distance to the target (to switch between yards and meters simply press the mode button). To use continuous mode you simply hold the power button and you can move from target to target getting updating distance readings on each. When you release the power button the last distance measured remains until the unit shuts down after 8 seconds of inactivity.

After intensive review the Nikon Laser 600 is exactly what you’ve come to expect from Nikon, a high quality accurate rangefinder, which lives up to the specifications Nikon advertises.

“Nikon Sport Optics is proud to announce a new solution to a problem many hunters have faced while in the field. For years hunters have struggled with managing a rangefinder and binocular (along with their weapon) while allowing fast, quiet access to both. The Nikon Retractable Rangefinder Tether features a thin rubber-coated cable that secures the hunter’s rangefinder for hassle-free, quick access. The auto-retract feature keeps the cable, and the rangefinder, out of the way when the rangefinder is not in use.The clip on the tether allows easy attachment to a belt loop, safety harness or other point. The Rangefinder Tether is compact, easy to use, and makes it fast and easy to range. The Nikon Rangefinder Retractor is an economical way to be a better organized hunter.” – Quote from Nikon’s product release for the retractable tether.

We at MyRangeFinder.com are proud to carry Nikon’s retractable tether. I had the opportunity to use the tether on a recent outing.  After use for only a few short minutes I could tell you it lives up to they hype, The tether keeps your rangefinder close at hand and yet safe and secure when you aren’t using it. The Rangefinder Tether is manufactured for Nikon Inc. by Hammerhead Industries and with quality. It is completely waterproof and self-flushing, the cable is a nylon coated stainless steel cable with over a 60 pound breaking strength! Not to mention it extends out to a plenty long 25 inches with a nine ounce retraction force. Oh and not to forget the all stainless steel hardware and spring. And for even further peace of mind, Nikon will replace the cable and any worn parts of the range finder tether for a service charge of only $8.00.

I used the range finder tether’s swivel clip to attach it to my pants, by means of a belt loop, on one end, and Nikon’s Monarch 800 range finder on the other end of the tether using the sturdy split ring. I could tell instantly there was no sag and the tether held the weight of the rangefinder with no problem (as designed). The tether easily extended for quick use of my rangefinder, and with the swivel clip you feel freedom of movement and low levels of restriction when in use.

The only problem i found with this is to much freedom! The rangefinder had the freedom to sing around a little more than i liked, however with a little problem solving the problem was easily remedied. After a couple seconds of searching i found that the coat I was wearing had a few utility pockets with a loop or ring to clip to. I simply moved my rangefinder into that easily accessible pocket off of my chest and left it unzipped. The coat kept the range finder from swaying too much and the tether kept it in place, easy to control, and safe.

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