Much, Much Bigger. In fact they’re huge, a bull can be 700, even 900 pounds. To ponder shooting one with a gun is intimidating, to ponder shooting one with a bow and arrow in the old Indian style is mind-numbing. And yes, some modern hunters use bows or muzzle loaders for elk.
Saturday I attended a Big Game Banquet event of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Most folks in Kentucky didn’t have much interest in Western elk until Kentucky become home to 10,000 elk, a great success story of RMEF, and without using taxpayer dollars. The stated mission of the RMEF is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat. In support of this mission the Elk Foundation is committed to:
- Conserving, restoring and enhancing natural habitats;
- Promoting the sound management of wild, free-ranging elk, which may be
hunted or otherwise enjoyed;
- Fostering cooperation among federal, state, tribal and private organizations
and individuals in wildlife management and habitat conservation; and
- Educating members and the public about habitat conservation, the value of
hunting, hunting ethics and wildlife management
In the process, the non-profit organization preserved reclaimed coal-mined land in a land use-friendly manner, re-introduced a species long absent from the state, and aided the economies of the elk habitat areas. Although I grew up among hunters, I’m not a hunter, but it is impossible to live a life that doesn’t destroy animals. If you’re vegan-eating, you’re most likely using meat products somewhere else in your life. In any case animals are killed in the production of your vegetable food source [insects & worms], for the public safety of your geographic area [rats & mosquitos], they’re accidentally killed [cars or tractors tilling garden space], or killed by animals you own [well-fed cats kill songbirds & rabbits for sport]. If you’re skeptical, you need to spend more time outdoors.
If you eat meat, killing your own meat in the wild is almost certainly cleaner and healthier. I’ve watched people eating roast chicken shudder at the thought of killing a deer to eat venison. Amazing. Just because you pick up a plastic-enclosed package of steak at the supermarket, don’t be deceived into thinking that’s a more ‘civilized’ way of eating meat.
I also find it strange when people object to repopulating the state with elk or another animal because ‘the hunters just put them there to kill them.’ Uh, we wouldn’t have a single elk without the hunters’ groups, the hunts are essential to a healthy herd since the elk lack natural predators here, the hunts are carefully controlled, and the overwhelming majority of elk die of old age. Where’s the problem? Would it be better if the elk had never been born?
Here’s some pics from the banquet at Jenny Wiley State Park May Lodge, Prestonsburg Kentucky. Jenny Wiley also offers off-site elk tours. No, they don’t keep a elk herd at the park; that could get really ugly when a bull moose and his harem tromp down into the campground or destroy a few cars in the marina parking lot. Here’s a link to the tour date schedule: http://parks.ky.gov/calendar/details/elk-viewing-tours/12603/ and you can find links to other elk tours in the state. A great all-around site about elk in Kentucky is the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources website, which also links YouTube videos Kentucky Afield‘s Tim Farmer. http://fw.ky.gov/navigation.aspx?cid=159
The elk head below is in the lobby of May Lodge at Jenny Wiley.
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