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Here Comes Fall!!!
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The air is different. The tomato plants are changing to a different production mode. School has started. Shore birds are migrating with more urgency through our marsh. I can hear thumps and grunts coming from the football field 2 blocks away. It is cool in the mornings. Doves are starting to gather for their annual exodus with the first cold snap. White-tailed fawns are starting to lose their spots. Change is here.
Kansas elk are losing the velvet from their horns. We don’t think about elk in Kansas very much-- more  emphasis is placed on the western states. There were significant herds roaming Kansas in the 1800’s. Many families were fed by these animals that weigh up to about 900-1,000 lbs which is 2-4 times the size of a large white-tailed deer. Most elk were forced west into the Rocky Mountains by the late 1800’s. Every year there are many sightings and trail camera detections of free ranging elk in Kansas. My friend who has some elk behind a high fence found a segment of that fence wrecked by 2 bulls fighting during the rut--one inside and one outside the fence. We had a young bull meandering through the Bottoms last year. Sadly--- I never got a photograph. Fort Riley has a herd of about 200 animals and has a special draw for a tag. I have tried 2 or 3 times and continue to be unsuccessful. Gene Manweiler is more fortunate than me.
I will hunt elk in Colorado and Wyoming with my bow this year. It will be different-- my friend and co-hunter for more than 50 years died a couple of months ago. He is buried on the ranch facing the mountains that we loved for so long. The elk always sang our song. That first urgent screaming bugle will put a lump in my throat. There is no sound like that anywhere else in the world. No other animal has the same appeal as the wily elk. This hunt is a tradition from my childhood and has never changed in my entire life. It makes my heart beat stronger and validates my heritage. Every elk hunter knows exactly what I mean. Good luck guys-- we are successful if all we do is hear one of those guys raging on the mountain.