© 2014-2021 Copyright by P. K. H. Groth, Denver, Colorado, USA All rights reserved - See contact page for for permission to republish article excerpts.
Daily Elk Movements: More animal science needs to be offered the modern hunter, and here is some. This is one of my unique hunting illustrations in my book. The data were obtained by elk research scientists studying the disturbance effects of vehicle, horse, bicycle and foot traffic in an elk habitat. Satellite radio collars precisely tracked not elk spatial movements, but also elk movement rates over many days. I discuss the disturbance conclusions in my book. The study largely concentrated on disturbances to elk, but overlooked the pertinence to hunters. The researchers also tracked the elk movements during periods when there were no human activity disturbances. The movement annotations to the their data are my interpretations of why elk move over a day. Notice the post-noon movement that occurs on warm days. Warm air combined with sunlight shining directly down through trees cause discomfort for heavily furred and sub-hide fattened fall elk. These movement are alluded to by some authors, but the scientific data are not presented. Do not be back in camp eating lunch with your buddies on these days! You will do best to carry a bag lunch and a book to ​keep you quiet and content. Elsewhere in this website is a story about how I ignorantly forgot this mid day movement! The Phantom Electric Fence Deer apparently can behave peculiarly even several generations after their forebears were affected by barriers. An iron fence divided Bavaria from Czechoslovakia during the Cold War. A second fence was two to five miles inside the actual Czech border. This was an electrified barbwire fence used to keep Czechs from fleeing the country. The electric fence was removed over twenty years ago. There is a group of red deer in the Sumava National Park that still will not go near the position of the former electric fence. The aversion to the fence's phantom zone appears to have been transferred from doe to fawns over several generations. Researcher Pavel Sustr found that another red deer group in Bavaria which had never been exposed to the electric fence migrates freely across this phantom zone (R. Siegel, 2014). Modern epigenetics is reveling that extreme experiences,emotions and habits can almost instantaneously alter genomes. Activity in an area can cause game to migrate. Consider where you are hunting and what might have happened in the area before the hunting season, or even many years ago. Are there signs of a lot of summer activities, recent logging, mining or road building? In 2014 I tried in vain to archery hunt deer where deer normally are. I saw none. Asking a local resident when exiting after one futile day, I found out that the EPA had been rumbling trucks and heavy reclamation equipment up the valley all summer to seal an old gold mine. Three years later there still are few deer there. Magnetic Deer Movement and Dog Pooping Google Earth images are exposing some pretty interesting animal habits and abilities. Hynek Burda of the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, statistically studied satellite images of thousands of resting and grazing cattle and deer around the world. The cattle tend to be oriented facing the north or south magnetic poles. Deer show similar orientation predispositions. It appears the large mammals join some bats and rodent species in responding to geomagnetism. The north-south alignments of deer and cattle are not apparent when they are under randomly traversing under power lines. There the animals are in random positions when resting or grazing. However, east-west orientation is observed under power lines that are running east-west (N. Greenfieldboyce, 2009). Czech University of Life Sciences researchers observed thousands of dogs preparing for urination and defecation. They found that dogs like to poop when being aligned north-south when the earth's magnetic flux is stable. Their directional behavior is absent when the magnetic flux is unstable (M. Memmott, 2014). There always seems to be fodder for another thesis project. Elk Move After a Bitter Cold Stormy Spell: Ranchers have observed the north south orientation of cattle. Chilled cattle will face north in the morning (northern hemisphere) to expose their bodies to the most heat from the rising sun. They will align E-W when resting on very hot days. Elk too like to warm in a morning sun after a particularly cold spell. I suggest morning scoping east facing tree lines with the intent of seeing elk lounging with their broadside facing the sun. That is how the bull pictured below was found napping.
Elk and Deer Behavior