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Elk Opportunities Abound in October!

The elk rut is winding down, but watching Elk Cam is still a great option!

By Jackie Rosenberger/DWR

Photos by Meghan Marchetti/DWR

As the DWR Elk Project Leader, I lead many of the DWR elk viewing tours, and on one I did a few days ago, we didn’t see many big groups of elk. So I have a hunch that the elk are starting to break up their harems. Folks who are watching the Elk Cam live stream will likely still be able to see and hear bulls bugling. The elk typically exhibit rut behavior throughout the month of October, but at this point, the elk are in the process of winding down from the rut.

The Elk Cam will be streaming through December, though! The key rut behaviors that make the elk more visible and fun to view might be winding down, but elk cam is still really cool to tune into because even though the bulls aren’t bugling, it’s still a lot of fun to watch them on the landscape, eating and interacting with one another. This winter, we’ll capture a few cows to put GPS collars on them to monitor their movements.

An image of an adult elk with an impressive rack of antlers and small yellow flowers surrounding him.

The rut may be ending, but there’s still lots to see of the elk herd.

This coming weekend is a fun time—it’s the Southern Gap Elk Fest, which is hosted by Buchanan County Tourism, Southern Gap Outdoor Adventures, SWVA Sportsmen, and the SWVA Coalfields Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation on October 20-22 at Southern Gap Outdoor Adventures in Grundy, Virginia. DWR will have a table all day Friday and Saturday to interact with people and we’ll be doing presentations on elk and birding. Elk Fest has all kinds of fun family activities like archery and fishing, and a lot of vendors with crafts and food. It’s elk-themed with a lot of family fun. There are also three elk tours during Elk Fest led by Southwest Virginia Sportsmen. It’s a great opportunity for DWR to interact with the public.

The last DWR-guided elk viewing tour is next Tuesday and the Breaks Interstate Park tours will end in late October. Visitors can still visit the elk viewing platforms at the Southern Gap Outdoor Adventure Center and those have been really popular this fall.

The elk herd has really impacted the Buchanan County community. The first elk hunt was a great example of that. We had a ton of volunteers that came and helped throughout the weekend. And there were quite a few landowners who got involved. At one point, there was a crowd of about 50 people at the check station, asking questions and fascinated by what was going on. It turned out to be a big community kind of event.

Elk Fest seems to be growing every year and a lot of local folks are involved in that. The residents of Buchanan County seems really excited about the tours, the herd, and the hunt. This year, elk cam and the elk-viewing tours are breaking records. The elk program, especially related to recreation, is really positive right now and has been fun to be a part of.

Jackie Rosenberger is DWR’s Elk Project Leader.

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  • October 20, 2022