elk migration?

Discussion in 'Elk Hunting' started by 82ndreddevil, Oct 7, 2011.

  1. 82ndreddevil

    82ndreddevil Well-Known Member

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    Looking for some info on elk migration. Many books or articles talk about how elk will migrate from higher elevations to lower elevations. So my first question is do they migrate based on temperature drop, or snow cover over food sources? Or do they migrate instinctively at certain times of year regardless of weather? I have also looked for elk migration routes or maps and cannot seem to strike any luck in that area. I found a site that makes them for WY,CO, and MT, but not NM. Any info would be much appreciated.
     
  2. permaculture

    permaculture Well-Known Member

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    I called the Colorado DOW and they stated migration was based on snow. I am sure that is more of general statement and give given the snow this weekend the week before rifle 1, who knows what will happen

    If you go here
    Colorado Hunting Atlas
    you can display a map showing migration routes for colorado
     

  3. WyoElk2Hunt

    WyoElk2Hunt Well-Known Member

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    Temperature has nothing to do with it as Elk stay in Yellowstore all winter and even in lower elevation they are ok at minus 40 and 60 below zero. Snow debeth is a very moving factor as they can't get to food in most areas as in Yellowstone they stay around areas that have hot pools where they can get food. Time of year has very little to do with it as they actually have to make the elk leave the feed grounds in spring with four wheelers as they still have food. Food sourses are the main basis of migration to the best of my knowledge. The routes they take are ususally based on where no one bothers them and food supply.
     
  4. whit

    whit Member

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    I just returned from a hunt in Chama, NM. Early snowfall had pushed the elk lower on the mountain but as soon as the snow melted they moved back up the mountain.
     
  5. 82ndreddevil

    82ndreddevil Well-Known Member

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    Good job on your hunt, i know that area well. I was just south of that area last weekend to scout my hunt and yea that snow was pretty cool. What I am looking for is not so much the they come down, then they go back up.
    For example, the unit I am going to shares its herd with another unit. That herd does not move into my unit until the migration process begins. This is information I got from consulting a game biologist for that area so its not some theory i dreamed up. I have hunted this area twice, and you can see a huge difference from the amount of animals you will see on a early October rifle bull hunt and a late season cow hunt.
    So what I am curious about is what corridors are used for the seasonal migration and if these early winter storms is going to have any effect on a herd such as starting the migration process early. Thats the thing about these public draw hunts. You apply in April for an area not knowing what the weather is going to bring. Congrats on your hunt.
     
  6. MHO

    MHO Well-Known Member

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    Snow is what will trigger them, as stated before temps has no bearing on their migration.
     
  7. kcebcj

    kcebcj Well-Known Member

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    I'm just guessing here but it's almost like elk and deer can sense the change in barometric pressure. Everyone that has spent time in the mountains during the fall has seen how the elk and deer will feed all day just prior to a large storm rolling in. How do they know that?

    What I have noticed is the movement start, really depends on how far the animal needs to go to get to the winter feeding ground. Was having a conversation with a Wyoming Fish and Wildlife fella in Afton Wyoming years ago about the migrations in the Salt River Range and because of the distance one of the herds moved just the slightest skiff of snow started the movement . That particular herd he said wintered near Kemmer Wyoming and the distance they moved was about 150+ miles. I noticed the same kind of thing here in Idaho's unit 39 as some move from the Sawtooth Wilderness to the Boise front 60-100 miles.

    Here where I live all the animals just move down towards the Snake or Salmon rivers which is only a few miles so there is no noticeable movement. One day you just notice everything is gone. So my conclusion is that it's the distance the animal has to move and the availability of food along the way that determines when they start to move once the pressure drops and the weather starts to move in.

    One other thing the major migration routes remain the same year after year. They will use the same ridges and trails. I have witnessed this and know it to be true. So I guess that knowledge is passed from one generation to the next. Pretty cool!
     
  8. newmexkid

    newmexkid Well-Known Member

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    Snow was always a positive factor in the years I lived and hunted in Wyoming.
     
  9. bigngreen

    bigngreen Well-Known Member

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    Two things move them in my area, snow moves them to winter grounds and the arrival of half of California and Utah a week before general season opens. The weather is fine and no snow but the elk bunch up and move down to private ground the last week of bow season just in time to have guys running all over creation "scouting" elk.