By: Bears Butt

AnxiousElkHerdToday was a beautiful day to be up in the mountains and especially at the Hardware Ranch to assist with feeding the elk.  This picture is of the hungry herd of elk that are currently on the ranch.  Marni, the assistant manager says the herd can vary by up to 100 head from day to day, plus or minus.  This looks to me to be between 200 and 300 head.

We arrived about 9:30 a.m. and the temperature was brisk, but not extremely cold.  The ranch manager, Brad, was out feeding the elk that are in a holding pen awaiting brucellosis testing.  And soon he would load the feeding wagon with 5 large, 800 plus pound bales for today’s feeding.

Tracker, Bones, Winemaker and I waited patiently as we knew there was to be some kids from the Mount Logan Middle School coming up to help.

We immediately saw a small band of turkeys near by.


Before the day was over, we saw close to 30 birds in varying band sizes.  All of them look very healthy!

It didn’t take long before a lady with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources showed up to help as well.  She is actually a graduate student working on her doctorate and she had been called late last night to go up to the ranch.  Her main job was to pick up “test” food that had been left on the ranch for the elk to pick through.  The Utah State University students studying wildlife habitat (I’m guessing at this) are looking for alternate food supplements for elk and had eight different mixes of various food products out in feed bins among the elk.  Her job was to pick up the feed that was left in the bins and bring it all back for weighing and comparative testing.  We would do our part to assist her with that task as well as the feeding of the elk.

Pretty soon the students from the middle school arrived and we were all set to go.  All of us were involved in some way.  The object of having the kids there was to give them first hand experience in the feeding program, but also to teach them a few things about the ranch, about elk and with this special feeding program being tested, they even got a bit of High Tech stuff to learn.  I really enjoyed listening to Marni, the “Doctor” and the students teacher fill them with good information and also test their thinking by asking pertinent questions.

These kids are all in the sixth grade and the program they are working in calls for them to have all their other assignments completed in all their other subjects before they are even considered to go out and play on a day trip like this one.  These happened to be all boys today and they were all very willing to step in and do their part.

Marni was called upon to drive the tractor that pulled the 2 tons of hay out to the meadow where the elk were herded up.  The first order of business however, was to load the catch pen up with fresh hay and get the trip wire set to close the door behind the elk that venture into the catch pen.



If you can see the open red gate in this picture, that gate gets closed once the hay is loaded into the catch pen.  The bars on the gate keep the larger bull elk from going into the pen.  Brad told me that if you get big bulls in there, they start to fight and will hurt the other animals and even cause enough damage to the other animals that they would have to be put down.  So they don’t want to catch big bulls.  Mostly cows and calves.

Inside the pen is a long string that is attached to a boarded and hinged panel.  When one of the elk inside the pen happens to “trip the string”, the panel closes, covering the red gate and their avenue of escape is cut off.  Then it’s a simple manner of getting the group of captured elk to move through a small chute and into a larger holding pen.


When they have captured up a given number of elk in this pen, they will then take the time to catch each one and take blood samples to be tested for brucellosis and other diseases.  The animals will be aged and weighed and even tagged before being released back into the wild.

I have to say, our Utah Division of Wildlife Resources people don’t have much time to relax.  There is always something for them to be doing!  The search for “the right answer” is never that easy!  Keep it up folks!

Now for the fun part!  Feeding the big herd of elk!


As the wagon began to move, it was our jobs to pull off slabs of hay from the bales and kick them out to the sides of the wagon and on the ground for the hungry elk.  The elk know the routine, but they also know that people mean trouble and so they kept their distance.  Today, Marni drove the wagon in a zig zag pattern, quite close to the capture pen.  I think the theory is to have the whole herd close and maybe more elk will get inside and get captured.







With a good crew like this one it didn’t take long before we ran ourselves out of work.  5 big bales all strung out across the ranch and 200 to 300 hungry elk taking care of it very quickly!

So, we needed a picture of the kids from the Mount Logan Middle School:


Hey!  But who is the guy in the dark shadow?


When the elk were all fed, it was time to move down to the troughs and pick up the left over test food.


The kids were interested in learning about this special testing and it was up to “Doctor Alex” to tell them about it.


With them gathered around one of the troughs, she explained just what the experiment was all about and what the person who thought it up was hoping to see come of it.  I hope that person finds the results they hoped for.

We went on and cleaned up the troughs and then “headed back to the barn” (now we know where that statement comes from)!!!

Cleaning out the trough



What a fun morning to be at the ranch!

I know for you, Brad and Marni, it’s just another day at the office, but when I look at these pictures and concentrate on the scenery, I just have to say “What a beautiful office to have to work in”!!!!

Thanks for having us up there and please invite us back soon!

Bears Butt

January 21, 2014


Written on January 21st, 2014 , Just more stories

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    Weasel commented

    When we were there feeding on Sunday, they told us there were 485 elk in the herd… I too thought somewhere between 200 and 300, but we were both wrong.

    January 21, 2014 at 6:05 pm | Stories, Ramblings & Random Stuff From an Old Mountain Man is proudly powered by WordPress and the Theme Adventure by Eric Schwarz
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Just some of my old stories, new stories, and in general what is going on in my life.