Sunday, August 30, 2009

My First Elk

On August 19th, I took a trip to the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa. The Iowa State Fair is one of the best in the nation--having a plethora of live entertainment opportunities, interesting exhibits, and roughly 50 different foods on a stick. Since Iowa is one of the premier states of the midwest, you can be sure the livestock building is a hot spot for all visitors. It appears Iowan farmers do their best to raise the largest livestock possible(which seems more cruel than anything else...true, I saw the biggest hog of my life, but it looked like standing was one heck of a chore for that 1300 pound monster!).

The livestock barn had more to offer than simply obese mammals with awards pinned to the stalls. Many exotic animals not necessarily native to the state are being raised by farmers, and they love to show them off. Many species of sheep and goat were on display, as well as rabbits and other small game. As I was perusing through the various animals, it was brought to my attention that an animal down the way should really grab my attention. I glanced down to see a tall green stall with large antlers moving about. The antlers were very recognizable--it was an elk!

Up to this point, I had never seen a live elk before. Iowa doesn't necessarily offer the correct terrain for elk to thrive. Every now and again, an elk will make its way from the west and wander in the state, but it usually vacates the area rather quickly. The same happens with moose and bear. Since I live in the central part of the state, the straying animals rarely make it that far into the state without being run off.

Finally, I made my way down to the elk stall. I was very surprised at the size of this beast! I've watched many elk hunts on television and internet, but it is almost impossible to understand the size of an elk unless you are standing right next to one.

The elk you see here is one of many being raised in Iowa. To my knowledge, these elk are not being raised for any type of hunting. They are treated more as cattle and are butchered for the meat.

Exotic game farms do exist in Iowa. Whether or not they use elk in these game farms, I am not sure. I want to say I have heard of elk hunts taking place, but it isn't something I've followed very closely or really have an interest in. I would certainly love to take a gander at one of these big guys in the wild!

Have you ever had the chance to hunt elk in the Western United States? If so, what was it like? If not, what stops you from going?


  1. I did have the chance to go Elk hunting a coulple of times when I lived out in Northern ID. Never even saw one whe we were out hunting.
    :( I did see a few when I wasn't hunting.

  2. The State Fair is a positive attraction for the people of Iowa, or whoever wants to have some fun.

    It sounds like a fun excursion to head West to hunt Elk...The need for physical conditioning would be a major priority if you aren't already to carry heavy backpacks after making the decision to go. Might take some back packing to find your animals.

    An Apple Orchard near us has Elk. At one point they harvested the antlers and sold them to Asian countries, where they were ground and used in an aphrodisiac concoction.

    Hope you get out West one day to get an Elk...;)

  3. I just returned home from opening weekend for elk out here in CO. We didn't see any bulls though. (The husband saw a couple of cow elk at about 100 yards.) They aren't talking quite yet which makes them hard to locate. They don't call them the "ghosts of the rockies" for nothing. We saw a lot of good sign though. Several pine trees and aspen that were thrashed from what has to be a good size bull. We couldn't even reach to the top of one aspen where he had been rubbing his antlers. I'm excited to get back out there this weekend.

    I'm glad you were able to get close to an elk! Experiencing them in the wild is like no other. I've been 5 yards from a bugling bull - It is an experience like no other!

  4. Even though I am not an elk hunter, I have been fortunate enough to see a number of elk in the wild. They are an awesome sight and a bugling elk is sweet music to the ears. Glad you had an up close look at this great animal.

  5. An archery elk hunt is my dream hunt. There are elk in Virginia, but they are few and far between. Very cool that you got to see one up close and personal.