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?