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Location: Butte, MT
Joined: 01/02/2006
Posts: 233
Elk and Cattle Grazing

Last year about this time, I hiked through a wide meadow (in the Beaverhead National Forest), accessible only by foot or horse (just passing through on the way to an alpine lake). On the opposite side of the meadow, I was pleased to see about 70 head of elk grazing below a south facing slope. They saw me too and shuffled their way up a draw. I made a mental note of that draw and came back during bow season.

When I returned in the fall, bow in hand, I passed through a lower meadow, connected by the same creek. In that meadow there was a giant herd of cattle grazing... no big deal. When I reached my destination, though, I could tell that the herd of cattle had been in the upper meadow probably less than a week prior. It was grazed, fresh cow patties everywhere, and not an elk to be found or heard in the area. I was terribly disappointed. I've heard people say before that they see elk and cattle out grazing the same field, I've even seen it a couple times, myself, but I think that the elk probalby tolerate cattle for a little while, then move on to greener pasture, so to speak. Any of you guys ever see this sort of thing? I suppose it's also possible the elk had just naturally migrated on to a different area by early fall too, but I honestly doubt that. They had everything that elk generally seem to seek out right their.

At any rate, I've scanned that area extensively on topo maps and google earth. If I return to that spot, it will likely be to hunt the area just south of there, thick timber with intermittent springs/small meadows. I was wondering if you guys have seen anything more substantial than I have in terms of how elk react and relate to cattle being grazed in their areas.

Location: Kentucky/ Colorado
Joined: 06/23/2005
Posts: 1748
Elk and Cattle Grazing

I know I have seen them together in the winter but during the summer and fall elk tend to stay by themselves. Last year while hunting public land in WY, I had a hard time finding any elk in the area I had scouted earlier. The rancher that leased the public ground, kept his cattle on the public ground for to long, IMO and overgrazed the area, and even if the elk wanted to be in the area, they didn't have anything to eat.

Bull Buster's picture
Location: Nebraska
Joined: 10/12/2007
Posts: 167
Elk and Cattle Grazing

The rancher that has the forest lease in the area I hunt in Colorado takes his cows out opening day of the 2nd season every year. Or attempts to . There is always some strays around. This year I shot a 6 x 6 opening morning and had to wait for him and the other 2 bulls he was with to walk out away from the cows before I could shoot. I don't think they interact as much as the area that I hunt you can catch the elk moing up the mountain in the morning and sometimes they have to go through the cows to get to there beding area.

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