Questions about bugling and wolves

James Riley

Banned
Joined
Jan 10, 2015
Messages
1,821
Now that I see all the biological/ecological/wildlife professionals we have represented here (How do you make a living thread), I thought I'd ask:

1. Does hunting bulls during the rut work toward bulls that bugle less through natural selection?

2. What, if any, difference is seen between bull elk in Yellowstone before and after wolf reintroduction? Bigger/smaller, bodies/racks, etc.

Just curious if the science is showing anything. Thanks.
 

Gr8bawana

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 14, 2013
Messages
4,696
Location
Nevada
Are you sure you're not an undercover anti? Your questions are kind of strange.
:confused:
 

James Riley

Banned
Joined
Jan 10, 2015
Messages
1,821
Are you sure you're not an undercover anti? Your questions are kind of strange.
:confused:

No, I'm not an undercover anti. The only thing that is strange (though, I guess, predictable), is an anti-intellectual fear of what science has to say about elk.
 

Straight Arrow

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 10, 2009
Messages
4,993
Location
Gallatin Gateway, MT
.. difference is seen between bull elk in Yellowstone before and after wolf reintroduction?
The difference right after lobo intro was a dramatic decrease in the number of bodies of elk, not the size of those animals. It appears recently the elk population is recovering and even increasing some. The wolf population seems to be stabilizing as well. As far as the science of it; wolves, bears, previously too many elk permits, weather patterns, and other factors all have been cited as causal. It really depends on what study and who conducted it as far as the validity of "scientific" conclusions. 'Lots of postulation but few absolute truths.
 

James Riley

Banned
Joined
Jan 10, 2015
Messages
1,821
The difference right after lobo intro was a dramatic decrease in the number of bodies of elk, not the size of those animals. It appears recently the elk population is recovering and even increasing some. The wolf population seems to be stabilizing as well. As far as the science of it; wolves, bears, previously too many elk permits, weather patterns, and other factors all have been cited as causal. It really depends on what study and who conducted it as far as the validity of "scientific" conclusions. 'Lots of postulation but few absolute truths.

Thanks, Straight Arrow. I've read some about the population but was more curious about body size and rack size. I've spent a lot of time in Yellowstone and the refuge (pre-wolf) and was never impressed with the head gear. Don't get me wrong, I've seen great racks there and found some impressive sheds and winter kill, but they just didn't seem all that heavy, wide and long compared to other places I've been. I just wondered if the situation had changed after wolf reintroduction or if that would even have an impact. It is my understanding it's more of a "impress the cows" kind of thing, and a reflection of diet, but I thought I'd ask if there had been any change pre/post wolf.
 

LopeHunter

Well-known member
Joined
May 31, 2007
Messages
3,110
Location
MO-->CA-->NW-->AZ-->NV
Interesting hypothesis. I grew up in Missouri River bottoms and the bucks we found down in the brush along the river tended to have more compact racks. My theory looking back was the antlers are very sensitive when in velvet and bucks with wider racks selected less brushy locations up on the surround hills and corn fields. After the velvet was gone, bucks were used to where they had been for several weeks so just stayed in the brush or up in the hills. Plenty of food and does in all those areas.
 

Straight Arrow

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 10, 2009
Messages
4,993
Location
Gallatin Gateway, MT
The last day of the season, a 420-plus score bull was taken just north of YNP up the Gallatin Canyon, so the big boys still exist in the area. The migrations have changed somewhat, so not as many are readily seen it seems.
 

James Riley

Banned
Joined
Jan 10, 2015
Messages
1,821
Interesting hypothesis. I grew up in Missouri River bottoms and the bucks we found down in the brush along the river tended to have more compact racks. My theory looking back was the antlers are very sensitive when in velvet and bucks with wider racks selected less brushy locations up on the surround hills and corn fields. After the velvet was gone, bucks were used to where they had been for several weeks so just stayed in the brush or up in the hills. Plenty of food and does in all those areas.

Interesting. Sounds reasonable.

Anecdotally, it always seemed to me that racks were narrower and higher in Idaho than MT, WY and CO. I also remember reading somewhere the Merriams Elk had the largest racks of all.

Something that seemed counter-intuitive to me was that Megaloceros giganteus (12' wide) and Bison Latifrons (7' wide) were more open woodland than wide open Savannah/plains/steppe. You'd think with all that head gear they'd prefer the latter.
 

James Riley

Banned
Joined
Jan 10, 2015
Messages
1,821
The last day of the season, a 420-plus score bull was taken just north of YNP up the Gallatin Canyon, so the big boys still exist in the area. The migrations have changed somewhat, so not as many are readily seen it seems.

Were there lots of those before the wolf? I realize one elk does not a study make, but if you stack enough anecdotes on top of each other it can motivate a study.
 

Straight Arrow

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 10, 2009
Messages
4,993
Location
Gallatin Gateway, MT
Were there lots of those before the wolf?
Are there "lots" of 400 plus free roaming public land bulls anywhere?

Point is I don't believe the wolves or anything else lately has changed body and antler conformation of the Northern Yellowstone elk population. Those various factors cited have decimated the numbers shown by population counts however. There are many anecdotal stories of trophy Yellowstone elk, but I haven't seen studies with focus on body size and rack size. Your question does seem odd.
 

James Riley

Banned
Joined
Jan 10, 2015
Messages
1,821
Are there "lots" of 400 plus free roaming public land bulls anywhere?

Point is I don't believe the wolves or anything else lately has changed body and antler conformation of the Northern Yellowstone elk population. Those various factors cited have decimated the numbers shown by population counts however. There are many anecdotal stories of trophy Yellowstone elk, but I haven't seen studies with focus on body size and rack size. Your question does seem odd.

I don't know if there is any science on 400 plus free roaming public land bulls anywhere compared with relative ratios of such bulls over time (and predator absence/presence). Maybe the Boone and Crockett Records would be a good start. (Though, other than state, I don't know how specific they get on location).

Intellectually curiosity can seem odd, especially to those who don't have it (or the paranoid). If you haven't seen any studies then enough said. Maybe someone else will chime in.
 

James Riley

Banned
Joined
Jan 10, 2015
Messages
1,821
I honestly never thought for a moment that my questions would cast me as suspect in some way. Now that I've been called out, I wonder if is not me but, rather, the answers to my questions which might not be palatable for some reason.

I've already explained the genesis of my questions about bulls/racks/wolves. As to bugling, my curiosity stems from personal anecdote only and thus I wondered if there was any science. I started hunting elk in the mid-70s. It just seemed to me that over the years they are less aggressive when they come in and they don't come in as readily as they used to. My bugling may not be award-winning but I'm pretty sure it has not gotten worse over time. It just seemed intuitive that if bulls that came in easy and bugled the most got shot the most, the breeding would get done by the quieter bulls that hung back. I don't know if there is any science on that.

In the end though, I'm not sure how any answer to either question would pose a threat to hunting or somehow be used as a talking point for anti's. I'd think elk hunters, of all people, would like to know what's happening on the ground, where, when, why, how, etc.. :confused:
 
Last edited:

gwhunter

Active member
Joined
Jun 16, 2014
Messages
683
Location
Michigan
It just seemed intuitive that if bulls that came in easy and bugled the most got shot the most, the breeding would get done by the quieter bulls that hung back. I don't know if there is any science on that.

This is only my .02 as I don't have any science to back this up, but my assumption would be that it would take longer than a couple of generations to have this trait "bred out" of the gene pool. While it does make sense my guess would be in the ballpark of a couple of hundred years to see any noticeable change for something like this. But, we all know what happens when a person assumes so we may need one of the animal scientists on here to help us out.
 

SnowyMountaineer

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 11, 2009
Messages
3,574
Location
WY
Reasonable questions in my opinion.

As to the Yellowstone question: There haven't been enough population cycles since wolf re-introduction to do anything meaningful in terms of genetic morphology.

You could look at the bugling question a few ways but it'd be nearly impossible to quantify. It's been considered academically, but to my knowledge not studied in depth (I could be wrong). There is no way I see to have a proper control, because many co-variates can influence how/when/why bulls bugle--genetic predisposition (which I assume is your focus by saying "natural selection") may be far down the list if on it at all. If you somehow had the money to eliminate environmental variables and tease out trait selection you'd run into the problem of sample size and the aforementioned limited number of population cycles. It would also mean little or nothing at a landscape level.

Just my thoughts.
 

kansasdad

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 30, 2011
Messages
5,797
Location
Wichita
In regards to bugling, I know that turkey gobbling has been called into the same type of question. Those "Sneaky Pete" birds don't give up their location to a hunter, thus it may be theorized that they may not be subjected to the same intensity of harvest.
 

James Riley

Banned
Joined
Jan 10, 2015
Messages
1,821
In regards to bugling, I know that turkey gobbling has been called into the same type of question. Those "Sneaky Pete" birds don't give up their location to a hunter, thus it may be theorized that they may not be subjected to the same intensity of harvest.

Assuming one lives longer than the other, comparing elk with turkeys brings up an interesting point. If you find a critter with shorter generational cycles, like a fruit fly but which had a mating call, you might be able to speed up the science. I'm not saying bugs are translatable to elk/turkeys etc but science has been known to extrapolate like that in order to provide hypothesis for further study. There might even be some other mammal with a faster turn around time, if not faster than a bug.

My son has heard me bugle in elk. Hopefully his son will too, and his son, etc. I guess Parks could always provide nursery stock anyway so maybe my question is not that interesting.
 

Forum statistics

Threads
102,502
Messages
1,652,917
Members
32,020
Latest member
stan5677
Top