Thrill to the Beautiful Bugling of the Tule Elk

'Tis the season to hear the antler'd superstars that roam Point Reyes National Seashore.

Sumiko Scott

THE BUGLING OF AN ELK? There are several ways to describe this spectacular call of the wild. "Haunting" works, "epic" feels right, "unforgettable" is perfect, and "nature's voice" would be extremely poetic. However you attempt to sum up this singular sound, you can be assured that, during certain seasons of the year, it is going on, in a wild expanse, as we go about our people-type day-to-day business. If the lure of experiencing bugling, from a safe and respectful distance, is strong, then you might consider following your elk-obsessed heart to...

POINT REYES NATIONAL SEASHORE, where rutting season of the tule elk begins in August and winds down in October. This "exciting time of the year" may even give visitors the chance to see bull elk engaging in some serious sparring action, but like all animal-watching adventures, seeing the critters you've come to see is really up to luck and chance. And, you bet, "from a distance" is the firm rule here: You'll want to arrive with binoculars, stay quiet, and keep far from all of the elk-awesome action, should you encounter a herd. The National Park Service has all the Elk Watching Tips on its Point Reyes page, and visitors would be wise to follow them and give the tule elk wide berth.

THESE AMAZING ANIMALS... "virtually disappeared" around 1860, but they've been on the comeback over several decades, with over 440 elk counted in 2009 (the count was taken at Tomales Point). Admiring them from afar, learning about their lives, and thrilling to their late-summer-into-fall bugling is something many Californians do. But do check travel advisories before heading out anywhere in the summer or autumn of 2020. Shelter-in-place restrictions and possible visitor center closures should be taken into consideration before planning any adventures in the months ahead.

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