Geographical Index > United States > Colorado > El Paso County > Report # 6164
Submitted by witness on Saturday, April 12, 2003.
Hunter's elk calls ellicit vocal responses from multiple animals
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DATE: 2nd week
COUNTY: El Paso County
LOCATION DETAILS: Between balanced rock rd and Mt Herman rd aprox 1/4 mile east of rampart range rd.
NEAREST TOWN: woodland park
NEAREST ROAD: between Mt herman rd and fr322
OBSERVED: Last year during archery season my 12year old son and I were elk hunting off Rampart Range road between forest rd 322 and Mt Herman rd and herd strange noises. I am an avid archery hunter and have hunted all typs of animals all my life and what we herd that night still sends shivers down my spine. I do alot of calling for myself and friends for elk so I am familiar with alot of noises in the woods, we had seen elk in the aera the week prior to this incident. We drove in to the end of a trail off 322 and parked the car it was getting late and having my son with me I decided to just go to the end of the trail that overlooked 3 beaver ponds and try calling. We got to where we could see the ponds and sat down to wait a few minutes and listen for bugling elk. After hearing nothing for a few minutes I decided to call, when I bugeled from the ridge opposit us we herd what seemed like part elk, part cat, whining, but it sounded like there was 20 or 30 animals on the ridge across from us all making this moening/whining type noise. It lasted about 15 seconds. I wasent sure what I had just heard so I bugeled again we heard the same noise again. I didn't recignize the noise and the hair on the back of my neck was standing up so I decided to leave. I also heard water splashing, it was getting dark and I looked all over the beaver pond through binos and could see nothing moving so we left. There is very few animal noises in the forrest that I do not recignize much less make me nervous but those noises we heard that night I will never forget.
OTHER WITNESSES: 2 myself and my 12 year old son, hunting
TIME AND CONDITIONS: right befor dark, Clear dark evening, no wind,
ENVIRONMENT: Beaver ponds, steep ridges on both sides, thick forrest.
A & G References: T11s R68w sec29, S1/2 SE1/4, 6th meridian
Follow-up investigation report:
Both witnesses were interviewed separately. Statements made by each consistently support those of the other. The men impressed me as having had exactly the same experience, without any apparent variation which is often introduced by differences in interpretation or memory.
Near dusk, the 2 hunters situated themselves under a pine tree to see across the valley, with only the edge of the ponds obscured from view -the furthest pond 200-300 yards away. The ground is rocky with trees and a vegetated understory. Nearer to the ponds it is moist, muddy, and marshy.
It was an hour before dark -later in the day than they usually go in to hunt. After a half hour of silence, the father bugled for elk for the first time with no response. An experienced and successful elk caller and archery hunter, he bugled a second time 10 minutes later. This time "it sounded like a whole section of that ridge lit up with vocalization", he said -the vocalization of multiple animals, of considerable volume, and the sound was of no animal known to these witnesses.
They estimated that if you could single out 1 animal's call, it would last 15-30 seconds -longer than an elk bugle, in his opinion- and sounding like a howl/whine. "It would start with 1 or 2 then they'd all get excited like when dogs howl together. There was a distinct excitedness to it. It sounded like they would start to imitate elk and then just howl like a wolf howl." It reached higher octaves and volume than he believes any human could.
"A lot of times," he explained, "when you cut elk off [by bugling] they'll get louder and more obnoxious, so I cut them off [third bugle]. I came back at 'em, but it didn't get more loud, and didn't change, it just did the same vocalization....so about every 2 minutes I'd bugle again to try to get 'em to do it. We went back and forth for about 10-15 minutes."
By then it was very near dark. He opted to quit because he'd decided it wasn't an elk and they weren't "thrilled with the idea" of whatever it was coming to see them. The animals responsible for the sounds seemed to stay stationary, not approaching the hunters. But they heard water moving and saw ripples on a pond, originating from the obscured part of their view. The father looked at his son and said, "We need to go right now and right this second." "I don't scare easily," he said,"but the hair on the back of my neck standing up bothered me more than anything because instinctively I was like 'what is this?' " Both had rifles and were only about 100 yards from their vehicle, "but we still walked back to the car at a very good pace."
The father considers himself an expert at knowing local forest sounds, though he admits he has never heard cat. This is unremarkable to this investigator. "...I know they whine and howl," he concedes," but not that loud or that long, and not in response to elk calling." His son said HE has heard cat but ruled it out due to the high volume alone.
When pressed for an estimate of the number of individual animals heard "absolutely, positively for sure," erring on the extremely conservative side, he said there were at least 4 overlapping voices. He explained, "you may hear A cow or A bull, or a cow or 2 talking if they're real comfortable, but this was the whole ridge!"
During our conversation, he used the phrase "It sounds like 100 elk bugling at the same time," and quoting from his report, "...it sounded like there was 20 or 30 animals on that ridge." In the light of these descriptions, it seems there was quite a chaotic cacophony.
The following day, the elder witness went to the ridge from which the sounds had emanated. He saw no elk tracks, no fresh elk droppings or that of any animal, and no other tracks. He recalls, "it was real dry that year and the elk were scarce due to the drought" whereas hunting in that area is usually good.
On the map below, the hunters' location is represented by a yellow square and the ridge of vocalizations by a red line. The distance between the two is approximately 740 feet (.14 miles.)
This event is separated by only 4 years and 10 miles from Report #880 -a Class A sighting at the FR 348 quartz mine.