The siren call of autumn: The bugling elk of the Wichita Mountains

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WICHITA MOUNTAINS WILDLIFE REFUGE, Okla. - It may be Oklahoma's last, true call of the wild.

In September and early October, the bull elk of the Wichitas issue bold challenges and lonely calls across rocks and grassy meadows of the Refuge.

"You're scaring one animal off like the bulls, and you're attracting the females in to breed," said Refuge biologist Walt Munsterman.

Munsterman and biologist tech Steve Hodge went with us to monitor the herd.

This time of year, they can call them in close.

They easily trade siren call for a quick glimpse at wild nature.

Munsterman admits "It's not exactly like work when you're here doing things like we are today. I wouldn't give it up for nobody."

There were elk here before, before settlers hunted them out with the buffalo in the 1800s.

The animals were re-introduced to this age-old habitat.

One generation calls to the other across the ancient mountains.

Munsterman said "We can sit in one place like this and hear anywhere from 8 to 12 bulls of various sizes talking all around."

There are more bulls than cows this year, meaning heavy competition for males who posture and even fight on occasion.

The strongest bull gets the biggest harem.

The rest are left to roam across the breathtaking landscape bugling challenges, calling their lonely, wild song to anyone who cares to listen.

The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge offers elk bugling tours in September and October.

The last tour for 2017 is October 21.

The tours are popular, so check with the Refuge at or go to their page of Facebook at Bugling Elk Tours.

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