By Bob Fala
Heavily antlered “bull” elk literally bugle to ward off lesser males and herd up their harems of females or “cows” during the annual fall mating ritual. Nestled smack dab in between this sweet music emanating from Kentucky’s gargantuan herds and now Virginia’s blossoming bulls sits the silent hills of you guessed it, the coalfields of southwestern West Virginia. So just when are things going to get a little louder on this side of the Tug Fork River?
In an effort to get some of that four-legged marching band bugling on the Hatfield side of the Famous Feud duo going, the Rocky Mountain Elk Federation (RMEF) is stepping up and literally coming to town.
The dynamic efforts of RMEF in the Bluegrass State of Kentucky can now boast a herd approaching 15,000 head in less than 20 years effort! That’s more elk than any state east of the Mississippi and more than all the other eastern elk states combined, of which there are a boat load, other than the Mountain State of course.
Elk viewing tourism alone on the McCoy side of the equation is akin to the Hatfield-McCoy ATV Trails on the West Virginia side of the Tug. What’s more, hunting permits to the tune of nearly a thousand per annum are being issued in Kentucky. Virginia will likely have their own limited hunts within a few more years. The Old Dominion has recently completed its stockings from Kentucky transplants over the past two years.
There is no reason that Kentucky wouldn’t help to fill that elk-less, geographic void in between by shipping a few of their surplus over this way. Though a few satellite bulls from the Kentucky side, likely looking for love, have teased the folks from West Virginia per their ghost-like appearances, RMEF’s Regional Director Bill Carman may have just the right remedy.
“We need to get some cows over here.” That should do the trick to keep some bulls occupied. WVDNR’s “passive” approach of waiting for the regal beasts to populate on their own has not borne fruit. In the recent past, Kentucky has limited out-of-state transplants to 50 head per year. So we had better get in line or another state will get ahead of us and delay the matter even further.
Carman has worked tirelessly in West Virginia and has become a familiar face at varying events including the Hunt Show in Charleston and the Hunting and Fishing Expo at Logan. His group has pledged some $300 thousand dollars to bolster the restoration efforts here. All they need is the green light of commitment from the WVDNR.
To help raise that kind of money, the Elk Foundation is hosting a Big Game Banquet here Saturday July 12 at the Chief Logan Conference Center. All are welcome for the spanking new “Hatfield-McCoy Elk Country Chapter’s” first event. Tickets are available online at www.rmef.org then scroll to upcoming events. Locally, tickets can be purchased from Committee Chairs: Diana Barnette. at 304-688-3710 or Steven Ratz at 304-725 7841.
To catch up on the latest elk skinny or make a little music of your own to help kick-start elk restoration, this would be a good place to start.