Elkhorn Wildlife Area
It may be dead of winter, but if you know where to look in Eastern Oregon, life is in full swing – the wildlife that is. This week, we visit snow country near Baker City where you can go along for the ride and help feed hundreds of elk at Oregon’s Elkhorn Wildlife Area.
Winter rules the distant Elkhorn Mountains where the ice floes stack streamside and snow drifts line roadways and a sea of white spans the horizon. It is bone-chilling cold that shows little sign of thawing!
But at Anthony Creek in Baker County, a Saturday morning warming fire chases the 20-degree chill away before you step aboard T&T Wildlife Tours. It is the only horse drawn wildlife tour in Oregon…and Jed and Waylen, a pair of Percheron draft horses, are the heavy pullers.
Each weekend, all of the partners pitch in to feed the elk that make Anthony Creek a winter home from mid-December thru February; they will spread up to a dozen alfalfa bales to feed 150 elk. T&T Wildlife Tours is an asset to Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife Department that maintain nine other feeding stations across the 12,000 acres that make up the Elkhorn Wildlife Area.
The Elkhorn winter feeding program started in 1971 and today the feeding crew keeps 1200 hungry elk up in the forest rather than down on nearby ranch lands that are scattered across the valley floor.
Most of the Elkhorn Wildlife Area is closed to the public in winter – except Anthony Creek, so it’s a rare and wonderful learning opportunity. An open viewing area allows you a chance to see the herd anytime or bring the family and spend a few bucks to see Oregon’s largest game animal – up close.
About the Author: Grant McOmie
Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.