Jewell Wildlife Area Elk
Winter has certainly arrived in Oregon with a one-two punch of colder, wetter weather this month. That’s okay because winter time is the only time you can enjoy this “Grant’s Getaway.”
You’ll want to bundle up against the cold when you go aboard the Jewell Wildlife Area Hay Wagon to feed the herd of Roosevelt elk. On a recent December daybreak, cold and crisp and quiet conditions greeted the visitor across the 700-acre Jewell Meadows (this is one part of the expansive Jewell Wildlife Area,) but the otherwise silent morning came to life when the hay wagon came into view.
Despite the mercury holding steady at just seven degrees, the morning hay wagon shows up on and the 200 elk that live quickly respond. Refuge manager, Brian Swearingen says the morning feeding is a regular winter event across Jewell Meadows – the feeding keeps the elk here rather than foraging across nearby private agricultural lands.
We were on the western fringe of the refuge; an area where approximately 25 bull elk spend their time together. Brian noted that this group is referred to as the “Bachelor herd.” Some of the bulls in the Jewell herd are massive animals that tip the scales at more than 800 pounds – with antler spans of five or even six feet.
On this particular day, there was another sound on board the feeding wagon – as Dean Crouser’s camera made the tell-tale ‘click-click-click” of auto mode as he snapped shots with his digital camera that had a 200mm zoom lens attached to it. Crouser is a wildlife artist who searches for Oregon wildlife in “everyday moments” – the times that many of us take for granted.
This day marked his first wintertime trip to Jewell Wildlife Area and he was a bit like a kid in a candy store – so many photo opportunities were presented in front of him from the cozy confines of the feeding wagon – because the elk were feeding just 20 yards away.
Crouser travels across Oregon – often corner to corner – and his work reflects the adventure and inspiration and wild moments that he has seen.
Editor’s Note: Grant’s Getaways is a production of Travel Oregon brought to you in association with Oregon State Parks, Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife and Oregon State Marine Board. Episodes air Fridays and Saturdays on KGW Newschannel 8 and Saturdays on Northwest Cable News Network.
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.
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