The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge will be conducting “Bugling Elk” tours for the general public during September and October (see tour schedule for exact dates). The tours will take participants into the Refuge’s Special Use Area during the height of the elk mating season, thus, offering a unique opportunity for wildlife viewing.
At this time of year the bull elk compete for available females to form their harems. To vent their feelings of frustration and aggression, the bull elk produces a high-pitched whistling sound. Tour participants have the opportunity to hear the bugling and to search for elk in their natural habitat. Other species of wildlife such as bison, white-tailed deer, and wild turkey are not uncommon during the tour although weather conditions make wildlife viewing opportunities unpredictable.
The tours are conducted by members of the Association of Friends of the Wichitas. Binoculars are highly recommended for viewing distant wildlife. The tour bus is accessible to persons with limited mobility. Wheelchair lift and tie-downs are available upon request.
The tours will begin at the Visitor Center. Visitors may obtain a Refuge leaflet from one of the dispensers located at each of the five entrances. The Visitor Center location is noted on the leaflet map.
Bugling Elk Tours will depart promptly at the indicated time. Each tour will last approximately 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Due to the length of the tour, children must be at least eight years of age to participate. Reservations will be retained until ten minutes prior to the beginning of each tour. After that time, stand-bys will be accepted. If the bus seating capacity is filled after accepting standbys, late arrivals with reservations will not be able to participate in the tour.
Interested persons are advised that the Refuge’s public programs are intended for individuals and family units. Interested individuals are invited to call for reservations which are taken on a first-come, first-served basis. This tour is one of the most popular, so it is suggested that interested individuals call on the first day that reservations open. Reservations are required and may be made by telephoning the Visitor Center at (580) 429-2197 between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.