Searing For Hill Country Elk

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September 6, 2022

In last week’s article, we discussed the history of elk in East Texas and put the word out for photos and accounts of elk in that region.

This week we’re looking at elk in the Hill Country.

A study by Richardson B. Gill, Christopher Gill, Reeda Peel, and Javier Vasquez gives a deep look at Texas elk history, including in the Panhandle and Hill Country.

The earliest recorded sighting of elk in Texas occurred in 1601 according to the authors. The Spanish governor of New Mexico, don Juan de Oñate, embarked on an exploration of lands to the northeast of Santa Fe.

“This river [the Canadian] is thickly covered on all sides with these cattle [bison] and with another not less wonderful, consisting of deer which are as large as large horses. They travel in droves of two and three hundred and their deformity causes one to wonder whether they are deer or some other animal.”

Translation: Elk.

In 1759, Captain Juan Angel de Oyarzún reported elk near Menard.

“This watering place was recognized as that of the buros (what they called elk at the time) for the many it maintains. This species resembles deer, although its body and antlers are larger. As a rule they are, when grown, like a medium-sized horse, and the antlers ordinarily attain the height of two varas [1.7 meters (m) or 5.5 feet (ft)]. For this reason the Comanche Indians use them to make bows for their arrows.”

There are what seem to be increasing reports of elk in parts of the Texas Hill Country. These are obviously escaped animals from high-fenced hunting ranches. But there seems to be a small breeding population near Rock Springs.

Do you have photos or accounts of elk in this region? If so message [email protected]. We would love to share them in our next story.

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