The Call of the Wild (Why Wapiti Whistle)

Perhaps the two most haunting and memorable sounds you will ever hear in nature are the lonely call of a loon, and the eerie bugle of an elk, also known as the wapiti.

Late September in the Rocky the elk begin their mating period known as the “rut”.

Abraham, a nine-year old, dominant, 6-point bull elk, has been following his harem of about twenty cows, since late August.  He will continue to do so into early winter.

Just a few short months before, he was hanging out with the guys, wandering through the mountains and the higher elevations in the Park.

Now, here in Upper Beaver Meadows, standing 5 feet tall at the shoulder, and weighing over 1,000 lbs., he urgently paces back and forth, challenging rival bulls by bellowing and paralleling their every move.

Bugling can be heard for miles over the parkland valleys and meadows.

It has recently been discovered that male elk have signature characteristics in their calls that are entirely different from any other bull elk.  Each male puts his emphasis in a different section of his call, setting his voice apart from all the other elk.  Bugling helps males display their strength and prowess.

Being able to hit the high highs and the low lows with a lot of power seems to be a determining factor in the success of establishing an impressive harem of interested females.  The older, larger bulls have greater vocalization abilities than their younger competitors.  Only the largest bulls, the six-pointers can hit the highest highs and the lowest lows of their distinctive call.  The louder the bugle, and the more often the calls, the greater the draw.

Abraham has been training now for years for the top spot among his competitors.  Nostrils flaring, head forward, scent of elk urine emanating from his fur, he continues to protect and intimidate potential intruders by bugling and whistling, while the cows and their calves lazily graze nearby, seemingly calm and unconcerned.

It appears he has some competition, as a younger rival approaches from the south.  They begin to pace, shrewdly assessing each other’s arsenal of weapons – their antlers, size and weight, and strength and ability to do combat.  They also flaunt their vocal abilities, each trying to intimidate the other.

Were this male to continue to challenge Abraham, refusing to back down and walk away, they would engage in locking antlers pushing one another back and forth, possibly sustaining serious injuries.  Fortunately, more often than not, bulls prefer to have more bark than bite, since fighting can cause life-threatening injury and deplete much-needed energy.

Now, as the younger bull approaches, Abraham faces him head on, lowers his head and menacingly thrusts his antlers toward his challenger.  The rival turns at a 90 degree angle and skitters off just out of reach, then stops and looks back at the larger bull.  To be sure this younger male understands who the harem master is here, Abraham lowers his head and belts out a low, very hoarse and mighty warning, “You are NOT welcome here!”  The young bull attempts to counter with a less-than-impressive bugle.  It becomes evident that he cannot compete with the older, larger vocalist.  Abraham lowers his head again and the young competitor dejectedly wanders off, deciding to seek out a less intimidating opponent.

It looks like Abraham has won this battle of the bands, and insured the security and ownership of his harem once again… at least for today.



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A Home in the Sky

The Colorado Rocky Mountains.  A place of breath-taking beauty and rugged peaks of inspiration.  

Sometimes we just need a little inspiration to give us hope and new ideas, reduce stress, spark the imagination, and help us on our journey towards transformation.  We daily need a lift to help us rise above it all.

It’s a beautiful day here in the Rocky Mountain National Park and all is well.

Everyone needs to feel like they have a place they can call “home”.  It may not necessarily be your address, residence, or even where you spend most of your time.  Home is where you long to be – where you feel most secure and where your heart and spirit are both totally alive and awake, and at the same time – at peace.

It is a tried and true saying – “Home is where the heart is.”

In his immortal song “Rocky Mountain High”, John Denver sang of  “…coming home to a place he had never been before.”

The Rockies have an amazing way of doing that to you.  I remember after cresting the hill on Highway 36 heading into Estes Park and seeing the Rocky Mountains up close  and personal for the very first time with my family.  We couldn’t stop saying “Wow!”  Over and over again we kept saying “Wow!”  We even said it backwards.

I immediately felt a soul-connection with this gorgeous, amazingly grand place, and knew that I had come home.

Within its 415 square miles and and over 300 miles of hiking trails, RMNP is home to an abundant and vast array of diverse plants and wildlife.  Rocky is teeming with more than 280 species of birds – from hummingbirds to golden eagles, ptarmigan, magpies, woodpeckers, and brilliant mountain bluebirds.

It is also home to 60 species of mammals ~ herds of elk and mule deer, moose, beaver, badger, coyote, mountain lions, black bear, chipmunks, squirrels, marmots and bobcats.

There is something so sacred and unparalleled about the grandeur of the rugged mountains, pristine forests, lush meadows, tranquil lakes and streams here in Rocky.  A spirit in the wind that calls the heart home like no other place on Earth.  Maybe it’s because it’s a little closer to heaven than in the valley below.

If you get the chance, spend a week, a day, or even an hour restoring your soul in the Rocky Mountain National Park.  At it’s official birth as a national park in 1915, Enos Mills (and others), had the desire and vision for this wondrous land to be preserved and sustained as a haven of peace and repose ~ a place where all could come and feel at home.

He said  ~ “Go into the Parks and get their encouragement. Among the serene and steadfast scenes you will find the paths of peace and a repose that is sweeter than sleep. If you are dulled and dazed with the fever and the fret, or weary and worn,–tottering under burdens too heavy to bear,–go back to the old outdoor home. Here Nature will care for you as a mother for a child. In the mellow-lighted forest aisles, beneath the beautiful airy arches of limbs and leaves, with the lichen-tinted columns of gray and brown, with the tongueless eloquence of the bearded, veteran trees, amid the silence of centuries, you will come into your own.”

“Hear the winds calling you home to the Rockies so high

Follow your heart and you will find a home in the sky

Whispering stars light up the night

See them glow way up high

Follow us here and you will find a home in the sky

Blankets on the fields of sage and moonglow

Remind you that now you’ve come home

Shimmering leaves, aspen and elk

Here at home you will be

A beautiful place to come home to

A wondrous place to be

Blankets on the fields of sage and moonglow

Remind you that now you’ve come home

Hear the winds calling you home to the Rockies so high

Follow your heart and you will find a home in the sky” ~

[“A Home in the Sky” by Etta & Rick Starr, © 2010 -Starry Knight Productions/SkyDance Mountain]

If you listen to the silent wisdom of the mountain it will tell you what you need to know and you WILL find what you are looking for.


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Audio Book Sales Climb In Spite Of Competition : NPR

Audio Book Sales Climb In Spite Of Competition : NPR.

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Audiobook Format – Interview with Tim Hampton

If you are interested in learning more about self-publishing your own audiobook you may want to read Shelley Hitz’s interview with Tim Hampton.


Audiobook Format – Interview with Tim Hampton.

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