By Bob Difley
When cruising the Oregon Coast with a westward focus to the scenic beaches and shorelines we sometimes miss attractions that lie to the east of the main coast highway. Such is the case with Dean Creek, a refuge for Roosevelt elk, a few miles east of Reedsport on Highway 38, that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) maintains along with other pastures along the highway.
A meadow alongside the road is home to 60 to 100 of these massive elk, usually easily visible from the highway all year-round at some point on the refuge. It might take a little searching with binoculars, but at other times they are close enough to be viewed without a lens.
Park completely off the two-lane road, it is used by log trucks as well as by local traffic. However, there are two viewing areas with ample parking and turn-around space for motorhomes and trailers where interpretive information offers an insight into the life of the elk both past and present.
Once vast herds of elk roamed the Pacific Northwest, but because of their size and the encroachment of civilization, they are now limited to remote forest areas or specific reserves.
Lucky for us that the reserves have been set up within viewing distance, as it is difficult to stroll up to an elk in the woods and ask him/her to pose for a photograph.
Fall is an especially active time for the elk as they are in the rut and the dominant bull elk frantically round up all the females they can find into their own private harem. Once accomplished they cannot just stand idly by and enjoy their female companionship, but must constantly fend off the amorous intentions of the lesser dominant elk that try to lure the enticing young females away from the herd.
Remember that they are wild animals. Do not try to get too close when taking pictures, or you too may wind up a member of the harem.
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