Fishhawk Lake Thoughts-Elk Reserve Jewell Oregon

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Fishhawk Lake Thoughts Elk Reserve Jewell Oregon


The morning of December 16, 2008, it was 10 degrees outside, one of the coldest that winter. The call I received that morning meant being outside for several hours, but it was going to be worth it. A small group of us who are Fishhawk Lake residents, located inBirkenfeld Oregon got a last minute chance to be part of the daily feeding of big herds of wild elk at the Elk Reserve in Jewell Oregon, seventeen miles away. It entailed a hayride on the main highway for about a quarter of a mile, then into the reserve itself to throw out their rations of hay. While on the buckboard, we were going to have an up-close-and-personal view of these magnificent creatures and for those of us who love nature photography, it would be a momentous occasion.


Elk Reserve Jewell Oregon by Gayle Rich-Boxman


With the backdrop of snow-capped Saddle Mountain, crystal clear blue skies as well as the dappling of snow on the well-worn reserve grounds, it presented the PERFECT venue for some once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunities. The hardest part was staying warm enough to take off gloves, keep the fingers moving while aiming the camera, clicking AND staying steady during the bumpy ride!


Being one of those photographers who takes scads of photos (especially of my beloved Fishhawk Lake and surrounding areas), my hands were bare for quite some time. I hardly noticed until I got so cold that I couldn’t properly hold the camera because I was shivering too much. One of my Fishhawk Lake friends loaned me an extra down-filled oversized coat and once I donned that I was able to capture several more elk pictures before calling it a day.Elk Reserve Jewell Oregon by Gayle Rich-Boxman




We threw out several flakes of hay behind the wagon, while the elk slowly followed us or simply waited patiently while we distributed their supplemental feed. You can see up to 200 elk at a time on a good day of viewing!




Elk Feeding Elk Reserve Jewell Oregon by Gayle Rich-Boxman








Elk Reserve Jewell Oregon by Gayle Rich-BoxmanJewell Meadows Wildlife Area is under the auspices of The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. It is a yearly habitat for Roosevelt elk, who present an enormous personage up close and are the largest of the elk subspecies. The average adult female usually weighs between 550 and 650 pounds while adult males average slightly more at 750 pounds and can weigh as much as 1,200 pounds and they usually measure 8 feet in length, but some mature bull elk have been measured up to 10 feet.  The males shed antlers and grow them back in less than a year and these weigh 15 pounds each. Their life span is about 10-15 years in the wild.Roosevelt Elk Adult Bull by Gayle Rich-Boxman

(Notice the snow on his nose and the bit of hay caught on his left antler!)


Usually, when driving by this spacious refuge, about 45 minutes from Vernonia on Highway 202 on the way to Astoria, you will see people parked in the turn offs or two available parking lots with binoculars and cameras. The viewings are normally during winter months through the spring. I saw them this year in September!


A couple of reasons for supplemental feeding of these Roosevelt elk:


ODFW [Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife] feeding programs are designed to keep elk in areas where they can be viewed and enjoyed by the public. The feeding programs also help keep elk off adjacent private agricultural property where they could cause damage and aid in elk repopulation efforts. Elk from Jewell Meadows have been used in reintroduction and repopulation programs in the Cascade and Coast Ranges and as far away as Northern California and Alaska.



The name “Roosevelt” elk probably came from this:According to the Oxford English dictionary and a number of websites, the subspecies was named in honor of Theodore Roosevelt by Clinton Hart Merriam, who first identified it in the late 1890s. (

They had come close to extinction about 1912 and by 1922, they only numbered about 12. Roosevelt and his fellow hunters took the lead in conserving their habitat, thus helping their numbers rise.


 Roosevelt Elk Bull Gayle Rich-BoxmanIf you want to get the chance to do what we did and help feed these “Santa’s Reindeer-like” creatures here’s who to call beginning December 1st through February: (503)755-2264. Reserve your spot on the feed wagon, but bring warm clothes!


(This one made me feel like I was in Santa's Sleigh)




Comments (17)

Susan Emo
Sotheby's International Realty Canada - Brokerage - Kingston, ON
Kingston and the 1000 Islands Area

Spectacular shots - spectacular creatures.  They sure do look like reindeer!

Dec 07, 2011 08:23 AM
Ellie Penaranda
239.776.5077 Downing-Frye Realty - Naples, FL
Naples Florida Real Estate - Waterfront & Beach Co

Hi Gayle, Is it the lighting or is it a change of hair color I see in the new photo?  what an experience to be up and close with these beautiful creatures.  Down to 12! that would have been pretty much extinction.  You take wonderful photos and you spin a nice post.  Have a delightful Wednesday evening.

Dec 07, 2011 09:03 AM
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


Thanks for taking us on your early morning ride to feed the elks.  Your pictures are delightful, and we are so lucky that you shared them with us.  Have a great day and stay warm.  When I hear how cold it is in your neck of the woods, I am embarassed to be complaining about 30 degrees overnite.  LOL A

Dec 07, 2011 09:14 AM
Judith Parker
ProStead Realty - Charlotte, NC
CRS, GRI, CMRS, Charlotte, NC

Hi Gayle, what an incredible opportunity and the pictures are priceless.  What a beautiful animal.  Your Christmas photo is so sweet.  Thanks for sharing.

Dec 07, 2011 09:41 AM
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

I love that herd of critters Gayle. So cool that you got to be part of a "feed crew." It must have felt like true "winter's magic."  The photos are magnificent - as usual. Did our buddy Chris prompt your seasonal Profile Pic ? She did for me.  It's very cute. :)

Dec 07, 2011 09:42 AM
Jeanean Gendron
The Address Realty - Redding, CA
Specializing in Selling Unique Properties

Gayle, what an incredible oportunity. I am so happy for you. I am sorry it was so cold. Next time you will know better how to prepare. When we went over to Eureka a couple of months ago, we saw wild elk in 2 places and I so look forward to spending time in the parks and having that special time to capture them. We are putting our attention on a new lens to add to our ability to do this. How wonderful that you had such close proximity. The photos are just wonderful. Thank you for sharing your beautiful iifestyle with us all. It's what it is all about. You go girl! I love coming over just IS the best thing ever! Who cares about Holidays when you can do what you do. You rock!

Dec 07, 2011 10:54 AM
Charles Stallions
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services - Pensacola, FL
850-476-4494 - Pensacola, Pace or Gulf Breeze, Fl.

Wow Gayle, you have a knack for the eye these photos really show off the Elk and the surroundings as well, I know if I was buying in Fishhawk you would be the one to call.

Dec 07, 2011 11:00 AM
Michael Thornton
RadnorLake Video - Nashville, TN
Nashville Area - Photography & Videography

Good evening, Gayle. Really nice photos of the Elk. We do not have any in our area, the deer marauding through the neighborhoods is bad enough...

Dec 07, 2011 11:08 AM
Rose King
David Tracy Real Estate - Friendswood, TX
Friendswood / Pearland / Houston Bay Area

Hi Gayle! These photos are spectacular! What a wonderful opportunity! I can't believe it was just 10 degrees outside - no wonder you were freezing. I'm afraid I wouldn't last long at that temperature!

Dec 07, 2011 02:49 PM
Eric Crane -- Your Full Service, Discount Fee Realtor®
DPR Realty LLC - Gilbert, AZ
Greater Metro Phoenix Arizona

Hi, Gayle -- it looks like the Elk needed every bit of their coats on that day!  Funny that we here, in Arizona, think it has been a bit nippy recently by our standards.  yeah, right!  Have a great Holiday season, Eric

Dec 07, 2011 02:58 PM
Cindy Westfall
Premiere Property Group,LLC Portland Metro & Suburbs Oregon - Tualatin, OR
ABR,GRI Your Tualatin & Portland Metro Real Estate

Hi Gayle...well look at you! I was scrolling down my blog roll and had to take a double take! I have to say, these pictures are spectacular! You also tought me something. I've been here in the Portland area for 12 years now, and have never heard of Jewel (other than the singer) and this wildlife area as well as Saddle mountain. I need to get out more! :)))

Dec 07, 2011 04:02 PM
Kristine Ginsberg
Elite Staging and Redesign, LLC - Short Hills, NJ
NJ Home Stager

GF - your photos are always so gorgeous and I love any photos of animals! Elk are such beautiful animals and you've done an outstanding job of capturing them!  I hope you entered these the Christmas photo contest?!  BTW - I didn't even recognize you in your new Christmas profile photo - lol!

Dec 07, 2011 09:45 PM
Mimi Foster
Falcon Property Company - Colorado Springs, CO
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

Oh, Gayle of my heart, I have missed you!  What a great picture of you, and what absolutely wonderful pictures of the elk!  Let's touch base soon! 

Dec 08, 2011 12:07 AM
Debbie Walsh
Shahar Management - Middletown, NY
Hudson Valley NY Real Estate 845.283-3036

These pictures are just beautiful!  What a great opportunity Gayle - not too many have ever been able to have that experience.  How great for you!

Dec 11, 2011 03:41 AM
Debbie Walsh
Shahar Management - Middletown, NY
Hudson Valley NY Real Estate 845.283-3036


debra walsh real estate

Dec 11, 2011 03:42 AM
CA COASTAL ESTATES Lauren Selinsky Perez CRS
California Coastal Estates - Aliso Viejo, CA
"Your Real Estate Broker" #oclauren

Great PHOTOS! GAYLE! WOW! I am speechless! The Elk make Christmas! COMPLETE! ;)

Happy Holidays and much success in 2012! Trying to spread extra, holiday cheer for those that I met this past year and came by my blog! Truly, A Big Thank You~

Dec 11, 2011 06:39 PM
Kristin Hamilton CA REALTOR
Berkshire Hathaway California Realty - Beaumont, CA
(909) 557-6966- Specialize 55+ Communties Banning


 Spectacular animals and wonderful photographs. Great news that they have feeding programs to assist them and keep the herds large so that they do not become endangered as so many others have. Thanks for sharing and happy holidays.

Dec 16, 2011 10:14 PM