It was a big day for the Hardware Ranch Management Area Saturday. Hardware Ranch is located at the top of Blacksmith Fork Canyon, east of Hyrum. They had their third best outing, with 1,729 people in attendance over the weekend.
Some 1,500 were there during the annual Elk Festival on Saturday, said Brad Hunt. Hunt is the ranch manager at Hardware Ranch, part of the Utah Division of Wildlife Management Resources.
“We were very happy about the participation in this year’s Elk Festival,” Hunt said. “The big number makes the boys in Salt Lake happy.”
He said they had five wagons going. Four were part of Hardware Ranch’s inventory, and they borrowed another from the American West Heritage Center in Wellsville to shuttle participants close to the elk. The wagons held about 20 people, dressed in coats, hats and gloves. They were pulled by draft horses and driven by DWR staff.
Not all the visitors were from Cache Valley; people also came from Utah County, Salt Lake area, and Brigham City to attend the festival.
“We counted 350 elk in the meadow north of the visitor center for the wagons to ride through and see,” Hunt said. “People were fortunate we had snow that brought them down. Some years, when there is less snow, they don’t come into the meadow to be fed.”
“It’s kind of hit or miss. If we get snowfall, we get a better show for the elk,” he said.
This year, one of the activities was making an elk call.
“Everyone I talked to had a great time,” Hunt said.“The elk calls were a big hit and everybody seemed to have a positive experience with them.”
Besides the elk calls, there were a bunch of other activities which included archery, printmaking, a fur station, Christmas Tree ornament making, and backyard bird feeders, all of which kept the volunteers and 14 local and four regional employees busy.
A mountain man organization from Willard brought up clothing, hats and firearms to let people dress up and have photographs taken with cell phones and cameras.
“Now that the Elk Festival has concluded the visitor center, we will have our educational displays up,” Hunt said. They will have the fur animal station, a full body elk, turkey display and a video highlighting the Division of Wildlife Resource activities, as well as other timely activities.
“The Elk Festival was a great success this year, we look forward to next year,” Hunt said.
Hardware Ranch WMA is approximately 14,291 acres in size and is managed for wildlife and wildlife habitat. They raise 320 –400 tons of meadow grass hay and feed up to 600 Rocky Mountain elk in the winter annually.
Hunt also works with regional biologists to promote wildlife & habitat improvement, facilities maintenance and outreach/education opportunities.