Large Animals

Wildlife abounds and shares its home with the Shadow Creek Ranch community. With its diverse terrain and varying elevations and habitat the Ranch is a sanctuary for elk, mule deer, and bear. Even an occasional moose wanders through the Ranch to partake of the rich habitat.


SCIENTIFIC NAME: Cervus canadensis

DESCRIPTION:  Large deer, with slender legs, thick neck.  Brown or tan above, darker underparts. Rump patch and tail yellow-brown.  Bulls have dark brown mane on throat and huge,  spreading antlers:  six tines on each side when mature with main beam up to 5” long.  Cows lack antlers and are about 25% smaller than the males.  Height at shoulder 4½' to 5’; weight from 450lbs.  to 1,089 lbs.

HABITAT:  Chiefly high, open mountain pastures in summer; lower wooded slopes, often dense woods in winter. 

FYI: Shadow Creek Ranch provides critical habitat area for these majestic creatures. Several areas of the ranch have been set aside for calving and breeding and will be off-limits to human activity in the spring and fall. You are most likely to see elk early in the morning drinking around a pond or lake in the ranch pastures, or in the forests on the upper trails during the day. The resident elk herd varies in size from 100 – 200 animals. During migratory times as many as 500 can be seen on the Ranch. Elk are especially active at dusk and dawn. Usually seen in groups of 25 or more; both sexes together in winter; old bulls in separate groups in summer. Migrate up mountains in spring, down in fall; bulls shed their antlers in late February. They move through the forest rapidly and almost silently. They feed on many kinds of plants. Main predator is the mountain lion. In September, the eerie “bugling” of the bull elk can be heard in the aspen and spruce forests of the Ranch. This sound is the territorial challenge of the dominant bulls as they breed a “harem” of 10-30 cows.


SCIENTIFIC NAME: Odocoileus hemionus

DESCRIPTION: Stocky body with sturdy legs. In summer, reddish or yellowish brown above; in winter grayish above. Throat patch, rump patch, inside of ears, inside of legs are white; lower parts cream to tan. Large ears are 4¾" to 6” long. Buck's antlers branch equally, each a separate beam forking into two lines. Antlers spread to 3’. Males larger than females. Height at shoulder 3' to 3½’; weight ranges from 70 to 475 lbs. 

HABITAT: Forest edges, mountains and foothills of the Ranch. 

FYI: These deer have large ears that move independently of each other. Primarily active in mornings, evenings and on moonlit nights; may also be active at midday in the winter. Summer forage is usually herbaceous plants but also blackberry, huckleberry and thimbleberry. In the winter, they consume twigs of Douglas fir, cedar, aspen, willow, serviceberry, juniper and sage. Acorns and apples are also eaten. Deer in the Shadow Creek Ranch area migrate up and down seasonally to avoid heavy snows. They seldom form large herds with the usual group including a doe with her fawn (or twin fawns) and a pair of yearlings. Deer often “yard up” or herd in winter. Predators are man and coyotes. They are seen at dawn and dusk throughout the spring and fall drinking at lakes, ponds and streams. Close to 250 deer make Shadow Creek Ranch their home. Larger numbers occur during migration times in the spring and fall.



SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ursus americanus

DESCRIPTION: Black to cinnamon with white blaze on chest. Snout tan or grizzled. Males much larger than females. Height at shoulder to 3½’; weight to 550 lbs.

HABITAT: Forests and mountain woods. 

FYI: Most commonly sighted in the early morning. May be seen day or night ranging in a home area of 8 to 10 square miles. Its walk is clumsy, but it can burst up to 30 mph. A powerful swimmer, it also climbs trees either for protection or for food. Most of its diet includes vegetation. Small to medium mammals are also eaten. A good fisherman, the black bear will wade in streams and ponds for fish. It rips open bee trees to feast on honey. In the winter the bear adds a supply of fat, then holes up in a cave, crevice, hollow tree or log.