An Elk Sounds Off, and a Season Begins

Rode and Audrey Hagen of Jackson Hole, Wyo., share a SoundClip with us. It's the sound of an elk bugle, an eerie sound that is a sure sign of autumn, when the animals enter rutting season.

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

A new environment brings new sounds. That means new signals of seasonal change. That was the case for a woman who married into a family with roots in the West. They sent us this for our collection of sound clips.

AUDREY HAGEN: I'm Audrey Hagen.

RODE HAGEN: I'm Rode Hagen.

HAGEN: And we live in Jackson Hole Wyoming. When I moved to Jackson Hole about twenty years ago and first heard an elk bugle, all of a sudden the fall was defined by the sound of an elk instead of the color of an elm tree.

HAGEN: It does define change of season.

HAGEN: It's the most eerie - it fills your entire body when an elk bugles. And I never heard anything like that before in my life.

(SOUNDBITE OF ELK BUGLE)

HAGEN: It felt like the forest was haunted. It's this, the sound fills your whole body, and it's this eerie, almost guttural noise.

(SOUNDBITE OF ELK BUGLE)

HAGEN: To me, it almost reminds me of Tibetan throat singing. The way the different sounds that the elk can produce out of their throats and their apparatus for making sound is phenomenal. It's very singing, it is very much like singing.

(SOUNDBITE OF ELK BUGLE)

HAGEN: When you learn that the bull elk doesn't eat for weeks and spends every waking moment collecting these cows and making sure that they're with him and he's in protection mode, it adds this whole new dimension to what that sound means.

(SOUNDBITE OF ELK BUGLE)

HAGEN: Fall never really lasts that long color-wise in the mountain West. But the elk seem to bugle well into fall and into winter so that's always kind of that ghostly disappearance of summer into fall into winter.

(SOUNDBITE OF ELK BUGLE)

NORRIS: Rode and Audrey Hagen of Jackson Hole Wyoming. We'd like to hear about the interesting sounds in your life. Find out how to participate at NPR.org. Search for the word SoundClips.

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