By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
BELMONT — Bo Gilbert has 33 elk roaming the fields at his game farm off from Shaker Road. He said one of the best parts of the day for him is the early morning feeding time when the elk see his pickup truck approaching the gate on South Road and they all run down the field toward him.
Gilbert brings them bread, bagels and other baked goods that he picks up at a discount outlet on Route 106. He is content to sit for an hour or more in his pickup truck watching the animals.
"They're fun to watch. I like the proud way they carry themselves with their head held high," he said.
A retired masonry contractor who is now 84 years old, and four months ago underwent a triple heart bypass operation, Gilbert said he grew up as a hunter of white-tailed deer and has always had a keen interest in wildlife.
"I've hunted in Colorado and Montana, but I always liked it better here," said Gilbert.
At one time, the farm raised only deer and was known as Bo Gilbert's Wildlife Outpost and Gilbert allowed hunters to take deer from his fields.
But that has long since changed.
"It's a hobby now. I raise them for fun," said Gilbert, who has raised deer for 30 years and in the last 15 or so years has turned the big field where his game farm is located over to the elk herd. He continues to keep white-tailed deer in another enclosed area on his property, but said they're no longer natives of the area.
"The deer are actually a New Zealand breed and I get them in Canada," says Gilbert, who adds that chronic wasting syndrome has been a problem for many native New Hampshire deer.
He said elk meat tastes even better than venison and there is a strong demand for it. When he harvests the elk, he takes them to Dave Albert in Bristol for processing.
Mature males grow to over 700 pounds, with most females around 500 pounds.
"They're big and strong and the males can be pretty dangerous," he said. "I have a friend who got gored by one of them and it took 41 stitches to fix him up."
A few months ago, he harvested six of the older bulls at the farm.
"They were getting mean and fighting a lot so it was their time to go," he said.
Gilbert is proud of the healthy condition of his herd.
"They look good and you don't see any ribs," he said. "A lot of people stop by with their children just to watch them out in the field and I like that."
Several of the cows are now showing signs of being pregnant and he expects that there will be as many as eight calves born this spring between the middle of May and the June 1.
One of those helping him with his daily feeding runs is Ted Woodward, who also helps Gilbert out in the summer by keeping his seven tractors, which are used for haying, in running condition.
"The elk like the hay but they really seem to thrive with the bread in their diet. I guess the grain is good for them and keeps them healthy," said Gilbert.
An elk at Bo Gilbert's game farm in Belmont takes a bagel from Ted Woodward 's mouth at feeding time. Gilbert has 33 elk living at the game farm which is located between South Road and Shaker Road. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)
Elk at Bo Gilbert's game farm in Belmont which is located between South Road and Shaker Road. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)
84-year-old Bo Gilbert of Belmont watches elk at his game farm, which is located between South Road and Shaker Road and is home to 33 elk. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)
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