Monday, August 25, 2008

Number 6 Is in the House

We went away for the weekend to see Willie Nelson play in Red Lodge. It was a great show and included a trip across the Beartooth Mountains. When we came back on Saturday, the first report I received about life in Mammoth was that Number 6 was in town. Both Chris and Amanda immediately told me he was there.

Number 6 is a big-old bull elk. Huge. Six point. Massive. He towers over the female elk as he clusters them into harems. This elk has been thrashing trees by Lava Creek as he strips his antlers of velvet and goes ape with hormones. He is the elk of elk.

On Saturday I walked Kelci the dog down through Lower Mammoth. On the return journey we heard the characteristic high pitched bugle of a male elk. The first call this summer. Number 6 was in the house! We walked up to view 50 elk clustered around the Administration Building, about 6 buildings from my home. I dropped Kelci off and rushed to my house as the elk stampede began. The whole herd started migrating towards my house.

Mike and I stood watching them as we waited for Chris to pick us up to watch the Olympics. Finally, I called him and reported the elk status. "Can I still get to your house?" he asked worriedly. "If you come quickly," I responded. He made it just as Number 6 was walking, full rack, straight towards our houses.

We made it safely to watch the Olympics and on return to Mammoth, a thought of the elk mob flickered thorugh my head. The elk were everywhere around the Fort, laying seige to the buildings. Cows, calves, and Number Six were representing! And they were surrounding Kelci the dog's house! How was I to get in?

We drove to the back, where the elk lay 20 feet from the door. Chris drove me to the front, where the screen door was locked with no key. Finally, he took me back around the back, where the light of his headlights illuminated the massive frame and full rack of the bull standing 15 feet from the door. "Good lord, I am not letting you out of this car!" Chris exclaimed before driving to my house and letting me out there. But the dog! I thought.

All fussed out, I went inside, took a shower, and thought about my strategy to return to Kelci's house. What to do, oh, what to do? I heard No. 6 bugle, and it sounded like it was south of the houses. Could luck have turned my direction? Commando style, I crepted from the house and ran to my car, which I drove right to the front door of Kelci the dog's house. No Number 6. Phew! I quickly opened the house door and lept inside, safely avoiding the elk!

All night Number 6 bugled outside. I imagined he was singing, "Looking for some hot stuff, baby, this evening! Looking for some hot stuff, baby, tonight!"

The madness has begun.