Sunday, January 11, 2009

Wapiti in the Elkhorns

The Native American word "wapiti" means literally "white rump". We saw over a hundred wapiti this weekend at the foot of the Elkhorn mountains near Baker City.

A horse drawn wagon takes you to a feeding area where the elk are supplied with hay to help them winter.

Calves born last spring, enduring their first winter, cows carrying next spring's calves inside them, and bull elk displaying massive racks all congregate here.

There's nothing like coming across elk in the wild. Two times stick out in my own memory. One summer, years ago, my dad and I were on horseback up on Jim White Ridge near the Minam River when we came upon a herd of elk grazing. Because we were on horses, the elk seemed not to mind our approach and we were able to get pretty close to them. More recently, about three years back, Beth and I took the kids for a walk out on Cricket Flats in late autumn. We happened upon a herd in an aspen grove which began to move as soon as it sensed our presence. I remember being mindful of their size and their number and how the sound of elk breaking through brush was a reminder to not make the mistake of being in the way of wherever they might choose to go.

This weekend's experience, by contrast, was pretty tame. Nevertheless, it's kind of cool to be able to get close to them.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wasn't that fun!? We sure enjoyed it when we were there. The lady gave a great talk, too. Erin

8:20 AM  

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