Friday, March 5, 2010

Kissed by Bull Elk Number 6-Yellowstone National Park

Bull Elk#6 was a celebrity in the Mammoth area of Yellowstone. (He has an orange tag in his left ear with the #6 on it) During the rut he spent his time herding his harem of cows around the Mammoth Hot Springs townsite, challenging other bulls and any humans who dared venture nearby. He was famous for charging automobiles and goring holes in them. In the fall of 2008, the unofficial count was 54 cars and pickups gored by #6.

Over the years, Yellowstone Park Staff tried many ways to keep #6 and the vehicles apart. They even sawed his antlers off a couple of times. They eventually settled on using rangers and volunteers to patrol the area and to keep the cars moving anytime #6 was nearby.

A year ago, #6 caught his front feet while jumping a fence in Gardiner, Montana, just outside of the park, and flipped onto his back between some big rocks and was unable to get himself free. I will miss him.

I had a kissing encounter with #6 a few years ago, when I stopped my pickup to let a herd of cow elk cross the road in Mammoth. I didn't see #6 coming along behind the cows until it was too late to start my truck and back up. He rushed to my open window and stuck his cold, wet nose and lips against my cheek. He couldn't get his horns into the window where he could damage me or my truck because of my camper over-hanging the pickup cab. He jumped back when I used my starter motor to start my truck and I got away from him. I had a wet spot on my cheek as I drove away.
I am sure that I am the only person ever to be kissed by #6 and survive. I smile everytime I think about it.

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