i live in n.e. oregon. it is cold here, and it has been cold for some time, and it has snowed quite a bit so far this winter. this has driven the elk from the higher elevations down into the foothills almost to the plains of our little valley, where they can better forage and seek refuge from the wolves. ravenous critters that they are.
as a consequence i have been spending quite a bit of time putting around in my little s-10 blazer in the low range of the 4wd transfer case, watching elk and even spotting two wolves the last week or so. all of this not more than 5 or 6 miles from my little back porch where this is written. that being as the crow flies.
i have just returned from a little sojourn, and through the binoculars i spotted in the neighborhood of 350 to 400 elk or so. all of this from county roads, some of which are graded and relatively clear, and one of which i simply had to turn around or get stuck in the snow. one of the places they are bedded down is at the head of a little dry creek bed, in a small stubble field. there are easily 200 elk in the field, arrayed along a shallow ridge from the top to the bottom. they can essay the entire area from there, and any predators who approach have to do so across snow covered fields, and are easily spotted. a healthy well fed elk is difficult to leg down when he has a head start, and is heading downhill.
this i know from personal experience, having failed in many attempts to do so.
at any rate, i went up this little track that is not maintained until i had to turn around, but this was high enough that i got in behind and above where the elk were bedded in the stubble field. i parked, and brought the binoculars to bear: i simply followed the ridge the knoll was connected to on back up into the higher foothills, toward the mountains, and spotted a bunch of large bulls, away from the main body of cows and immature bulls. they were about a mile away from the main body of elk, lying in the sun, probably chewing their cuds. they are ruminants, taking on large amounts of forage, which they regurgitate and chew thoroughly to further break down plant fibers in aid of digestion. (i once shot a cow elk on an "orchard cull," in which orchardists are given permits, issued by game commissions, to kill elk that get onto their property to strip fruit buds from the trees, devastating the coming year's crops. her paunch, which you may regard as a stomach of sorts, was a two foot in diameter sphere completely packed full of apple buds ... i cannot tell you how many tons of apples those buds represented, had they grown to mature apples. yes, it was exactly like shooting a cow in a pasture.) elk can eat buds & twigs on new growth on trees of a fairly substantial diameter, and will cheerfully do so in winter when favored foods are unavailable
the bulls were 8 in number, 6 of whom i could tell were branch antlered. two were heavily bodied, plainly large animals even at that distance, one of which had a spread on his antler beams about two asses wide, and extending a fair ways over his shoulders. and, then pay dirt. about two hundred yards down the ridge from them were two really large bodied branch antlered bulls, that i could tell were heavily tined, though i could not resolve the image well enough to count the tips. (hey, swarovski's are swarovski's, and my binoculars are japanese knock offs and not swarovski's. well, that is life.) i don't know how to explain this, but a big bull elk moves with a weight, a gravitas, a sense of importance and dominance that lessor bulls simply cannot carry off: think of the effect of lebron james walking into your average single's bar. i have heard some women use the phrase "big swinging dicks" to describe the impact of such men in a crowd, and so it is with big bull elk, except the description of sexual vigor and dominance applies to the antlers, and not the penis.
again, such is life.
i watched the bulls feed for a bit, and lie down for a bit, and get up to feed some more. the "smaller bulls" did not attempt to impose their presence or company on the big fellas, but, kept a respectful presence.
i came down the hill, and home. 17.5 miles in 4wd, in a circle, watching for elk and deer, which i saw aplenty, but, no wolves this date. (another story.)
[i have not been writing here, because i find watching elk more interesting that posting at the blog. and, until trump takes office and the real fireworks start, i find all this public posturing by the demo's to be tiresome in the extreme, and productive of absolutely nothing. they are in for a real shock when they find that their power does not lie in elective office, and if to be wielded at all, will be in the universities where gullible children reside, and in the bureaucracies where idiots, pederasts and communists hang out. in short, "power" to the democrats is limited to "faith in the future," which has never worked very well for them historically speaking .... e.g., gullible children grow up, for the most part ...., and in obstructing trump's exercise of power. hey, you read it here first. be the first to ignore this fundamental insight.]
as i was traveling along i had a random thought or two, which is not uncommon coming down an unimproved snow covered road at 3 and 1/2 miles an hour in low gear low range. my thoughts turned to all the fussing and fulminating the democratic party has done, trying to mount some sort of meaningful opposition to donald trump's take over of the executive branch of the american government. (a sort of unholy trinity of executive, legislative and judicial which is a horrible form of government .... but, just the best. imho.)
the democrats have pissed and moaned, and snotted themselves, and cried tears sufficient to dehydrate themselves. all to very little avail.
and, chuck schumer, u.s. senator from new york, seems to be in the forefront of all of this. and, the thought that passed through my mind, sort of in a gestalt moment of insight, is that if the democrats are to be led by chuch schumer in all of this, well, they are in for some rough sledding and some major disappointment. during the waning days of the election hillary clinton could not draw a crowd to a dog fight, nor to a hanging, i suspect. and, most of the time she had chuck schumer in tow. standing there. like a lump. chuck schumer does not have the presence of a really big bull elk, just not in the "big swinging dick" category, it seems to me. (this, of course, coming from an obscure country boy in n.e. oregon who does not count in the "big dick" category, either. as noted, such is life.)
which is pretty understandable, because, well, he is something of a lump. his niece, amy schumer is also pretty lumpy, literally, and "earns" her living as a comedian. it is good someone thinks she is funny, because she would quickly go broke in these parts, but if she is any indication of the quantum of enthusiasm and appeal that is the schumers, then chuck is in real big trouble as a rouser of the democratic rabble.
and, i suppose it follows, that the democrats are in real big trouble.
be kind, donald trump, be kind. let the little bulls browse where they can, but don't shy from giving them a poke in the butt with a full compliment of antler tines, if they get too obstreperous: they are just trying to impress the cute little cows. such is life.
i just cannot take the sight of grown people crying, and snotting themselves.
john jay @ 01.15.2017