Tuesday, May 1, 2018


It seems like boredom and curiosity are the reason for most of my adventures. A question of whether or not a stream near my house held fish was put on hold as winter held everything in a deep freeze, but a warm day before run-off was an opportunity to get an answer. Atley agreed to go with, mainly to ride our new 4-wheeler, and we headed out. The short ride was less than Atley was hoping for, but that's why the stream holds so much appeal. It would only take a couple of minutes to get there and chase some fish. As I had figured it would be, the bottom of the small canyon was very thick with a mix of pine, willows and cottonwood that crowded any likely fish holding spot. We worked our way up through the obstructions looking for the best place to try our luck and find an answer. Anywhere that the water was deep enough to change color seemed to hold a fish or two, even if they were very small. No fish came to hand but a couple were spotted. Hoping for the photographic proof of their existence we pressed on, despite the streamside vegetation getting thicker. At one point the stream seemed impassable and we had to go out and around, when we came back in sight of the water I realized that something was dead in the water and Atley got excited when he spotted the elk's antlers. A mature bull had died in the water, how we couldn't guess. A quick pic and we decided to call it a day. once we found our way out of the creek bottom I messaged an old neighbor friend of mine that works for the DNR. He let me know that we could get together later in the week so I could show him our find and he could see if an investigation into the animal's death was needed.

Once my friend showed up in his side-by-side we headed to where the elk was, making quick work of the thick stream bottom because we weren't trying to catch fish. Once we scanned the surrounding area for any predator tracks (just out of curiosity) we tried to pull the bull out of the water. Nothing makes you appreciate how big elk truly are like trying to move them, especially when they're waterlogged. We managed to get the body partially out and Preston started looking for evidence with a metal detector. Not finding any, we rolled the bull over and checked for any holes in the cape and underlying rib cage (the bottom side had been somewhat preserved in the water). Further investigation turned up no evidence of foul play, so he offered me the animal's head to mount. 

When we got the head removed from the rest of the carcass it became evident that carrying it out while trying to not let it get any rotten smell on me was going to be a challenge. There's no knowing how a bull feels hauling antlers around on his head, but it's hard just to try and get them through trees for the short time I carried them. 

After we got it back to the house and got the necessary paperwork done I set about getting as much of the rotten hide and meat off the skull as I could. The head then went into a tub of water with a good dousing of dish soap to soak for the night. Del and I ran back up the hill to set a trail-cam by the carcass hoping to see what came in to feed on the remains.

This was the first elk that I've done a euro-mount on, so I was a bit surprised at how long it took the to get boing and how much "stuff" was in there to try and get out. A couple of days worth of boiling and working the skull over with a screwdriver and pliers got it clean. The only thing left to do is bleach the skull and hang it up. Then maybe I'll go back and try to catch some of those fish up in the canyon.

Hope you're as lucky,

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