A “Special” Time of Year

It’s Saturday morning, in elk country on the last weekend in October. The air is crisp and trees are slowly shedding their golden leaves. Autumn can be a special time of year, but not for everyone. A week from today is opening day of elk (murdering) season. Since first light the peace of the morning has been desecrated by the repeated blasts of hunters, sighting-in their rifles—or warming up their itchy trigger fingers.

To say that hunters ruin it for the rest of us would be an understatement. Their noises, actions and attitudes not only irk those of us who enjoy living peacefully near wildlife habitat, they cause overwhelming stress to the animals who know they could be the next target.

When I hike through the forest, I try to use the same routes, respectfully leaving unexplored certain areas where deer and elk are likely to be bedded. The hunter’s outlook is just the opposite, purposely tromping through every corner of the woods in hopes of scaring up any animal who might call it their home.

During the fall, elk should be bugling loudly, competing with other bulls and rounding up their harems.  Meanwhile, the cow elk try to stay out of harm’s way as much as possible, yet feel reproductive stirrings of their own.

All are distracted enough already. The last thing they need right now is a bunch of Elmers out trying to “harvest” their flesh—or their head to mount on the wall to boost their fragile Fuddly egos.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

13 thoughts on “A “Special” Time of Year

  1. thank you very much Jim, your posts are always worth reading, even though my heart gets broken. A bunch of sick (legal) criminals destroy life on this Planet, like a cancer…and being a cancer they should be removed before it’s too late

  2. Jim,
    Pardon my ignorance but those are Elk in your photos? I have never seen them before. So beautiful.

    BTW, yesterday at dusk, I happened to look out my front windows and saw two deer walking down my street. That is the first time since I moved to this town (South of Boston) that I have ever seen deer. The were meandering down the road and then turned and walked up my neighbors front lawn and went behind their house. I just couldn’t believe it. The area of town I live in, is very residential — the houses are close together as we are close to town. I didn’t think deer lived this close to where there is so much activity.

    • You must go to Wyoming. They are everywhere, especially all around Jackson Hole. Hearing them in the Fall is a never to be forgotten experience.
      As for those who kill any of these beauties, their Karma will meet them one day.

      • I totally agree with you. Elk bugles are iconic, true calls of the wild, at once haunting, beautiful and yet bittersweet … because of the very thing Jim describes in this piece. The first time I heard the bugles and witnessed the activity of the rut, was also the first time I witnessed the cruel and prolonged killing of an elk adjacent to a residential neighborhood in Estes Park, Colorado. Although I was a vegetarian for a long time, and opposed to the violence of hunting and trapping I’d seen in my life, it wasn’t until I witnessed the brutality of that crime, against this beautiful being, that the opposition became so visceral as to be life altering. It was the slow death of a bull elk that solidified my disdain — an elk I’d watched for an hour, playing, bugling, interacting with his herd, who then met with a poorly-placed arrow across the fence from a suburban development where the elk are known to traipse through every night. It was entrapment — on the last day of elk season for a guy who wanted to fill their tag. When we finally found the fallen elk, he was still alive and surrounded by guys smoking, chatting on cell phones, with a five-year-old boy alongside, watching the spectacle. It is clearly only the general secrecy of hunting activity, undertaken out of view, that keeps these acts of violence from having much greater public opposition.

    • Jim, I know I’m rehashing the tale, so thank you for indulging that. It was during rifle season but crossbows are permitted during rifle season in Colorado. It appeared the elk was shot first with the bow, then with a rifle (that’s how we knew — we heard it before we saw it). We saw the crossbow bolt in what appeared to be a gut shot. I don’t know where the elk was shot the second time with the rifle, but clearly not in a manner that allowed him to die quickly. He kept trying to get up as they stood, watched, smoked and chatted on their phones. To add insult to injury, the hunter and the landowner saluted us — along with shit-faced grins — though they understood full well the effect of their cruel power play.

      I always maintain that the worst part about intervening in or witnessing animal cruelty is in the realization of how awful the humans are in their behavior toward the animal as he cries out for and deserves mercy. And then, no mercy whatsoever is shown. It’s the ultimate in sadism, isn’t it? To inflict your power at will over beings you know have no recourse and no verbal way to reach your ignorant and dulled mind. It’s like the woman who happily claimed that “oh yeah, I drove by that bird, flapping on the road an hour ago” — after she saw is trying to rescue a mortally injured crow from the road. It’s the realization of that degree human callousness that magnifies the emotion over the act itself.

      • Yes, it’s the ultimate in sadism, Ingrid. “To inflict your power at will over beings you know have no recourse” is the equivalent of what FBI profilers call “power-reassurance” or “power-assertive” crimes–clearly motivated to boost the perpetrator’s self sagging or overblown sense of self esteem.

  3. What a horrific experience for you.
    I am so sorry for the pain it caused you and of course for the innocent animals.
    Just from what we have seen here in Florida, it seems that those who do these hideous things, have an IQ lower than my shoe size, which is quite small~
    If there is a Hell, my wish is for all of these Hunters to fill it to the top.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s