Thursday, May 1, 2008

Warriors!



Fog shrouds the forest; a white blanket of frozen water vapor covers everything including me. Ahead of me, a bull elk lets forth a bugle, the sound almost prehistoric coming from the dense fog. The bull is not far from me but the fog conceals him from view. I answer with a cow call and move silently forward, immediately the enraged bull answers from within the thick soup of now swirling fog. I see the tip of an antler as he emerges from the mist. At less than ten yards, the bull seems to be part of the white surroundings. His body is covered with a crystalline white as he ghosts to my right. He stops, scenting the air for any sign of danger. The wind is still in my favor but the fog quickly engulfs him again. For the next hour we move through this alien world calling to each other and using the white mist as cover. Finally, the fog begins to burn off as the sun breaks through. Within minutes the world is bathed in bright light reflecting off millions of tiny frozen particles which cover the high country. Somehow, I have wandered into the center of a huge mountain meadow, two small pine trees are my only cover and I am surrounded by a large herd of elk. Near the edge of the meadow, the majestic bull stands, sunlight gleaming off his antlers. Several cows and calves are feeding throughout the meadow and another bull is coming through the tall grasses toward the herd bull’s harem. With a loud challenging bugle the bulls square off fifty yards from me. The old patriarch bellows a warning at the intruder and gouges his huge antlers into the earth, sending grass and dirt through the air. The younger bull answers with a bugle of his own and lowers his head for the attack. With a clash of antler and muscle the two rivals begin to battle. Their shoulder muscles strain as they try to push each other off balance, antlers clack loudly as they slam into each other. Both bulls are prime specimens, weighing in at near eight hundred pounds and sporting heavy beamed, long tined antlers. The older bull has been in countless battles and holds the experience card. The younger bull has the bravado and endurance of youth as they battle for the right to breed the receptive cows in the herd. The battle only lasts for a few minutes, and comes to an abrupt halt when the mountain winds suddenly switch, carrying my scent to the herd, elk bark a warning and retreat to the heavy timber. I stand alone in the meadow the rich scent of elk all that remains of the scene that played out before me. I walk to the spot where the battle took place and I lay my hands upon the torn up earth, hoping to feel the power of the antlered warriors still upon the earth. A bugle echoes deep in the forest announcing a new challenge from a new rival for the old warrior, he will no doubt answer the challenge and stand proud in the face of his adversary, and maybe tomorrow I will get the chance to harvest an elk on this hunt. Maybe the elk will detect me and my arrows will remain flightless, no matter the outcome the hunt will be good, the prey worthy the mountains peaceful. I am humbled, honored and proud to have witnessed the battle between the two warriors and will not soon forget our encounter… Hawk. A/ho

8 comments:

Mike "Hawk" Huston said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stacey Huston said...

Beautiful story Mike, Is that one of the antlers that I found??(wink)

huntertrapper said...

them bulls are some powerful beings... cant wait to see them in person someday.

fishing guy said...

Hawk: What a great encounter to have seen. Your writing is an inspiration to those of us who are privilege to partake in it's stirring moments.

Sandy said...

As always, your words take me right there. Powerful post.

sky said...

Namaste' Hawk~ wow, I have never had anything like that happen in my life around me, but I know it would be absolutely exhilerating, I was like vibrating reading your words hahahaha.

NICE music too love this first song that comes up, it's a GREAT one.

Hope this goes through I tried posting twice on staceys, and both times it looked to be something wrong, and it did not let me know it posted

RainforestRobin said...

Oh gosh Hawk, I just wrote a long comment here and I have no idea if you received it. I think I may have deleted it by mistake. BUMMER! Well, I'll check back and see if you got it and if not I'll write it again. Such beautiful feelings you express. I am profoundly moved...as always.

RainforestRobin said...

This is a beautiful post. I once saw a couple of moose in northern Maine battling it out. But not for such a long period of time. They were just reaching the exhausted end of there battle.

The part I loved most about this whole story was about the fog. Where you say: "For the next hour we moved through this alien world calling to each other using the white mist as cover." I saw this in my mind. You and the elk disappearing and reappearing in wisps of fog, like shape shifters....like a dance. Until you, the elk and the mist become one.

In the spring I used to take my canoe out to a dead water in far northern Maine and I would see as many as eight moose in a evening, all feeding. Some were solid massive muscle. If I kept my paddle in the water and basically ruddered it quietly somewhat behind my back and moved directly toward them they couldn't tell that I was getting closer (only if I moved side on - then they could tell). I was often able to move within one or two paddle lengths. I had to be careful that I didn't startle them. If they panic they can step right into a canoe.

I often drove out on the more remote dirt roads and in the spring they would be walking along the side of the road. I'd stop the vehicle and talk them over to the open window. I had a couple that stuck their heads right inside and traded breath with me. And they are SOOOOOOO HUGE!!!

Thank you for sparking these memories for me. It remains a poignant time and place.