Back in the late 80's when they were actively striping on Winslow Hill, on the hill across from the first big viewing area, they had some sediment ponds. In preparation for backfilling they drained one of the ponds to where it just had a small pool of water in the middle. It was deep mud out to the water and a big bull got stuck in it. He was in mud up over his legs and about half way up his body. I don't know how long he had been there but he was wore down to where he had no chance of getting out on his own though he was still strong enough to keep his head up out of the water.
Rawley Cogan, the Elk Biologist met me there to try to get him out. We were afraid to tranquilize him for a couple reasons but the most pressing was we couldn't get out to him without getting as bogged down as he was and we knew he would drown if we couldn't get to him and then hold his head up out of the water until we figured out how to get him out of the mud and water.
We finally decided to see if we could get the coal company, which had dozers a half mile away, to bring a dozer over and push dirt out through the sediment pond until we could get out to the elk. They agreed and while they were bringing the dozer Rawley when and got some heavy rope. Once we had the dirt pushed out to the elk I crawled out with the rope and crawled right over top of the elk's back, worrying the whole time he would throw his head back and hook me with an antler. I stayed as close to his head as possible so if he did throw his head back he wasn't as likely to hit me with his antlers while I worked the rope down the far side of him until I could reach down the near side of him and get a grip on the rope. I then pulled the end up the near side until I had the elk inside the two ends. By that time there were a half dozen men there. We all got a hold on both ends of the rope and pulled that big bull out onto the dirt they had pushed out to him. With both ends of the rope loose we just had to then hang onto one end to get the rope free from him.
He laid on the ground for probably ten minutes before he even tried to get up but once he had his legs under him he walked off and eventually into the woods.
That was the first time, but not the last time I was on the back of a live elk. Elk are large powerful animals and there is certainly a serious risk of getting injured or even kill when working with them without tranquilizing them. In fact I think one of my closest brushes with serious injury or death on the job came from an elk, even though we had him tranquilized. But that is a different story for perhaps another time.
Last edited by R. S. B.; 02-06-2019 at 03:51 PM.