Friday, January 07, 2022

Ernie the Elk

Today I went on my first "real" bicycle ride in a couple weeks.  (20+ miles.  I've been going on short jaunts around the neighborhood snow... but today I saw pavement, and busted out the skinny-tired bike.  Since I mention bicycles - a significant slice of my daily-life pie, I prolly should post this on my Bike Nazi blog, instead.)

I bicycled out Boise Avenue, over the Eckert Road bridge, and then back in over on the Harris Ranch / Warm Springs side of the river.

The sea of rooftops is ever-encroaching on what was once wide open spaces.  Breaks my heart.  There really was a ranch out there, back in the day.  I've been a visitor to that valley since my early childhood... and have been bicycling out there for 30+ years.  The Harris family ran cattle for part of the year.  In addition to the cows, I've seen lots of birds and deer, the occasional muskrat or mink or raccoon or skunk or coyote... and Ernie the Elk.

Does anybody else remember Ernie?  He was a unique critter, and I feel fortunate to have observed him on numerous occasions.  His brother and sister elk would show up down there in the river bottoms, mostly in the winter I believe, when foraging got difficult up in the high country.  Ernie sometimes roamed with the herd... and sometimes he just decided he'd hang out with the cows for a week... or a month... or all summer long.  It didn't seem to bother the cows.

I can't say for sure how many years he was a fixture out there... but at least two or three.

And then one year, during elk season, Ernie got harvested.  I 'spect maybe some hunter has Ernie - or at least his antlers - proudly displayed.  It's hard to fault the hunter; I'm sure Ernie was just another face in the crowd when he ran with his own kind.  (I'm pretty sure he was taken when he was away from his bovine friends.)  I miss Ernie.

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