Now you see ‘em…
Telephones were ringing up and down the bayfront here in Oysterville yesterday morning – an impromptu telephone tree spreading the word.
“Elk herd on the move!” was the message that neighbors were passing along the line.
“They’re moving northward,” we were told. “Not very fast. Walking. Keep your eyes peeled.”
We made a few phone calls, too, and then we waited and watched. Elk walking back and forth along the bayshore is a relatively new phenomenon, at least as far as I’m aware. But for the last few years, they seem to pass by every six months or so.
We’ve been told that they are the “Leadbetter Herd” and that they mostly hang out up by the Point. We’ve also been told that they’re the same herd (or maybe part of the herd) that we used to see regularly on the dike road at the head of the bay and that they’ve moved over to the peninsula for reasons known only to themselves.
I put my jacket and boots near the door so that when they appeared I’d be ready to bundle up and try to get close enough for a picture. The last time they came by, I was nervous about approaching them. Elk are big – of the deer family, they are second in size only to moose. And, I have seen those elk run. Fast! I took the coward’s way out and relied on the zoom on my digital camera. The results weren’t great! So this time I thought I’d try to be braver.
Time ticked by and no elk. Considering they are the biggest creatures on the peninsula, they are certainly elusive. I thought about Lewis and Clark. When they were hunkered down at Dismal Nitch and Station Camp there wasn’t an elk to be seen. So they gave it up and spent the winter on the other side of the river where the herds weren’t as shy.
Fortunately, we weren’t depending upon elk steaks for dinner. When an hour had passed, we decided that perhaps the herd was lingering in one of the meadows south of us, just out of sight. Maybe having breakfast. Just after nine, we took the car and headed for the post office for the mail and then we drove around for awhile. Surely those elk would show up against the remnants of snow everywhere.
We crept south and then we doubled back and went out Stackpole Road for awhile. Not an elk in sight. Maybe it was slim pickings along the bay and they knew of a more promising patch elsewhere. Or perhaps they had a sixth sense that my camera was at the ready…