Sweat was beading on my brow. I was gasping for breath. Running up hill, I needed my iPhone. Fifty yards away I had the spotting scope set up. Binos were around my neck, so was the camera.
A few hundred yards below were 300-400 head of elk. Cows and calves were mewing, the herd bull was grazing, bachelor bulls were cast to the side. It was a mess of elk. The sound and the smell was intoxicating. I was drunk.
I was scouting for deer, with no elk tag for the area, but at the end of the day I love elk. It didn’t matter that there was no chance I could hunt these animals. Being in their presence was enough to make me crazy.
The herd bull’s full grandeur came into focus through the spotting scope. A 7×6 mainframe with extra junk all over – a Little Mountain monster – everything one comes to expect from this storied Wyoming sanctuary of public lands. A kicker stuck straight up from the base of each first brow tine. Mass extended through the entire main beams. He was simply huge.
I was attempting to look everything over through the scope and binos, while shooting photos. My lens wasn’t long enough to do the scene justice. I didn’t have an adapter to put the camera on the scope. My brain could barely focus.
I thought maybe I could take an iPhone photo through the scope. Thus the sprint uphill, back to the truck. It didn’t work. It didn’t matter. The whole scene was breathtaking. Taking a deep breath would have been well advised.
Instead I ran in circles like a crazy person with optics hanging off of me like Christmas ornaments. In hindsight I don’t think I’d change a thing.
Steven Brutger is the Wyoming Energy Coordinator for Trout Unlimited. Little Mountain, home to some of the best big game hunting in WY along with populations of native Colorado River cutthroat trout is one of his project areas. This year Steven was lucky enough to draw one of the areas coveted deer tags. When not chasing big bucks he lives in Lander, WY with his wife two children and a couple of gun dogs. To learn more about TU’s work in the Little Mountain area http://new.tu.org/tu-projects/little-mountain.