Last night, I fled from an animal for the first time since I've been here. It was raining shortly before 8:00 and I was headed to the local talent show (for the most part, the less said about that the better). I had my cap on and head down because of the rain. When I glanced up, I saw the four people ahead of me hurrying toward the rear door of the hotel--I thought they were trying to get out of the rain.
When they got out of my line of sight, I saw a bull elk running straight at me. I had a brief impression that he had a red banner tangled in his antlers before I turned to run for cover. I made it a few steps before realizing I wasn't going to get anywhere in time and looked back to see which direction the elk was coming. I veered to the left as he veered to the right and zoomed past me about twenty feet away.
Moments later a ranger in a truck came in hot pursuit as we frantically pointed in the direction the elk had gone. Looking that way, I saw that the elk had made it across the grassy boulevard between dorm and post office where many nights the three ring circus of elk, tourist, and ranger put on their performance. Only the rain and absence of elk avoided the magnificent chaos which would have ensued on a night like tonight. (I confess that my major interest in elk now is waiting to see if one is going to make a much deserved charge at a tourist--we look out our windows and root them on.)
Here are some examples of eyewitness reliability. I thought I saw a red banner--that turned out to be an orange traffic cone. Depending on who you talked to that cone was either in the elk's mouth or on his antlers. Some said those antlers were broken, some said the elk was bleeding, others said neither.
This evening my roommate went into town and on the way saw an elk by the river with an orange traffic cone on the ground beside him.
Later a young coyote trotted back and forth beneath my window, looking for a direction which wasn't blocked by tourists.
12 hours ago