“The elk stood together. The forest around them was covered in a thick blanket of snow. One doe stood away from the rest of the herd. Her coat was wet from the snow collecting on her back. The breath of the elk gave the area the illusion of smoke rising. The crack of a branch sent all ears facing the old oak that had given up one of its limbs.”
The elk stood together. The forest around them was covered in a thick blanket of snow. One doe stood away from the rest of the herd. Her coat was wet from the snow collecting on her back. The breath of the elk gave the area the illusion of smoke rising. The crack of a branch sent all ears facing the old oak that had given up one of its limbs. Its branch lay. The oldest doe turned her head and walked out towards the river.
The rest of the herd followed the eldest does, then their fawns, then the young bulls. Most of the elk were starved, only the fawns of the matriarchs had full stomachs. The elk trudged through the three foot snow banks. The elk were two miles from the river. At the river, the snow was not as deep, and the herd could easily get to the grass that laid in waiting. For thirty minutes, the elk moved in the powder snow, moving their heads at the smallest sound of a bird singing or a chipmunk running up the tree.
When the herd had finally reached the river, they rushed to the bank, drinking. The cold wind blew across the water, creating ripples that splashed the thirsty, till they could no more. Most of the elk had slipped away, into the dense brush surrounding the river bank. Three of the herd members stood, watching over the thicket that the group laid in. It was late November, and many packs of wolves were prowling the area to feed pregnant females.
The sun had set on the cold land, and the elk huddled together in the snow. As the snow storm got stronger, and the night got darker, the sound of the forest, breaking, scared the animals. In the morning, the forest was quiet. Nothing moved. The elk herd made their way back to the area where they had bedded down the night before. The elk sniffed around the area for anything interesting. The scent of death hung in the air. The group looked to see one of their own, dead, lying on the ground. Frozen in place. The blank eyes stared towards the river. A young fawn, only about five months old. The herd, unable to understand what had happened, moved on. All moved on, except the elks’ mother who hung back. She would later die too, most likely from wolves.
The cold wind kept blowing, and the elk were forced to move to a warmer area. The town of Bozeman seemed the only place. As the herd moved on, the wind and snow picked up. They walked toward the town, but stopped at the edge of a cul-de-sac. The people, who lived there, went out of their warm houses to view the beautiful creatures. As the sun set on the town, the lights of the shops came on, and people started to move about. The elk, scared from the movement, moved farther out of town. The herd stopped, at the edge of a golf course, and settled in for the night.
The herd woke, with a start, as gunshots fired. They turned and ran as a man, in a golf cart, came at them, holding a rifle. He yelled at them, and they pounded the ground, sprinting to the town. They ran, oblivious to the the highway in front of them. The sound of metal on fur stopped the animals dead in their tracks. They looked at the road to see a young bull, lying on the side of the road. They continued to move to the plains.
The snow kept coming, and the winter was long and hard. Death was always an enemy, hanging there, waiting for the weak or the sick to come to its gates. As the white turned to green, the mood of the forest and plains grew happier. The Spring and Summer was the best time for the elk. Babies were being born, and the air was sweet with the singing of birds. As the months moved on by, the herd grew with every passing day.
As the sun set on the beautiful day, the elk settled in for the night. They sat under the brush and saw the light fade away. The old cow stood alone in the green grass.