The Hundredth Meridian

Elk Country

As the supernatural world is eternally at work behind events in the natural world, so the world of man-in-nature continues to operate behind the synthetic, abstracted, and unreal world of man-outside-of-nature. For that reason alone, I shall always hunt elk. (Though of course, I really don't need any reason.)

On the afternoon before the start of season, I rode past the busy hunting camps along Fontenelle Creek, among them Kovaches' 25-man Army tent guyed in a stand of tall aspen. Ten or 12 years ago, when I was still learning the country, I had hunted with John and Jim Kovach, riding the mountains all day on sheepherders' horses borrowed from the Taliaferro ranch and returning at night to John's elk-heart stews cooked with milk, potatoes, and sliced onions. Since that time, all but one of the Koyach brothers has moved out of the area, John to Flagstaff, Arizona, where he nearly lost his life when a chainsaw kicked back on him, splintering his rib cage and cutting up his heart like a jigsaw puzzle. Now, alone save for the mare beneath me, I forded the creek at the crossing and ascended the West Bear Trap trail in the smoky light of a dying October afternoon to make camp under the red steeps of Indian Ridge, within a stand of limber pine at 9,080 feet. As we approached the site, the mare unprompted stepped from the trail, walked between the trees to the fire ring I had built years before, and halted with her nose against...

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