Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hunters Work Together to Rescue New Mexico Elk

Bull elk near Chama, New Mexico
There’s just something magnetic about a muddy, stinky wallow for elk—especially for bulls. They seem to revel in wallowing in mud. Why do they do it? Well, to coat themselves with stench-laden “perfume” in order to attract cows and intimidate other bulls. Unfortunately, wallows can be death traps. We almost saw that during Idaho’s 2013 bow season when two young hunters saved a calf from such a mucky fate.

A similar scenario played out this past summer in extreme north-central New Mexico just south of the Colorado-New Mexico border. Donald Carrillo and his fellow ranch hands rescued two bull elk and one cow from a deep wallow. Carrillo was not there for the first rescue but he described the second. 

“What we did was put a slip knot around his horn,” he said. “We could get the truck down there so we hooked the rope up to the winch and pulled him out and cut the rope when he got out. Then he took off.”

Carrillo said the cow had a little tougher go of it. When they found her he said it looked like she had been there for a few days because birds had “tried to peck her eyes out.” They feared they might break her neck if they put a rope around it. Since she was up to her neck in mud it was a real dilemma. They had several different ideas. They all failed until the final one.

“I got a long stick and pushed down the rope in the mud. Then I went behind her with the stick and pushed her and we somehow got the rope around her and her front leg. We hooked it up to the ball of the truck and I pulled her out. Well, the guys helped her get out.”

To make sure this would not be a reoccurring scenario, the ranch decided to build an 8-foot fence around the wallow. 

“Being a hunter is not always about killing game. Sometimes, you have to help out,” added Carrillo.

Thank you Donald! Kudos go out to you and your fellow ranch hands!

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