In my post I've Waited 11 Years I wrote about how it took 11 years for me to see elk up close on our very own property. I'd seen them running across our driveway road up ahead and I'd seen them from a distance but I'd always wanted to see them walk right past the house. Sometimes I'd even wake up in the middle of the night hearing a funny noise and wonder if just maybe I was meant to get up and look out the window because my elk would be there. After that amazing experience of watching a cow elk drinking from our water trough literally right below our window my next big desire was to see a bull close to the house.
Well, I got my wish. It was a couple weeks after my really fun sighting of a bull elk just 30 feet off the highway. I was waiting for a visiting friend to call me from a couple miles away so I could direct her back in to our place. It was October so the elk were bugling every night. I'd had a few conversations with them from time to time, doing my personal rendition of a female elk call. Before my friend called I thought I'd water my plants on the front porch. Upon opening the front door I heard a loud bugle of a bull elk. I thought, "Wow, he sounds close." So I called to him. Immediately he called back. Usually they wait a bit to respond. Not this guy. He called instantly. I waited, playing coy, and called again. Immediately he bugled back.
"Wow! He sounds REALLY close." I took a look from the front porch back behind the house. I could see his legs through the trees! I kept up my calling and very soon I could see his head and long antlers bobbing up and down as he grazed on the grasses. He was only about 40 feet from the back of the house, another 35 feet to me.
He nonchalantly grazed, stopping now and then to bugle. He was with some of his ladies making their way from the woods, where they spent the day bedded down, out to the meadows for their night time grazing. He was getting closer. I was so excited. I began to think, "What if he sees me and gets mad that I'm an impostor?" Bulls can be pretty ornery when disappointed during their rut, or breeding season. I also began to think about my friend who was due to call me at any second. I didn't want my phone ringing while I was outside.
So I snuck back inside and managed to shut the door silently. I went right to the dining room window at the back of the house and got a great look at him. It was so awesome! He grazed and sauntered just 20 feet from the window. A great big bull! I got to watch him for several minutes before my cell phone rang. When it did he stopped and looked toward the house. I whispered to my friend what I was watching. The bull began to angle away from the house and move on with a little more determination. I let go of the marvelous experience with him and focused on directing my Alaska friend down our dirt roads and to the house. When I opened the door and heard her car crunching on the gravel I went out back and waited for her to drive in.
I knew the elk was still pretty close, out beyond the opposite corner of the house and walking farther away, but I didn't want to scare him into running full speed away. I wanted to see if I could get him to bugle for my friend. When she pulled in we greeted each other and I tried not to instinctively whisper. This was, after all, a reunion and a first ever visit and it warranted expression of the enthusiasm we both felt. Again I tried to let go Mr. Bull and enjoy the greetings I exchanged with my friend. But as soon as the initial ones were complete, I told her I wanted to try to get him to bugle for her. I did my call, wondering how far away he would be and if he'd be onto me and ignore it. Bam! Immediately he bugled loudly! Apparently he'd moved on quickly past the house and then resumed his relaxed grazing. I was so glad she got to hear him. "Do it again!" she said. I did. And he did! IT WAS SO FUN, again! And even better than the last time!
If you've never heard an elk bugle, check out this incredible YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=794wEIbHlDc) of a BBC story about the yearly elk invasion of Estes Park, Colorado.