“BB” on the Move
As the sun began to set over the Four Peaks Wilderness area I wolfed down a great steak that was served up from the Arizona Deer Association. They had sponsored a work project in unit 23 called the Twin Buttes catchment. The labor had certainly kept me busy and I really did not feel like doing anything but relaxing after that, but I had my commitment to “BB” to meet him on the west side of the Picture Mountain area. I borrowed a truck (Okay, maybe commandeered is a better term) and headed out to meet up with “BB”.
The climb out of the desert up into the Ponderosa pines takes a while and that road never seems to get any better. Bouncing along in the Dodge Ram truck I had pilfered I felt like every joint in my body was going to come unglued. As I did one last turn into the pines, there stood “BB”, munching along with a couple of other bachelor bulls. The other two bulls headed for cover, but “BB” just kept on grazing. I parked the truck and walked over to chat with my old friend. “Greetings “BB”, how’ve you been?” He raised up his head to answer and I was absolutely stunned to see his newly sprouting antlers. “BB” had somehow started growing antlers so fast that he had over 24 inches of main beam already sprouting and all kinds of tines coming in at all different angles. For lack of a better term it looked like a huge nest of velvet. “BB”” shrugged his massive shoulders and said, “I could be better boy, looks like there will be wars soon and I am heading out of here!” It took a moment for me to gather my thoughts. “Uh, what’re you talkin’ about “BB”. What wars and where you headed?” “BB” gave me that disgusted look of his and said “Has your pea brain turned to mush now? We’re near the end of time! Doomsday is coming and I will not be in this unit when the dust settles. I aim to be in the high country west of the Beeline come spring. I got kin up in that Flagstaff area that sent me a tine-net message and they claim there’s more than enough forage food for me to join them. I plan on doing enough night hikes to be there in another month.”
I started doing the math and figured “BB” would have to do about 8 miles per night to get even close to the Flagstaff area in 30 days. “Okay “BB”, just what the heck are you talkin’ about? What “Doomsday”? What do you mean “End of Time”? Reign yourself in for just a second and bring me up to speed.” “BB” snorted and said ,“ Looks like the Feds are gonna declare Arizona as “Suitable” habitat for those Mexican wolves. It appears that you and your buds are gonna draw a line in the dirt called the Beeline. Rumor has it that the Beeline will be no-man’s-land and I want out of here. I’m darn tired of all these yahoos doing wolf calls at night trying to get wolves to answer. I’m up to my antlers with all the damn Birkenstock crowd selling all those little school kids weird stories about how wolves are so damn cute! You ever see what they do to a little calf? Last year some of my ladies lost their calves to a wolf pack runnin’ around on the White Mountain Reservation. I could have had at least four little bulls tagging along with their cute mommies that are now just bones bleachin’ in the sun! I want to be in an area that does not have wolves!” “BB” I said, “I can give you some awesome directions to a spot where there are no wolves and there probably won’t be during the rest of your and my lives.” Old “BB”s eyes just about bugged out of his head. “Tell me now boy! Tell me now and I’m headed there.”
I did some quick calculations in my head, figured out how I could pull it off and started whispering in his ear,“How do you like Tequila big boy?” To say “BB” looked puzzled would not even cover it. “You talkin’ about me livin’ in a bar?” “Nope” I said. “I have a solution for you that is absolutely awesome. How long will it take you to convince about 15 cow elk to join you in a little trip?” “BB” pondered for all of at least a minute. “Well, I think that I could convince Sally, Betty, Trish and some of her friends to come along. Can they bring some of their calves too?” I nodded my agreement that as long as it did not get above 15 elk we were good. “BB” did not know it, but we were about to embark on one heck of an adventure.
I told him to round up his harem and meet me back in an hour. I raced halfway down to the desert floor and screeched to a halt when I found what I had passed along the way up. The Arizona Game & Fish Department had a trailer that they had left to haul materials for the work project. It was a covered trailer and was all beat up, but would haul a whole lot of something. I feverishly hooked up the trailer to the Dodge Ram and headed back up the hill. I found “BB” with his lady friends waiting nervously at our spot. They almost took off at the noise I was making and they were not too sure about me. “BB” comforted them quite nicely. “Oh ladies, I promised you a good time, but we need to get in this contraption to make it work.” Some of the cows started to object with squeals and chirps, but “BB” broke into elk talk and grunted them into submission. Slowly they filed into the trailer and when I closed the gate, “BB” gave me a look and muttered, “This better work boy!”
For the next four hours, I raced along highways punching Don McDowell’s rig to the limits. Finally, I came closer to our destination. I pulled over and started pouring over maps. There were some dirt roads that made sense and I knew that there would be very few people proceeding in our direction. I punched the accelerator and within minutes I had crossed that magic line. From 3:00 am until 6:00 am I pushed for the high country. Finally I found a spot that seemed to make sense. We were close to a mountain range and there was water readily available. I hopped out of the cab and ran around to the trailer and popped the gates. The elk all came tumbling out mewing, chirping and some were grumbling. “BB” was the last out of the trailer and was covered in dust. “Okay boy, where the hell are we?” I gave him a wide grin and tossed a sombrero on to his velvet nest. “Welcome to Mexico “BB”. You are now in a country that does not have Mexican gray wolves and I guarantee that you won’t have to worry about the envirolitigants from now until your final days. I wish I could have a picture of the look on “BB”s face. He opened his mouth a few times and then closed it again. Each time he seemed to have a comment he closed his mouth. Finally he broke out with a long braying laugh. “If that don’t beat all! I can start my own herd here. I’ve got my ladies, good water and those mountains sure do appeal to me.” Then he got all serious on me. “What happens when people start seeing me? What happens when I can’t control myself come fall and I start bugling?” I busted out laughing. “Oh “BB”, this is perfect! Someone will come down here and try and take a few pictures. You will be claimed as the long lost descendants of the Merriam elk. Your happy butt will be studied, protected and probably worshipped. You will be the absolute king of the world down here. By the time you are old enough to lay down forever there will be stories written about this magical bull that came from nowhere. This is awesome!” “BB” mulled over the words I had spoken for a few moments. He gazed at the mountains that lay before him and all his cute lady friends. With a big wink he whispered, “Don’t sound half bad boy! I can truly be king of these here mountains. You got any other suggestions?” I looked the area over and pulled him off to the side. “Here is my final tip big boy. Stay away from any plants that you don’t know. Don’t eat them, don’t trample them, don’t do a damn thing with them. Steer clear of any banditos and stay way clear of any farms. You do that and you’ll be fine.”
The cows had taken long drinks and were starting to mew to “BB”. He drew himself up to his best posture, stuck out his chest and did a long thunderous bugle. “Stop that damn bugling” I whispered. “You need to get your butt into those hills and do it quick”. “BB” started pushing his herd of ladies into the hills. He took one long last look at me over his shoulder, his classic butterscotch butt starkly showing against all the green. With a nod and a grunt, he disappeared into the hillside. I was exhausted but happy and climbed back into the cab of the truck. The ride home would be long and I had a lot of explaining to do, but I felt vindicated and happy for “BB”.
Sometime later I felt someone tapping me on my shoulder. It was nighttime in Unit 23. I had fallen asleep after the dinner in the front seat of the Prius and had slept almost 6 hours. As I realized it had all been a dream, I was almost sorry that someone had awakened me. The planning, irony and joy I had felt was all a dream. Poor “BB” was still embroiled in the politics of wolves and elk and I felt that we humans who love elk had provided no solutions or safety. Sometimes dreams are all we have.