Welcome to The AES Elk Tracks Blog. Here you will find latest news, stories and other information important to preserving our wildlife heritage.


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“BB’s” Holiday Gift List

BB's Holiday Gift List

While most folks were out doing their holiday shopping and partying through the end of the year, I had the dubious distinction of being summoned by my old friend “BB”. He had shown a great deal of creativity this time by sending a text message and signing off as “Santa’s big helper”. Braving some less than desirable weather, I pushed the Tundra through some slick roads and icy conditions to meet with the big guy. The last meeting had been in Forest Lakes, and this time he had roamed all the way to the southern limits of Pinetop, just before the White Mountain Apache lands begin. Meeting at 3:00 in the morning is not a great time for me and I had to consume vast quantities of Circle K special blend coffee to stay awake. I finally arrived at the appointed spot and climbed out of the truck. Continue reading

Is it Time to Stop the Madness?

Is it Time to Stop the Madness

“BB” contacted me through an old method this time. A letter stamped with his huge hoof print arrived early in September and he specified an exact location for us to meet. I was fairly surprised to note that we were once again meeting at the “Bugle Inn” restaurant in Forest Lakes. Our very first meeting back in 2005 was at this same location, but since his move to the Big Lake area, we had not been that close to the edge of the Rim. The night in question turned out to include an incredible downpour of rain and hail. I patiently drove the Tundra up the hill and pulled into the parking lot at Bugle’s around 4:00 am.

The owner had once again left the keys to the front door and I apparently was the first to arrive. I turned on one, single dim light and patiently awaited the arrival of my old friend. I have to admit, I was a bit tired from the long ride and the ugly rains, so I helped myself to a bottle of merlot and began thinking of all the times that “BB” and I had met and conversed. Before I could get too nostalgic, I heard a deep throated bugle along with a series of hoarse grunts that seemed to come from the parking lot. As if on cue, “BB” crashed through the front door. He was soaking wet, covered in mud and his eyes were bright red as if he was half in the bag. The drifting odor that followed him in gave me pause to smile. “BB” was in full rut and made no bones about it. “Well boy” he croaked, “how the hell are you?” I took a second to assess my wild friend. “Pungent” is a term that kind of gets across what I was thinking, but “reeking” was in actuality a more appropriate term. “BB” I said, “You have really outdone yourself this time. You smell marvelous, I’m sure every eligible cow from any unit would love to be part of your harem.” He broke into that deep throated chuckle of his and said, “Damn right boy, I’ve got 23 cows just on the dark side of road 200 yards up the hill. We have to keep this short since only half of them have been bred and the other half are getting close. A bull has to have his priorities you know, so get on with it.” It was my turn to laugh now. The image of several impatient cows tapping their hooves while he and I shared some time was just a bit over the top. “Aren’t you worried about some other bulls sneaking in while you and I chat?” “BB” gave me that sly grin of his and said, “When you’ve had the best, why settle for the rest?” With that he began that damn chuckle of his and it kept reverberating in the room. Continue reading

Evacuated “BB”

Evacuated BB

The Call from “BB” was supposed to be one of our normal conversations, setting a time and place for us to meet. As soon as I recognized his tInephone number on my cell phone, I answered and pulled off the road to chat. “BB” however was far from his normal self. “You damn humans have done it again haven’t you? Where the hell am I supposed to winter this year? Where are all the little fawns supposed to go now?” I was stunned at his outburst. “BB” I said, what on earth are you talking about?” “BB” calmed down for a brief moment and started explaining. “The whole damn forest is burning down. All I can see is smoke. The whole herd is making tracks for the far northwestern reaches between Show Low and Heber. I never wanted to go back there, but thanks to you humans and that damn bear, we are heading back that way.” I had heard that there was a fire that had started and they had named it the Wallow fire. At that time however, we had no idea that it had gone to epic proportions and that a lot of lives would be changed by the inferno. “BB” started explaining what was going on and I was stunned. News had not yet filtered down to the Valley that the Wallow fire had taken off, so I was getting first hoof information about the fire. To say “BB” was angry is an understatement. He railed against humans and how we mismanage things and then lit into the “bear” again. I tried calming him down and said “BB” what bear are you talking about? “BB grunted over the phone “That stupid Smokey the Bear! All he ever says is that “only you can prevent forest fires” stuff. When will humans ever realize that fires are a good thing? If we had fires every year then none of the fuel buildups would occur, none of the thickets that hide tons of pine needles on the forest floor would just sit there waiting for a lightning strike or worse a careless human to cause a fire”. Continue reading

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