elk in the mist
They came up from our left, like ghosts out of the snowy mist, 8 pronghorn racing to cross our path. Eight rare survivors of this harsh winter that is taking its sweet time to leave. The heeler sisters threw themselves forward, stress-whining because they know they're not allowed to bark at pronghorn. The maskless sister on the console at my shoulder, her white-cheeked sister to the right with feet on the dash, muzzle pressed hard against the windshield.
As I rolled to a slow stop, trying to decide if pronghorn are going to be rare enough this year to actually justify recording their observation in April, I looked out the right window. And there, also swathed in snow mist, were eight elk. Just as close as the pronghorn. Just as surprised to see a truck rolling out of the mist as we are to see them.
Okay, I'm lying here. When we pulled off the highway, driving over the remnant snowbank that had been blocking the gate for 5+ months, I actually thought to myself, "This would be a good chance to catch some elk out on the prairie, foraging on the new sprouts of green grass".
So they weren't a total surprise. But still, any time you are lucky enough to spy elk on this desert flat is a surprise.
Aaaanyway, as the truck came to a stop, the pronghorn's hooves throwing small clods of mud in the air as they dashed across the two-track road in front of us, I announced "Elk!"
And the maskless heeler turned to glare at me, ears up and eyes wide.
"Are you mental?" her expression points said, "Those are pronghorn!"
Later, the pronghorn and elk duly recorded, along with their GPS coordinates and habitat type, we continued on. Eventually that morning we would explore a road I have never driven on in 45 years, but we needed to get around a huge snowbank, and OnX said the faint tracks were there, so off we went.
Heelers never did see the elk
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