Monday, February 16, 2009
The most famous resident of the Mammoth Hot Springs/Gardiner area has met an unfitting end - and the entire town is talking about it. This resident was of the four legged variety. He was known the world over as "Number Six" because of the numeral on his orange ear tag. Number Six was not just any elk. He was one of the biggest, most impressive, and most aggressive elk around. Every fall he would saunter into the town of Mammoth to gather a large harem of female elk with the intent of passing on his stellar genes to another generation of Yellowstone elk. And he did a good job of it to put it mildly. He also tolerated little from the throngs of tourists who leave thirty or forty points of their IQ's at home. Number Six was responsible for chasing people, hitting people, and most of all goring cars. He alone has been responsible for thousands of dollars of damage to both moving and stationary vehicles. I witnessed him take out the back window of a law enforcement Tahoe last fall. His reputation was well known, and he had a following of photographers that came to watch him compete with other bulls in the Mammoth area each fall. His death has thus created quite a stir. Number Six met his death in Gardiner, just outside the park. Apparently he was crossing a fence and got a foot snagged. He then fell on to his back, with his massive antlers trapped between two boulders. He slowly suffocated on his back. Not the way I hoped he would go out. The Gardiner weekly paper said it best. "He was loved, He was feared, but most of all he was a legend in his own time, A King of Ungulates."