Elk spirits

I found an elk skull on a hike in Northern Colorado and hauled it home with me because it was so beautiful and I knew that it would look stunning if I painted it gold.  They are such gigantic animals and you can get a sense of scale from the image below where I’m holding the skull.

elkspirit-kms-001On the hike we came across an entire elk skeleton.  Every bone was perfectly dried and it was scattered over 400 square feet as if some type of explosion happened.  I hiked out with the skull, sacrum and a vertebrae.elkspirit-kms-002I ended up losing my balance when crossing over some fallen trees and the vertebrae fell out of my pack.  I didn’t even realize that happened until I got back to the truck.


elk skull before gold spray paint


elk skull after gold spray paint

Since we started the hike in the middle of the night we had the chance to hear the elk bugle across the mountains.  I had never heard that sound before.  The bugle of the bull elk is a distinctive sound that begins deep-toned and becomes a high pitched squeal before ending in a succession of grunts.  My husband had a mouth reed and mimicked the female elk call. They had a bit of back and forth conversation across the mountains and after about ten minutes the bull elk traveled in another direction.    elkspirit-kms-005

This elk skull is from a female.  If she gave birth then the calf would have passed right by the sacrum.  I kept thinking about that as I held the sacrum in my hand. elkspirit-kms-006elkspirit-kms-007elkspirit-kms-008elkspirit-kms-009