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.

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elk skull before gold spray paint

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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

 

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