Hunters in Wyoming rescue a cow elk stranded in a icy hole in a stream. After she nearly tramples the hunters, she confounds them with her actions that follow. Video courtesy of Elk Foundation Life Member Ron Niziolek. Here is Ron's story behind the video....
I thought I’d share a pretty cool experience that happened while elk hunting with my family over the New Year holidays. My son Nick is home on leave from the Air Force and my brother Riff and his family came over from Oregon. My nephew Sam is also home on leave from Iraq. Sam, Nick and I had late cow tags.
Sam and Riff were out scouting for us around Cody a couple days before the end of the season when they spotted an elk head sticking out of the ice in a creek. Closer inspection revealed what they thought was a calf elk stuck in a massive hole in the ice. It appeared to have been there awhile but seemed nervous, so they didn’t approach too close.
They came back to town and picked up my nephew Kevin, Nick and me. We gathered up some rope and an ice bar in the hopes we could do something to save it. If not, one of us would use our tag and not let the meat go to waste.
When we got to the elk, we could see its ears above the ice. As we approached, she disappeared. The hole was 6 feet deep with a couple feet of water. She was a full-grown cow, and we decided to rope her up and yank her out.
Sam lay prone on the ice right above the elk, while I anchored myself and held his feet to keep him from sliding in with her. He slowly leaned out and down with his 40-foot lariat and did his best to talk reassuringly to her. Sam got the loop around her neck with ease and managed to do so without her thrashing at all.
As they started to pull her up, she began to lunge and kick. After awhile she popped out, and with the slack in the line all the guys fell over backwards with the elk still coming at them. The elk had more energy than we anticipated, and it was quite a sight watching my brother and nephew get run over and stepped on. Now we had a wild elk running and bucking and pulling Sam around. Nothing like some good old redneck Wyoming boys having fun! Seriously, we never really got that far in our thinking to figure how to get the rope off the elk once it was out.
She ended up spinning around and running back down on the ice. She gained her footing, looked at us briefly, then jumped willingly back into her hole. I think she felt safe down there. She stood looking at us with the rope still around her neck and Sam still attached to the other end. You could read it in her eyes: “You guys are really stupid.” Right about then, the guys felt like shooting her. Riff had a big hoof print on his knee and was quite upset that we were back where we started. My friend Jim showed up and thought maybe we could tie another rope on the first one at the loop (referred to as a honda). When we got the elk up again, he would pull on the new rope and get some slack on the first one.
For this round, the guys braced themselves and started pulling. She didn’t fight or help too much. It took about two full minutes to get her up and pulled 20 yards from the hole. Sam was able to talk to her, hold her head and get the ropes off. She mewed a few times, lifted her head, then barked and got to her feet. After a few wobbly steps she was off at a trot for the mountains. We watched her for about a half mile until she disappeared over a ridge. With our sick sense of humor we were expecting to hear rifle shots from the other side. That would be just our luck. It’s a family memory that will last forever. I want to say thanks to my son and two nephews and everyone else who is proudly serving in our armed forces. God bless.
Ron Nizeolek - Cody, Wyoming