Elk [poop] everywhere

As my editor has pointed out on several occasions, I’ve been remiss in not meeting my writing assignments – and she’s right. The beer critique really wasn’t very inspiring (I’d rather drink it than write about it), and let’s face it, writing is hard, requires time, commitment and most of all inspiration.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m thoroughly enjoying our odyssey and am totally inspired to do lots of things (primarily fly fishing). However, literary inspiration can strike at anytime, and when it does one must put pen to paper. And so I thought I would talk about elk and more specifically, elk poop.

That’s right – elk poop. The poop itself is really quite unremarkable. It looks like rabbit turds; you know, little round, brown pellets but larger in size. Although I was informed by Greg, one of the very competent people working at the RV park where we stayed in Gardiner, Mont., that during rutting season, elk poop looks very different than at other times of year. During the rutting love fest, elk poop takes on a more horse-like appearance rather than the harmless pellets.

Be that as it may, regardless of the time of year, the shit is everywhere. This is somewhat ironic given that every time an elk makes an appearance, 8 million tourists jump out of their cars to take a picture of it.

I can’t understand why everyone gets so excited about an elk sighting. Seriously, I think residents of Gardiner keep elk as pets, much like people elsewhere keep little foo-foo dogs.

“Have you seen my new pet elk? I call her Montana. Isn’t she cute? She’s not totally housebroken yet, but the little pellets aren’t a problem to clean up. I can use the vacuum on them once they dry out. I also charge the tourists a dollar a picture when she’s out in the front yard.”

Anyway, my inspiration for this rant came after an unsuccessful fly-fishing expedition. The road along the Yellowstone River runs by the local school, and on the way back, I stopped briefly to watch the football team practice. I got out of the truck to take a picture of the team on the practice field with the famous Roosevelt Arch at the north entrance to Yellowstone in the background, and almost stepped in elk poop in the process.

That’s right, elk poop in the school parking lot – the stuff is everywhere! Then, a short distance away, I found the guilty elk lounging in a field along the main street of Gardiner with tourists and their cameras. It was then that it occurred to me that tourists in Yellowstone are as common as elk poop. I wonder if there is any correlation.

Bad photo of elk poop

Postscript – it is now into the first week of October and we have moved from Gardiner at the park’s north entrance to West Yellowstone at the west entrance. As we were packing the Airstream to leave Gardiner, I noticed that a nocturnal visitor had left us a small parting gift. Apparently an elk had visited at some point in the night. Janie swears she heard it bugling.

Passing through the Roosevelt Arch on our way to West Yellowstone


  1. Sandy
    Oct 7, 2012

    Scott & Janie – due to a crazy busy schedule, I had missed a number of your adventures. Reading through September brought the same feelings I have while reading a good book – not wanting to put it down and excited about what the next chapter will bring. The writing, the photos, the emotions evoked are remarkable and I anxiously await the next chapters!

  2. Colleen
    Oct 7, 2012

    So no elk poop jewelry to rival Alaska’s moose poop jewelry? Darn!

  3. Janie
    Oct 10, 2012

    Sandy – thanks so much for your kind comments. We appreciate your “riding along” with us. There is no greater compliment than readership, and we’ll do our best to ensure the next chapters are worth your time! Hugs, Janie

  4. Janie
    Oct 10, 2012

    Colleen – please don’t give Scott any ideas … snort!

  5. Danielle
    Nov 13, 2012

    Oh. My. Gawd. Soooo frickin’ funny. I now know way more about elk poop — any poop for that matter — than I ever wanted to know! You two are the shit! 😉

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