Elk on the Prairie

Why Were They There?

Story and Photo by Joseph Zahnle

Once a year in the mid-2010s, when my wife and I took the beautiful drive from Orofino to Grangeville, we’d see deer on Highway 12. Both deer and pheasant were visible on Highway 162 out of Kamiah but once we reached Highway 95 going south, we usually saw only miles of open land on the Camas Prairie. And then in 2015, we were surprised by something we’d never seen in that region.

Off the highway between Cottonwood and Grangeville, two young bull elk stood still in a field, looking everything over. It appeared as though they were lost. They peered in all directions, as if trying to make up their minds which way to go.

I looked around, too, and could only imagine from which direction they’d come. There was nothing to see but open fields for miles. It wasn’t the type of area frequented by elk, so they must have traveled a long way.

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