ELKHEART: A PERSONAL TRIBUTE TO WAPITI & THEIR WORLD
Author: David Peterson
Publisher: Big Earth / Johnson, Nov 1998
Fascinating journey into the soul of a man whose passion is the American elk, whose spirit lives deep in the mountain country, and whose voice resonates with the power of the wild. 5x8 inches, 240 pgs.
In Elkheart, critically acclaimed writer, editor and essayist David Petersen presents a deeply personal, intimately informed, and (by his own admission) ?somewhat eccentric? portrait of the North American elk, or wapiti, and its big wild world. From his self-built cabin in the southern Rockies and throughout the wilderness West, Petersen has spent the past twenty years observing, studying, praising, and defending the grand wild beasts that animate his daily world. Especially so the elk, a miraculous come-back that, through the 112,000-member Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, enjoys a larger and more dedicated fan club than even the grizzly bear or wolf.
In this tightly linked collection of essays, Petersen takes us deep into the mountain forests to watch, smell, and talk with wapiti (a Shawnee word meaning ?white rump?) and their wild neighbors, reflecting with wisdom, authority, and humility on their evolution, their behavior, their daily lives, and the impact of the continued ?suburbanization? of the West. Our guide looks as well at the various creatures who prey on elk?from insects, to bears, to people with guns. In the latter instance, Petersen steps boldly beyond conventional side-taking to selectively praise the good and damn the bad, his only loyalty being truth, culminating with an exuberant condemnation of elk ranching and other forms of ?wildlife profiteering.?
As usual, though, Petersen?s own words express it best: ?Elkheart is not nearly so much about science as it is about, well ? love. Love for and from the steep rocky heart of elk country, where I live the year ?round.?
?These essays, heartfelt and humorous, but never sentimental or glib, ask us to move beyond the polemics of hunting, predator control, human economics, and wilderness philosophy, and to take side with the elk?s, and nature?s truth.? ?Orion
?This is a rare gem of nature writing: a natural history book that is unusually informative, entertaining and opinionated, thanks to Petersen?s weaving of quality research and personal experience with personality, philosophy, humor and some downright furious rants against what he considers to be the most offensive and dangerous threats to wildlife and wilderness.? ?High Country News
?David Petersen is part of the wild, wooded Colorado Rockies, an elk spy as well as an elkheart. A century hence this graceful, passionate, witty book will be studied as part of the post-industrial awakening?the process of thought and action by which we restored wapiti, grizzlies, wolves, cougars, and the grand, beautiful country in which they yet abide. Read, think, act.? ?Ted Williams, Editor-at-Large, Audubon Magazine
?Elkheart is a fascinating journey into the soul of a man whose passion is the American elk, whose spirit lives deep in the mountain country, and whose voice resonates with the power of the wild. Like his friend and mentor, Edward Abbey, Petersen covers a wide emotional terrain?sometimes tender and reflective, sometimes rowdy and irreverent, yet always clear and wise. And shining through it all is a man?s unshakable love for the outdoors and his absolute devotion to protecting what remains of America?s glorious wildlands.? ?Richard Nelson, author of The Island Within
?David Petersen?s Elkheart is filled with the articulate, entertaining voice of a very bright, inquisitive mind, while also reflecting a tortured heart. It is a stimulating, timely, compelling commentary on our wildlife and its uncertain future, with elk staging the central attraction. However, Elkheart is about much more than elk and deserves to be read widely. It is inspirational, with values we shall need for tomorrow. Petersen uses the present at a vantage point to contemplate the future. I recommend this book highly.? ?Valerius Geist, author of Elk Country
?Petersen?s skills as a naturalist and his clear, thoughtful writing style ensure that Elkheart will be enjoyed by anyone who appreciates wildlife and wild places. Elkheart portrays the author?s love and passion for elk and elk country, and his dedication to perpetuating the existence of both.? ?Gary Wolfe, President, Rocky Mountain Elk foundation
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Petersen is the author of half a dozen previous books, every one critically applauded, including The Nearby Faraway, Ghost Grizzlies, and Among the Elk; and editor of three additional volumes, including A Hunter?s Heart and Confessions of a Barbarian: Selections from the Journals of Edward Abbey. Dave makes his home in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Foreword?by Dan Crockett?xi
Among the Elk at Play?1
What?s in a Name??11
Among the Elk and the Aspens?27
A Meditation on Mystery?41
Forgotten Elk of the North?51
Alone in the Dark?65
When Elk Get in Their Licks?77
Along Wapiti Trails?87
The Bear Who Came to Dinner?113
Griz the Elk Hunter?127
In Defense of Predators?143
The Vertical Predator?151
Elk Ranching, Revisited?161
Daggers in the Heart?177
What the Animals Know?187
About the Author (so-called)?213