I almost quit the Elk Bugle Corp because I just couldn’t deal with the electric car and being tossed around. But Mark LaShell, the Cataloochee Ranger who’s in charge of the EBC, said that I didn’t need to be in the car – just roam around on foot. What a great idea!
I went to the Worlds Headquarters, the small building next to the Ranger Station and picked up one elk antler and drove down the valley.
My first stop was the Palmer Chapel. Nobody there so I drove to the Pretty Hollow Trailhead where 12 people from a Senior Center were having a picnic. They chose this spot because of the Porto Johns. I don’t think the residents got much our of the elk discussion but the staff were very interested.
I then drove to the Caldwell House where most of my visitor contacts were. Visitor Contacts is the metric of the success of this program. How many people do you actually talk to? Both children and their parents were fascinated by the antler. Several told me that they had seen an Momma elk and calf in the valley. I didn’t see anything, though I kept looking.
Children from two families were playing in the stream in front of the Caldwell house but they came running when I got out the antler.
Then I drove to the end of the valley and encouraged a large family group to walk to the Woody House. They all had sneakers on so the two-mile round trip was no big deal. I showed them historic pictures of the Woody House. Everyone I met was fascinated by the historic Cataloochee pictures.
I walked to the Woody House and met several other people. No, I didn’t carry the antlers, just talked to them.
We now have seven calves, most of them females. Females are prized here because they can produce heirs. This is probably the only society and situation where girls are considered more desirable than boys.
So I think this is going to work. I had 48 visitor contacts. The family traveling the farthest were from Houston and the closest were from Sylva.