A Brotherly Affair

A visit from Luke: Written by Luke.

My natural instinct is to avoid decomposing flesh. I think this is a normal human response. When I was a child my parents did not have to tell me that rotting carcasses are not to be touched. It only took two of my five senses to come to this conclusion. Something has changed since then. Maybe it was my anatomy and physiology class that changed my mind. Possibly microbiology has dulled my senses. Today I gladly lay hands on carcasses, inspecting everything that the wolves, coyotes, eagles and ravens have turned their noses to. Jesse has similar dullness to his natural senses.

Two days ago Jesse spotted 7 wolves congregated upon a kill. Today I had the privilege of going through the leftovers of that kill to identity the victim and the suspected killers. When we came upon the site I was initially surprised. What we saw seemed to me, very little. An elk is a large creature. If we were to weigh all the body parts we found it wouldn’t have been more than 15 pounds. But this was plenty of evidence for Jesse. He quickly determined that the remains were from a calf elk. He noted that ravens, coyotes, wolves and an eagle or two had visited the calf. The wolves had left some of the hide behind which we cut into smaller pieces to determine where the wolves had sunk their teeth. We found puncture wounds and hemorrhaging in the neck area and hind quarters. Jesse said this was good evidence that wolves had killed the elk. (Even though Jesse had seen wolves on the kill site a few days prior it is still important that he collect as much information as possible to determine who killed the animal) This process was fascinating to me. By the end of the necropsy my gloves were covered in elk hair and bits of hide. I had no repulsion from the carcass. I would even go as far to say that I may have eaten some of it had Jesse offered. Strange yes, but something inside me wonders what the wolves taste. Getting in touch with my natural side you could say…

Before getting to the elk Jesse and I traveled via snow-machine up and down the Firehole, Madison, and Gibbon drainages. I wore the famed “refrigerator suit” that Madeline Magnuson mentioned in an earlier post. This was number seven of my layers. With every inch of skin covered I still managed to get bitterly cold. As the day wore on I noticed that Jesse seemed very comfortable. As many of you know Jesse’s body composition is mostly bone and muscle. I was blest with larger amounts of subcutaneous tissue (fat). Somehow Jesse still manages to stay warmer that I.

The next morning, after sleeping better than I have in weeks, I awoke to the smell of coffee. Megan became one of my best friends that morning because she made me the most amazing cup of coffee and lots of it. She really is great. Jesse and I then hopped on the snow-machine and buzzed up and down the Madison and Firehole drainages. No wolves for me but many beautiful views and priceless time with my brother. As I began to say my goodbyes and drove away I became quite sad. It is always so good to be with Jesse, I was sad to go. Jesse really is doing very well.


  1. Just to set the record straight, your parents did warn you about rotting carcasses when you were a toddler.

  2. Still, it would be a more pleasant task in mid-winter, on ice, than in mid-summer, I'd think!


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