Domi is our Rocky Mountain elk bull, with majestic antlers, six points of equilibrium covered in a velvety skin. Chest out, he paws the dirt, hurling clumps of soil into the air. The muscles on his legs quiver as he prances the perimeter of his pen.
Joe loads the sedative dart into the rifle, leans the barrel against the post, aims and fires. Domi kicks viciously, his torso contorting. The drug takes effect quickly. The animal staggers, falls to his knees, his nose crushing into the ground, the hind quarters collapsing. His head succumbs, twisted by the extremities of his rack.
Joe rushes in, retrieving a meat saw and a rope from his back pocket. He wraps the rope around the base of the antler and the sharp teeth of the saw cleave through the skin, bone and spongy marrow. The raw meat smell assaults me. A pipeline of blood spurts crazy red lines onto the soil. Joe hands me the first half.
Its warmth wraps itself into my fingers. Blood pulsates from the marrow and trickles down my hand. Joe hands me the second antler. With arms extended, aching under the weight of the panache, I run to place them in their deep freeze coffin.
When I return, Domi stands in the shadow, head down, shoulders slumped. Crushed grass clings to his muddy coat and blood cakes his forehead. His legs tremble and foam bubbles around his droopy lips. My heart sinks. I hang my head. My shoulders sag.