THE PAT NEAL COLUMN: Bucky the Elk, we hardly knew ye

IT WAS ANOTHER tough week in the news, when all the chickens came home to roost, so I may as well start this week by eating crow.

As I stated in last week’s column, my new book, WildLife Volume 2: The Mountain Pond, is still being translated into English. It is not available at any store at this time.

I apologize to those who traveled to the signing in Port Angeles last week to get a copy, when only copies of my two older books were available. I blame myself.

I tried to look on the bright side. Things could have been worse.

What could be worse than a book signing with no with no new book? I’ll tell you. That’s if the book had shown up.

Many fine books have been written about the Olympic Peninsula.

My latest book is not one of them. It is history of environmental plunder set in a dysfunctional wildlife refuge located somewhere in the foothills of the Olympic Mountains.

It contains the tragic story of Bucky the Elk.

Born in the remote headwaters of the Dungeness River, deep within Olympic National Park, Bucky the Elk had a promising career ahead of him, being studied by a team of government biologists.

A national park just wasn’t big enough for Bucky.

One winter, he migrated downriver with the rest of the herd to the bright lights of Sequim.

The Sequim Prairie used to be the elk wintering ground. With the miracle of the irrigation ditch, Sequim became an agricultural center just as soon as the land could be stolen from the Native Americans.

With the miracle of the postwar boom, the farmers were replaced by retirees. These new settlers developed Sequim into a worker’s paradise of box stores and subdivisions that we celebrate to this day.

Retirees love to garden. Bucky loved to eat. He pruned trees and shrubs all over Sequim. He never was known to charge for his services.

Bucky grew a huge rack of antlers, rumored to be the result of a secret diet of lavender.

He posed for hundreds of photographs, often stopping traffic along U.S. Highway 101 in the process.

After years of posing, Bucky was able to realize his dream.

He was selected as the model elk for the welcome signs at either end of Sequim. He became a celebrity. Bucky was in the spotlight.

Unfortunately, the spotlight had some crosshairs in it. Bucky had to worry about stalkers.

He was involved in a hunting incident. There was an operation. He did not survive.

Those of us who knew Bucky were deeply saddened but not surprised by his passing.

I felt it was time to honor the life and accomplishments of this noble elk. I thought that by making Bucky a symbol of environmental stewardship, his death would not be in vain.

There have been proposals to tranquilize, neuter and remove the Sequim elk to another community.

My new book proposes an alternative management option that would evaluate each species — elk and humans — by their impact on the environment.

Elk are dangerous wild animals. Elk on drugs are worse than that.

No other community will accept a hung-over Sequim elk. They teach the other elk bad habits.

Conversely, many of the Sequim humans are already on drugs. We could lure them onto school buses with more drugs and drive them to the big cities, where they could blend in with the locals, say, after a ball game.

Like I said, it’s OK if the book hasn’t been printed yet. I have to live here.


Pat Neal is a fishing guide and writer. His column appears in the PDN every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or [email protected] See his blog at

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