BUGLE OF THE ELK by Paul Bernsen


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Tatonka, ""no ordinary"" bull elk, shares the stage of the Olympic National Forest with a variety of humans: there are two boys who accidently set a forest fire; ranger Rick Richards who separates Tatonka from his father in the course of thinning the herd; Queets Indian fishermen Henry and Skip Whitewater who cross Tatonka's path from time to time; and, finally, ""Dr. D."" the San Francisco surgeon who saves Tatonka's life by removing an aluminum arrowhead. Unfortunately, Bernsen never hits on a way of distinguishing between his four-and two-footed characters; Tatonka and his herd are seen making ""decisions"", worrying about male ""heirs,"" and, apparently, bestowing names on newborn calves. It isn't until Dr. D., who's used to human patients and immaculate hospital conditions, undertakes to operate on the feverish, 800-pound elk, that Bernsen's laborously constructed narrative and knowledge of game management begin to pull together. By then most readers will have signed off, and even those who might hang on for the veterinary tour de force will have to wonder why an elk this smart doesn't just doctor himself.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1976
Publisher: McKay