You can lead this elk to water, but he only drinks bottled |

You can lead this elk to water, but he only drinks bottled

Museum resident no longer has taste for drinking from well

Dan Olsen
Clyde, the resident elk at Wyman Living History Museum east of Craig, has recently developed a taste for bottled water after being offered a sample. Julie Harris waters the 10-year-old bull elk, a big attraction at the museum, especially in the fall when he bugles to greet visitors arriving.
Dan Olsen

— Clyde, the Wyman Living History Museum’s elk, is a very picky drinker when it comes to quenching his thirst.

At first, he refused to drink water pumped from a well after tasting city water trucked to the Wyman Living History Museum east of Craig.

Then, once he wrapped his lips around a bottle of store-bought water, he said goodbye to the city water, preferring the bottle.

“It’s what he likes best,” museum owner Lou Wyman said. “Delbert and Diana Knez were caring for him and gave him some bottled water. Now that’s what he wants.”

Diana Knez attributes his water preference to Kylie Harris, daughter of Clyde’s caretaker, Julie Harris, who she said offered the first bottle.

Perhaps Clyde is remembering when he was a small calf on the Wyman Elk Ranch, being bottle fed after his mother died giving birth.

Whatever the reason, Clyde no longer has any desire to drink from the ranch’s hand-dug well or from the 6,000-gallon tank of city water.

Facing staggering costs for keeping the elk in bottled water, Harris sometimes fills bottles from the tank and fools Clyde into thinking he is getting the good stuff.

Raised in captivity at the ranch, Clyde appreciates water and can’t seem to get enough.

“The Federal Veterinary Service wanted us to clean up his water hole during an inspection,” Wyman said. “We tried, but he would hook his horns on the spigot and turn on the water, making his own mud hole. He wants to be as dirty as he can be.”

Prior to starting the museum, Wyman was ranching and raising an elk herd, supplying buyers with meat, hides and teeth and antlers for jewelry.

Ten years ago, Wyman kept the newborn Clyde when he sold off the rest of the herd and got out of the elk business.

The elk has become a major attraction at the museum in the meantime and lately has taken to bugling for guests.

“It’s like a greeting,” Wyman said. “He bugles whenever somebody drives up.”

And people have been driving up frequently. Mostly to visit the museum, but no trip is complete without a visit to the massive bull, now sporting a nine by seven point rack that has been estimated at scoring more than 400 points in the Boone and Crockett point system, Harris said.

Visitors should note that October is rutting season for elk, and Clyde is somewhat moody this time of year.

“He likes women better than men,” Wyman said. “Some days, he doesn’t like anybody.”

Like all elk, Clyde will drop his antlers in mid-March, only to re-grow them next spring at a rate of three inches of length per week.

In the meantime, caretakers keep a supply of bottled water close at hand for the museum’s elk, and they keep an eye on the tap because they know Clyde enjoys his water.

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