Cowboying is hard work, with long hours and often boredom punctuated with the occasional high-energy chase. A Pendleton cowboy looking for more excitement took his expertise to the Blue Mountains southeast of the city and found an unusual challenge for his abilities.
Billy Colb, a well-known vaquero of Pendleton, took to the mountains June 30, 1904, in search of bigger game. Near Hidaway Springs (near present-day Ukiah, Ore.) he spotted a yearling bull elk grazing on the mountainside and, being mounted on his best cow horse, shook out a lariat and made a dash for the unsuspecting beast. The young elk ducked and dodged, but Colb’s horse knew its business and cut the animal off at every turn. Colb settled a loop around the elk’s neck from about 40 feet away — and the fight was on.
The elk made a break for the trees but the lariat around its neck brought it up short. The elk turned a somersault, then commenced a high-kicking, wild plunging, bellowing and snorting tirade, much to Colb’s delight. Finally, with tongue hanging out and legs wobbling, and its red eyes fixated on its captor, the elk trotted quietly into Hidaway Springs camp behind Colb.
William Scott, the proprietor of the camp, paid Colb $5 for his prize. Scott planned a zoological garden at the camp, with the elk as its first inhabitant.