I went over to Nelson’s house and we settled down in his sitting room. We were listening to Zeppelin on vinyl when I noticed the enormous curving tusks that now resided over the fireplace.
“Where did those come from?”
Nelson looked up at them as he packed his pipe and grinned.
“Remember that trip to Alaska I took?”
“I totally killed a woolly mammoth, man. Male. A bull mammoth. Shot it right through the forehead with an elephant gun on the Alaskan tundra. Then I fried up some mammoth steaks with my team of Eskimos and we toasted the big bastard with vodka shots.”
They cloned mammoths back into existence a few years ago. Alaska was now known as “The Mammoth State” and their tourist industry was one of the most profitable in the world.
“I had no idea you could hunt them,” I said, trying to hide my jealousy at the impressive trophy.
“Yeah, it’s expensive as hell,” said Nelson. He finished packing his pipe and lit it and blew a classy jet of smoke.
“What does it taste like?”
Nelson shrugged like it was nothing big.
“Like a steak, honestly. Little gamey, tougher than cow, chewier, but still pretty damn good.”
He was a dentist who enjoyed taking long hunting trips hunting elk and deer and moose. He’d killed a wolf and a bear when he was younger. He’d never hunted big game in Africa. Too political these days. You didn’t want to get Nelson going on what bullshit it was that he couldn’t go kill a rhino or a lion “just because too many fucking amateurs went over there and couldn’t keep quiet about it.”
“Well, I guess you’re going to have to tell me how you got him,” I said, admiring the tusks.
They were mounted to a shield-shaped oak panel and curved out magnificently, looking to be six or seven feet in length. The tips nearly touched Nelson’s vaulted living room ceiling, which was almost twenty feet high.
“Yeah, man, for sure,” said Nelson.
“I got the passes through my buddy up at the state Capitol, you know, that Gueterriez faggot, the one who wants to push through the law involving rain water? He owed me a favor since I pulled some strings with some guys down at the country club that got him an alibi with some fiasco involving a stripper or something, it was last year, but anyway, I got the pass from him because apparently he’s got family up in Alaska and they just started this new hunting lodge that allows you to hunt mammoths. Really heavily regulated, like every other fucking thing in this country, but it’s still possible. Five figure price tag, man, just for the program itself, not including travel or lodging or anything else, had to sell off major stock to pay for it, but I mean, it’s a fucking woolly mammoth, man, those things were extinct up until I was forty, who the fuck wouldn’t want to kill one, you know?”
“So anyway, that was like last summer when I found out about it and they’re trying to keep this really quiet as long as they can because obviously the tree-huggers are going to go apeshit once they find out this is happening, but I was one of the first people to get in on it, so as far as I know I’m one of the only people on the planet that got to shoot one of these things. I guarantee they’ll shut it down once too many people know about it, but whatever, you know. The mammoth population is growing so fast, they’re saying it’ll be totally legal to hunt them like deer or anything else in another generation or so.”
“But anyway, the Guiterrez’s wife’s cousins or something own this big patch of land up there and they’re right by the place where they’re breeding the mammoths, right? Well, apparently, the mammoth place will very occasionally get a male that is not suitable for breeding for whatever reason, and they never knew what to do with them.”
“Well, anyway, on the downlow, Guiterrez’s wife’s cousins, the guy who runs the place is named Wayne, he offers to buy the mammoths and let them stay on his property, which is like a couple hundred acres of pure Alaskan tundra and wilderness, you know? They just let these reject males out just to chill on their own, right? And they let people study them and all that, but recently, Wayne was getting all these offers from people who wanted to hunt them. And he looked into it and pulled some strings with his own buddies in the state government there and then they pulled strings with the feds and then before you know it he’s got a set of rules to issue hunting permits for mammoths. God knows how he did it, they’ve only been back less than a decade, but who gives a fuck, right? He made it happen, that’s what’s important.”
“Apparently, the breeders weren’t happy about this at all, as you can imagine, so they added on a ton of fucking rules. There’s rules, like always, you know, like, it has to be a male, it has to be of a certain age, has to be proven to be mentally deficient in some way or you know, overly aggressive, whatever it takes to make it not suitable for passing on genes and all that shit.”
“So anyway, I get up there last November, and I got hooked up with these Inuit people, you know, Eskimos, leader was was named Mike, really nice guy, big drinker, had a long ponytail, big gut, in his fifties. Really knew the terrain. Had been studying the mammoths. And he took me off into the brush with Alexandra (that’s Nelson’s .416 Rigby he named after Alexandra Daddario) and that was it, man.”
“We just walked around for about a day and didn’t see shit. Went back to the lodge and then we went out the next day and didn’t see shit then and I’m like, what the fuck, man, where could these things be hiding you know?”
“He’s apologetic and all that but it really wasn’t his fault and anyway we go back to the lodge but at like three AM I wake up and he’s shaking me and going, “They saw one about two clicks from here over on Sawyer’s Pass, which is this kind of valley area, and so I get up and throw all my shit on and we were out there in less than half an hour and sure enough, there down in the fucking moonlight is a fucking woolly mammoth, man.”
“They’d offered to show me a mammoth over at the breeding site when I got there but I turned them down. I wanted to see my first mammoth in the wild, and just before I shot it.”
“They’re not as big as you’d think, man, I was picturing just this monster, and they’re really only about a torso-length or so taller than me and you. Probably ten or eleven feet tall, hell, one could easily fit in my living room here with room to spare. But I was picturing this, like, dinosaur-size thing.”
“But anyway, we’re holed up on this sort of rocky outcropping and I’m on my belly getting Alexandra ready and this things just down there kind of meandering its way across the open space of the pass. There’s trees and shit but they’re spaced out enough that I know I’m going to get a good fucking shot and I’m telling you, I was fucking pissing myself I was so excited.”
“I lined up Alexandra and I waited and I waited and I waited even though I knew I had a good shot. When I finally squeezed the trigger I was so excited I didn’t even realize I’d done it until the bullet hit a second or so later and the thing just starts and bolts for the trees. Moved way faster than you’d think, man, kicking up this humongous cloud of snow.”
“I’d been aiming for a headshot, drop it right there, you know, nice and clean, but I hit it in the shoulder and I was all pissed off because now we gotta track it in the dark, you know.”
“So we get down there and it was relatively easy to follow, big animal like that, we could fucking hear it, dude, it was making these whining noises, almost made me sorry for it, you know?”
“But we tracked it for like an hour and a half before we finally came up on it and it was standing on the other side of this snowed out meadow and it’s shoulder had finally given out and it was kind of dragging itself, leaking all this black blood, fur all matted, still making that noise, I could smell it too, smelled fucking nasty like a barnyard or something, but we kind of surprised it and I thought it was going to charge but it just kind of rolled its eyes at us and kept making that noise.”
“Mike was like, “You gotta end it, man, I can’t stand that noise.” and I was like, “Quit being a pussy.” Alex had blown a hole in the thing’s shoulder that was pretty impressive, pretty much destroyed it’s left front bicep above the elbow, but the thing was still trying to walk and making that noise.”
“Alexandra was already loaded so I fucking just took aim and the thing was tossing its head all over and its furry-ass trunk was going up and around like a kid playing with his dick and so it took me a second but the shot was clean. I squeezed and I nailed it right between the eyes, perfect fucking shot, and it just keels over.”
“And Mike and I stood there and for a second I’m quiet and then I just fucking go crazy, man, I mean, I can’t fucking believe I just did that, you know? Worth every goddamn penny. I go over to it and I’m fucking TOUCHING the thing, you know? It’s still warm, and it’s fur was all matted, felt like a bear, and it stank something awful but it was like, holy God, the last time these things were around, you know, humans had barely invented the wheel yet.” (he’s not entirely right about this, mammoths existed as recently as 1650 according to Google, but hell if I’m going to tell him that while he’s on this kick of a story)
“And Mike comes over and he tells me, “You’re the first person to get one like this” and I’m like, “Holy fuck I’m gonna be famous,” you know? But then I remember that this is secret so so much for that but who cares, right?”
“And so they can’t really move them cause they’re so big but the crew came out and I took some skin and I took a bunch of meat and I took his front teeth and now they’re hanging over my fucking fireplace. And the bullet that killed him is in between them, see it?”
Indeed, there was a large golden bullet mounted to the oaken shield between the two tusks.
“What happened to the rest of him,” I asked.
“I let Wayne have him. He wanted it, that was part of the deal. I got the tusks and some meat, and he got everything else. So his people came in, they took the carcass, broke it up. Don’t now what they did with it. I think the breeders got to study some of him, internal organs and shit. But yeah. So everyone’s happy, right?”