May 08, 2003 11:00 pm
FRIENDS: Larry Wayne Jones feeds Elvis, his elk friend. ().
FRIENDS: Larry Wayne Jones feeds Elvis, his elk friend. ().

By Lisa Britton

For The Observer


Larry Wayne Jones can't hunt elk anymore.

"Won't" may better describe the reason he stopped hunting more than 10 years ago when a wild elk adopted him and his dogs.

"I used to be an avid elk hunter, and while I was writing a book about it, this guy here came and adopted me," Jones said, pointing to a picture of himself feeding a seven-point bull.

Jones' story begins in the winter of 1992 when four bull elk showed up at his Garden Valley, Idaho, property in search of food.

As springtime approached, the elk took off for the higher elevations, but not before shedding their antlers around Jones' property.

The seven-point dropped both antlers side-by-side in the driveway.

That seven-point came back each winter for the next three years, shedding his antlers near the house each year.

"I was feeding him in the winter and he showed me his appreciation by giving me his antlers," Jones said.

He named the elk "Elvis."

"I named him Elvis because he curled his lip at me," Jones said.

Soon he had Elvis eating hay from his hand. What's more, whenever Jones and his dogs ventured into the nearby Sawtooth Mountains — Elvis' country — the elk would seek him out.

Friends and family found these stories hard to believe, Jones said.

So he began toting a video camera on his excursions, capturing Elvis eating hay nearby or lying near all four of Jones' dogs.

The taped images inspired Jones to add a soundtrack — Elvis style, of course.

Jones began writing songs, eventually adding the music to two movies — "Rocky Mountain King" and "Elk Whisperer" — in a style he describes as "rock-a-billy."

Then Elvis disappeared.

For six years Jones assumed the seven-point hadn't made it through hunting season.

Hunters and hikers would report to Jones, saying they'd seen the seven-point bull with a narrow rack, but he wasn't convinced.

"There's so many Elvis sightings," he said.

Then, in 2002, Jones and Elvis reconnected during a hike in the Sawtooths.

"He found me. He came walking right up to me," he said.

Jones' recently-released a third video titled "Still Kick'n." Over the past 10 years, Jones has traveled the country to show the videos and perform songs from his two music albums.

Tonight in Baker City he will play the videos on a large projection screen while performing the songs he's written to accompany the images. His presentation begins at 6:30 p.m. at Community Connection, 2810 Cedar St. Admission is $5 and proceeds will benefit senior services in Baker County.

Jones will also bring the last set of antlers Elvis shed near the Garden Valley home.