Utah shepherd Hugo Macha, 31, was sitting on the ground with his back to a tree in the La Sal Mountains when he was suddenly attacked by a male elk. Although he tried to escape the charging bull, he was not fast enough.
Macha was knocked unconscious by the enraged animal, which gored him with its antlers and punctured one of his lungs. He was later forced to walk more than five miles the following morning until he finally was able to find help in the guise of wildlife employees who were loading crates just used to relocate wild goats in the area.
"He walked up to meet us and he was soaked in blood from his shirt down to his pant leg," recalled one of the Division of Wildlife officers on the scene. "He lifted up his shirt and there was fatty tissue hanging out of the wound on his upper right back."
Shumway and his fellow officers bandaged the wound and put Macha on an IV until a medivac helicopter arrived to take him to a hospital in Grand Junction, CO., when he is recovering.
"This guy was a complete stud," added conservation officer Jay Shirley. "He was in a lot of pain. He couldn't even sit down because it hurt so much. Yet he walked so far without having any food, water or sleep. He was amazing."
Wildlife authorities speculate that the attack may have been prompted by the fact that it is now elk mating season, a time when males become exceptionally aggressive and have been known to fight to the death as they compete for and protect females. However, they don't know for sure whether the rutting male was interested in any of Macha's sheep and thus viewed him as a rival, or was protecting his own mate.