A recent post on Elk Tracks, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s blog, recounts the story of two archery hunters in central Idaho that were scouting a series of high-mountain wallows and watering holes last September when they discovered a calf stuck in the mud.

Jeff McConnell and Brant Hoover were hunting outside McCall, Idaho, working through a series of mountain meadows and mud holes. At the sixth wallow, they jumped a bull and a few cows, but one cow seemed reluctant to leave.

“What we didn’t notice was a calf in the wallow,” Jeff said. “It was wallowing around and we could hear it like it was using the wallow, but after a while we heard a cow mewing in the woods. It was like a lost cow mew as if she was searching for her baby or something so we stood up and saw this calf was stuck.”

McConnell and Hoover cautiously tried to free the calf while its alarmed mother stood barking at the men 50 yards away. After successfully freeing the animal, it spooked and lodged itself right back into the muddy hole a second time, so the men made another rescue attempt, but this time made sure it would run to its mother instead of the mud. McConnell was able to film part of the encounter on his cell phone.

“She stood up kind of slow. You could tell she was tired. She walked a little bit, looked back at us, and kind of trotted away. Then we both looked at each other like ‘That was the coolest thing that will probably ever happen to us in the middle of the woods!’ We both said we wouldn’t leave until we got her out of there. Hiking out of the woods, we couldn’t stop talking about it. It felt pretty good to know we did the right thing by rescuing that animal. It was pretty cool. We couldn’t sleep. We talked about it all night,” Jeff added.