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Elk named Hammock Head steals lawn furniture and hearts near Mount Rainier

Hammock Head shed his antlers, according to a Packwood resident, but did not shed the hammock. Fish and Wildlife may have to intervene.

PACKWOOD, Wash. — In the logging town of Packwood, at the base of Mount Rainier, elk are everywhere. Carved in wood, on business logos, even advertising soft drinks on the window of the local grocery.

You might even see real ones if you pass through in the afternoon, when the local herd beds down. But one elk here is a legend: Ol’ Hammock Head.

“Right now he's our star attraction,” said Gene Sieber, who works for the Packwood Visitors Center.

"Hammock Head is a local elk that got a little bit of trouble last Septemberish. It's estimated he had a tussle with a hammock,” said Dennis Reibe, a retired architect who lives in Packwood with his wife Joyce.

"He is a world-famous elk, a spike, here in town that had a battle with a hammock, and I guess he won?” added Sieber.

Ever since, Reibe said, Hammock Head has been walking around with the remnants of the hammock. A crown of victory, perhaps, but one that doesn't look comfortable.

"When I first saw him I just felt so badly for him,” said Joyce Reibe.”The Fish and Wildlife people, they came right away. They took a look at him they decided well he can still eat and the other elk are getting along with him just fine."

Everyone had been waiting for the elk to shed his antlers, which generally happens in the spring.

Dennis Reibe made 'Wanted' posters that hang in business windows all over town offering a reward for whoever finds the rack. The plan is to mount the antlers in the White Pass Country Historical Museum, hammock and all.

Siblings Hazel and Jonah Dobson found part of the prize in a tree at their family's cabin.

“I saw this chain and that's when I knew it was from Hammock Head,” said Jonah, holding up a piece of battered hammock with rope and chain hanging from it, just like the other half still attached to the bull elk. “It probably took a long time for him to get it off because it was like very tangled in the tree."

But when Hammock Head did lose his antlers in late April, the hammock remained attached to his head. Dennis Reibe told us that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has been notified about the elk's condition and may intervene. 

"I hope he just turns out to be a regular male elk that gets to eat and walk around with the ladies,” said Joyce Reibe.

Dennis Reibe’s last wish for the errant elk: "A long, long happy life."

The celebrity elk has inspired a motivational poster – something about persisting despite having a hammock wrapped around your antlers. And a local artist is making shirts and stickers and will donate some of the sales to the White Pass Country Historical Museum.

“So Hammock Head is actually raising some funds for the community,” said Dennis Reibe.

"And he doesn't even know it!” Joyce Reibe added.

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