On another occasion, a wildlife officer I knew well told me about an aerial survey he had done to identify hunting pressure and hunter distribution on opening day of elk season. He was amazed to see a huge herd of elk running out of the high country. From the airplane, he watched the herd run into the desert, where no one would bother to hunt. Obviously, elk are not exclusively imprinted on mountain country, but will go wherever they feel secure, provided there's adequate forage, cover and water. In the desert, they'll find shelter in patches of brush.