Alexey was looking for silhouettes on the horizon when he heard a branch snap behind him and he was turning and bringing up his shotgun when the elk slammed into him.
It was so large up close. It snorted, sending burst of fog into the cold air. He could hear the power of its lungs. It opened its mouth, revealing row after row of the teeth and fangs of many animals.
The elk bit into his leg and tugged, pulling him along the ground. It kept tugging until a piece of flesh was torn free, and lifted its head to chew.
Then Alexey was trying to remember what was happening. Why did his leg feel so strange? Everything came rushing back and he realized he had passed out. Much more of his leg was missing now, and he could see bone in several places, but there was no pain. He realized he was still gripping the shotgun.
Alexey struggled to lift the shotgun with one hand. He fired as soon as the barrel was pointed in the right direction. The recoil slammed the gun out of his hand and deafened him. The elk seemed unaffected, until blood began to flow from its thick matted fur. Then it resumed eating him, and he passed out again.