Friday, November 16, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Tuesday came in with light showers and a strong wind from the northwest, which made it brutally cold. I originally intended to spend the day in the backcountry, but re-thought my strategy. What was I going to prove anyway? I likely wouldn’t see anything considering the weather conditions. It seemed likely that I could get a better handle on the hunt by driving the road and checking strategic areas.
To my surprise a herd of elk was at The Gilbert Viewing Area and one of them was a 7x6 bull. I videotaped him at long range with the XL-H1 and 300mmF4 lens. I forgot to take a shot with the card camera function so the picture, which you see, was captured to the memory card by playing the tape back in the camera. This meadow is in the No Hunting Zone.
I found a pickup parked in a nearby Pa. Game Commission parking lot, so it was obvious that someone was hunting the reclaimed strip mine area. The truck was still there at dark.
I drove several back roads and quickly found that there was little hunting pressure, but closer consideration made me realize that with 40 hunters out there and some of them assigned to other areas, that one was unlikely to see a large number of hunters in any given area. It may have looked like nothing was happening, but this was far from the truth. In fact the process was quite deadly.
Most hunters hire a guide although the law does not require their services. It is a problem if one kills an elk and has no method to retrieve it from far back in the woods. A guide solves this problem quite nicely. Also, if one is not familiar with the area it may be difficult to locate the elk. The better guides are deadly at finding large bulls, locating where they feed and sleep, and putting them in the sights of the hunter’s rifle, and that is exactly what happened in many cases.
Hunters must report their kill to Game Commission authorities and must mark the site of the kill and a path leading to it. Each kill sight is numbered. I do not know for sure, but I assume it is the elk license number. I found a kill site marking along Dent’s Run Road where the Elk Trail leads to a complex of meadows known as Bear Hollow.
Note tag on post-a trail of orange ribbons leads from there to kill site
It didn’t seem that a lot happened in the past two days, but I was to find out on Wednesday that this was not the case. Stay tuned for more reporting.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
In mid-afternoon two groups of hunters arrived in rapid succession and one group went directly into the area where the 6x6 was staying. There was no shooting which could mean that he had moved to another area, the hunter had a cow permit, or he was holding out for a larger bull.
You will notice that there is more than one person in these parties. Many, if not most hunters hire a guide, and they are also permitted by law to take as many people as they desire with them to observe the hunt and assist with handling an animal after it is taken. These people are required to wear blaze orange, but they are not required to have a hunting license and they may not carry a firearm or herd or drive elk to the hunter. Only the shooter must have a valid hunting license and elk permit.
Other points to consider are: 1. If one disturbs animals before the hunt to make them more wary, they can be arrested for harassing or disturbing wildlife. 2. If they purposefully frighten the animal during the hunt to prevent its’ taking, they can be charged with interfering with a lawful hunt.
I was using my Canon XL-H1 High Definition video camera in this case with the Canon 300mmF4 attached. When a Canon 35mm lens is attached to this camera it increases the power of the lens by a factor of 7.2 so that the lens is in fact the equivalent of 2,160mm.
The downside is that it gives a dismal image in poor light and one may not crop it to a great extent (in card camera mode). This camcorder delivers superb video which can be bettered only by cameras in the $30-100,000.oo price range, but it is a lackluster performer as a still camera, with most any point and shoot camera being able to deliver a better still image. They cannot: however, deliver detail at the extreme ranges that this camera can. Gaussian Blur was applied to the faces so the individuals are not readily recognizable.
Scouting for the next days' hunt?
The elk was here when the fog was too thick to see well
In time the fog lifted revealing a beautiful autumn morning.
After taking a series of photographs of the area ,I walked to the reclaimed strip mine without spotting one hunter, but that situation was going to change. There was no doubt that hunters were in the area.