Sunday, March 23, 2008

Bull 57 A Case Study For An Expanded No Hunt Zone

On December 12, 2007, I posted “Elk Management in Pa. Where we should go from here! The basic premise of the article was that there should be a greatly increased NO HUNT ZONE-the boundaries to be determined by careful study but it should include at least 80% of Elk Hunt Zone 2, and a portion of ELK HUNT ZONE 8. This should be the minimum and more would be preferred!

We have discussed at times how too many of the mature bulls have been taken. It is often mentioned that bull elk may travel long distances, which makes it difficult to protect them by increasing the size of a No Hunt Zone. This point is true to a certain extent and a case in point is a monster known to many as “The Test Hill Bull”. He was taken in 2006 far away from Winslow Hill where he was frequently seen during the rut. It is true that an expanded no hunt zone would not have saved him.

There are several examples however of bulls that would have been saved by this proposal. These include up and coming young bulls that showed great potential and outstanding mature bulls.

An excellent example is bull number 57, which I first recorded and photographed in 2006. He frequented the meadows along Winslow Hill Road during the rut of 2006 and I had several encounters with him.

The most notable was on a rainy evening, in late September. There was heavy rain that afternoon, but the elk still appeared in a meadow just up the ridge from Youngmark Road. In time the rain stopped and the meadow exploded with rutting activity. Bull 57 soon appeared and walked toward the road, which was lined with tourists. He proceeded past them and went to a nearby apple tree, shook his antlers in the branches to dislodge apples, and proceeded to eat several.

“Lammy Wheeler”, a respected local elk enthusiast was sitting in his truck only a short distance from the bull and either photographed or videotaped him.

Lammy Wheeler and Bull 57: Sony HVR-A1u Camcorder:

Soon the animal walked past the tourists again and roared a challenge at other bulls that were in the center of the meadow, bugling, and chasing cows.

Bull 57 Challenges a Distant Bull: Sony HVR-A1u Camcorder:

He avoided the largest bull there, but became involved in a sparring match with a smaller bull, which lasted ten minutes or more.

Bull 57 and Raghorn Sparring:Sony HVR-A1u Camcorder:

Bull 57 Bugling: Canon 10-D 500mmF4

Bull 57 in 2007: Photo by Billie Cromwell
Canon 30-D: 100-400mmIS

He would best be classified as a young bull with great potential, as he had a much larger rack in 2007. I had no chance to record him that year as I only saw him once at the Gilbert Viewing Area and it was too late for either stills or video. Billie Cromwell did get to photograph him early one morning in the same meadow where I recorded him in 2006. He was not able to get a facing shot as the bull was focused on feeding, but Billie and others said the spread was much larger than last year.

According to reports he spent quite a bit of time at Dent’s Run in 2007. He went to Winslow Hill for a period during the rut, but then returned to the Dent’s Run Area where he was taken on the second morning of elk season. The area he was taken in, was in Elk Hunt Zone 2.


Old Wom Tigley said...

Hi Willard.
Again I feel so sad at the loss of such an animal as this.
Peters friend 'Lee' who as you know is a Game Keeper' on a large private estate in Scotland is also a 'Deer Stalker'. The deer are stalked by Lee and paying guests on the Lords land. The only deer to be shot are the ones at the Stalkers say so. These stalkers know the herd, and can reconise and know the local stock. This way fine animals can pass their genes on and make for better stronger animals and herds. Hunter take the older weaker bulls and any that are showing signs of injury or weakness. The hurds can only get weaker if these big powerful bulls are taken. The other thing I must add is the deer that get shot are also skinned, taken to a butcher and put in the game larder for later use.

The areas are all open to the hunters, but not all the animals.

Marvin said...

To put it bluntly, I don't see how anyone with a brain could not agree with what Tom wrote. I'm not opposed to hunting. I understand the need to thin herds. However, what you've described sounds like the worst form of "herd management" possible.

Also, I cannot understand what the hunters get out of this kind of trophy killing.

Andrea said...

Sad....although I would hate to meet this creature face to face, this is not right.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Tom!
And your post is very good and well written.
Great photos too.

Still thinking abut that ... people sometimes seem to have there brain frozen!

Anonymous said...

I am really against hunting unless it is needed for food. I don't agree with "sportsmen" and their backers who make ammunition and firearms specifically for that purpose. It seems like an inhumane thing to do to me.

But then you already knew that.

Have a nice week.

Abraham Lincoln in Brookville, Ohio

Kerri said...

Absolutely wonderful shots of a magnificent creature! How sad that he was taken!

fishing guy said...

Willard: What a magnificent animal. I'm glad you were able to record and tell his story.
I added a link to your and Salty's sights on mine.

Travis said...

What a story. Thanks for sharing.

DeeMom said...

WOW Willard, amazing photos…just to have been there to see the sparing LIVE would be tremendous Wow what a beautiful animal he was…

Thanks for popping onto my post about the Bird ID...

I had my Sweetie look at the pictures I took along with what I had Googled, plus the Audubon Book and we think it is the Rufous-sided Towhee - Pipilo erythrophthalmus.

The clincher was the eye; the Rufous has the dark eyes while the other Towhee has a yellow eye. BUT all that withstanding, I need to get better pictures to be sure. Thank you for your input Willard


Greats photos!

Look this nonsense!



imac said...

Im also with Tom(thanks Tom lol)
Willard, you have a way with your satories and photos, to make them enjoyable to read.

Anonymous said...

I read that Ash said she got your camera. I just assumed you had another. Well, good luck with the new one. It should be about everything you dreamed of getting I would guess.

There is a place in Columbus, Ohio where a friend has bought the best stuff Nikon makes, all used, and gets to try it out first and then buys.

I never bought anything from them but I have seen her equipment and it is amazing. She lives in Columbus so can get to the shop and look at the stuff.

You might take a look.

My new Canon XSi won't get here until about May 1, 2008. I did get a new 55-250mm telephoto zoom with f5.6 to use with it as it has Image Stablilization in the lens. The other lens 75-200mmIS white lens f4 lens is great but weighs a ton and while it also has IS, when I add the extender 1.4 then the f stop goes down to 5.6 so I thought this new Canon lens would be a little longer and not so heavy.

It came today. Am trying it out.

Abraham on Wednesday

Gretchen said...

Thank you for the gorgeous shots. I always love to come here and see what treat you've left.

For the hunting, I'm torn. I grew up around it and understand the need to hunt for food. We never had heads mounted on the walls. Whatever Dad shot, we ate.

I also understand the other side that these elk are pretty tame. I know when I'm in Benezette, it's possible to get within feet of these giants. Not much of a challenge. I know many of the people are just there for the impressive mounts they'll have.

I can't make myself the judge and jury though. We all have to look in our hearts and decide what's right and wrong. I can't force my beliefs on another.

Salty said...

When one considers trophy hunting it is difficult to justify biologically.

The theory goes that by the time a prime animal becomes a trophy that it has already had a number of years to pass on its superior genes, however if the trophy were allowed to live until it has passed its prime it most likely would sire many more offspring and would no longer be a desirable trophy.

In the long run trophy hunting would seem to have a detrimental effect on the gene pool, particularly in a small herd such as this.

Tom said...

Hi Williard, what a great blog you have here. I dropped in from Abe Lincoln's bird blog. I'm thinking that I'll be adding you to my reader. I really aspire to be a wildlife photographer (I work for a large governmental agency charged with managing nat. res. in Ohio), just got back from Florida and shot there with my first L lens, a rental 400 5.6 Thanks for posting which cameras and lenses you used for each shot!

Also- Cool that you have elk in PA! None here in Ohio.

Tom @ Ohio Nature

Photolong said...

hi just passing through looking at photo blogs have some lovely photos ... i love the bird photos .. as most of my photos are birds and animals ... i must come back again and see more

Stacey Huston said...

Willard, Beautiful photos and very informative. Your scenery and elk are so strange for me to see, since I am used to seeing them in our mountain surroundings here.. Thanks for sharing.