Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Spring Morning On Winslow Hill-Elk In Velvet


Maple Leaves: Canon 40-D- 500mmF4 1/60 sec.- f 11 ISO 200

Early May and Pennsylvania’s Northwoods is bursting with life, as the tender new leaves appear. At this time the two major events in the life cycle of the elk are the growth of the new antlers and the shedding of the winter coat. Last years rack is ordinarily shed in a period ranging from early March to late April, with the larger bulls losing the antlers first. It is common to see them with substantial new growth while many of the younger bulls have not yet shed.

I consider this to be the best photograph of a bull from my recent early May excursion to Winslow Hill as I found him in a woodland setting and he was illuminated by beautiful, early morning sunshine. This animal has the potential to grow an exceptional rack!

The thin, reddish hair of the summer coat replaces the winter coat. This process happens over a long period of time and the elk is disheveled or ragged looking until shedding is complete.


4x5 Bull Elk: Canon 40D-500mmF4 1/350 sec.-f 5.6 ISO 200



Velvet Covered Antler: Canon 40D-500mmF4 1/180 sec.-f 4 ISO 400
The antlers are covered with a network of tissue and blood vessels that is soft and fuzzy to the touch and reminds one of velvet cloth; hence the descriptive name “velvet”. This supplies nourishment to the growing antlers. This is the difference between horns and antlers. Horns receive nourishment from the core, while antlers receive it from the covering. An antlered animal in this stage of development is known as “being in velvet”. Elk shed the velvet in early to mid-August, after antler growth is complete.

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23 comments:

Texas Travelers said...

Great photos. Enjoyed all the posts.
Really nice work.

Come visit my critters,
Troy

ratmammy said...

As always you have such beautiful photos!

fishing guy said...

Willard: Amazing capture, this fellow looks like he is going to be massive.

Tammy said...

Wow, amazing photos! Are they dangerous to get close to like moose are?

Willard said...

Tammy,
Pennsylvania Elk are not dangerous in most cases except that one wants to exercise caution around the bulls during the mating season, or rut in September and even then most will not threaten a human, but it pays to show them plenty of respect and keep a safe distance.

i beati said...

fabulous photography

Me & my puppies said...

wonderful photos ~ with three dogs I completely understand the shedding thing

~TAMY 3 Sides of Crazy~ said...

great shots!

AppleDebbie said...

What a magnificent elk! Great photos!

Anna said...

I really enjoyed your photos. I loved learning about the elk and his antlers.

Misty Dawn said...

AWESOME! I would truly love to see these in person! I must admit that I feel like a real dummy because I didn't realize there were elk in PA. My step-daughters live in PA, and we lived in Ohio until this past June.

Carletta said...

Awesome indeed!

I've looked around your blog - excellent body of work.

babooshka said...

Beautiful images.

Old Wom Tigley said...

Fantastic informative post Willard. I hope we get to see more of this animal in the years ahead.

lv2scpbk said...

Love the light shining on the leaves.

Sharon said...

A great shot of this fellow. I liked the closeup of the antler as well. Another great post!

Skittles said...

Fantastic.. beautiful!

Lilli & Nevada said...

what an amazing shot

Jim said...

Hi Willard,

You have some great photos here documenting the quality of Canon's 500mm f/4 L lens. Amazing resolution (and a testament to a great tripod to boot)!

The maple leaves blew me away, but when I saw the fuzz on the velvet I was really impressed.

I'd kindly suggest that you never let go of your copy of that lens. What a great activity you and your friend have in documenting the Elk herd. I really enjoy reading all your posts about the history and people involved...its a great education.

Take care,
Jim

Rhea said...

Awesome antlers. What a majestic looking bull elk! We don't have those around here in Texas. We have lots of deer...and I tell you, your elk look like deer on steriods. lol Too cool! Thanks for sharing!

Andrée said...

Just beautiful. I love the information. the elk are so magnificent an animal.

http://meeyauw-pad.blogspot.com/2008/05/camera-critters-white-tailed-deer.html

Abraham Lincoln said...

These animals are just gorgeous to me. I like your photos of them and these velvet covered antlers are really nice to see.

Dina said...

Thank you for the good explanation. Now I know.