Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Late July Trip toPennsylvania,s Elk Range: Cow Elk and Calf Nursing

I left for Pennsylvania's Elk Range at noon on Monday and returned on Friday afternoon. The mission had two major purposes. One was to finalize some of the research I am doing for the Elk Video.

The secondary mission was to get footage of cows and calves, nursing. I did have a segment already inserted in the film, but was not particularly happy with it as the cow was wearing a collar. It rained on most days and if it wasn't raining the weather was mostly overcast with a few sunny periods. I did photograph and record some bulls and cows in early morning and late evenings, but I saw not one calf until Thursday morning and these didn't nurse.

The weather finally cleared late Thursday afternoon and miracle of miracles, I found a large herd of cows, calves, and young bulls with a mature bull lying some distance from them. I worked into a suitable position for the camcorder and mounted the 70-200mm f2.8 with 1.4x extender, which gave an effective focal length of 2,016mm. There were about five calves in the meadow. At first they were lying down, but as the sun descended in the western sky, one by one they searched out there mothers and began feeding. My persistence had paid off.

I took a few still shots along with the video, and while I was not nearly as close as I would have liked to be for the DSLR, the results were still acceptable. I used the 100-400mm rested over the camcorder body and of course utilized image stabilization.


Canon 30-D: 100-400 f5.6 L 1/200 sec. f5.6 ISO 400

At one point two small bulls engaged in a lengthy confrontation. At times they stood on their rear legs and clubbed each other. I especially liked the wild look in the eye of the larger bull in this shot.

Canon 30-D: 100-400 f5.6 L 1/320 sec. f8 ISO 400


At sundown the elk slowly drifted from the backcountry into a meadow closer to civilization. I brought up the rear, filming them as I went. They stopped to feed in a Game Commission food plot, which borders private property (the cabin is on private property quite close to the line). A smaller sub-group of elk cane from another area and joined the herd I followed there, and for a time the meadow was alive with elk.

Canon 30-D: 70-200mm f2.8 L at 70mm 1/100 sec. f2.8 ISO 800

All too soon, a perfect evening was over. There was a heavy fog on Friday morning. I did get to photograph some calves in a bottom near the river, but the light was not ideal and they didn't nurse.

I hope to post more photos from this trip soon.

For photos from other participants visit Mist Dawn.

35 comments:

ratmammy said...

These photos are amazing!

Indrani said...

You had a great time watching them, I could sense that. The way the mother is looking... you have captured it so well.

Dina said...

Willard, what can I say, YOU HAVE A GREAT LIFE!

fishing guy said...

Willard: A very special post with the mother and baby Elk. The two young bulls were also neat. My there is a herd of Elk in your area.

Carletta said...

Your patience certainly did pay off. These are awesome images.

I can only imagine living in that cabin and having that view of wildlife in front of me.

Great Camera Critters post!

Christy said...

Very nice images. I look forward to seeing more.

Crafty Gardener said...

Beautiful photos.
Stop by and visit The Gardener Side to see my bluejay photos for Camera Critters this week.

HFD60 said...

Willard, very well done. I can't wait to get up that way. Again, well done.

i beati said...

alive with elk !!wow Fantastic

Juliana RW said...

very great shots

Mine in here Thanks

Michele (Rocky Mtn.Girl) said...

Well, I thank you again for the splendid photos and the great documentary! Beautiful.
Mountain Retreat Photos

Abraham Lincoln said...

I thought you were sick or something as I had not seen anything for some time. Glad you are back in business and taking some excellent photos.

Kahshe Cottager said...

What wonderful photos! I have never seen elk in the wild - it must be thrilling!
Have a wonderful weekend! My Camera Critters Here and Here

Marie said...

Beautiful post!

Misty Dawn said...

WOW! This is absolutely outstanding and amazing! These are fantastic shots. That last shot takes my breath away! I would LOVE to see that in person.

The Birdlady said...

Willard, that ws a wonderful adventure! Thanks so much for sharing....the photos are great!

Lilli & Nevada said...

Oh my gosh these are great i love that first photo so touching and tender

babooshka said...

Wild animals in the wild are the best wildlife shots. Beautiful.

Kerri said...

Great shots Willard! And you have captured the "wildness" in the eye of that bull wonderfully! WOW!

Kekiinani said...

Hi Willard, Great post. I just love reading your posts and viewing your images.. I love the baby... How cute is that. The 2 fighting or playing is amazing. The herd of elk near the cabin is huge. I can not even imagine seeing that many animals in one spot. I tell you, I always look forward to your posts and photos since it is like taking an adventure. Glad you are well. Aloha, Renee :)

Ash said...

Amazing!

Texas Travelers said...

I enjoyed the chase and successful result.

Great photos and story.

Troy

lv2scpbk said...

That last shot sure does show alot of them. Great photos.

Gretchen said...

Beautiful photos! My Camera Critters from last week was from Benezette. No where near as nice as yours though!

B. Roan said...

Nice! I'm wondering how long you observed to get so many great shots.

For The People said...

You are unbelievable! I get a new surprise every time I come here.

Ladynred said...

These are great shots. I love the 1st and the 2nd shots: Sweet and tender loving!
Camera Critters

AppleDebbie said...

Wonderful photos... I really love the first photo of the mother with her calf. Amazing!

fishing guy said...

BTW: I left you a 2008 Award at my sight, accept it if you wish.

Travis said...

Great post..there is something at my blog for you. You may use it if you like.

DeeMom said...

Willard this is one amazing post

So wonderful to see the Mom and Baby PLUS the info...looking forward to more about your journey

Willard said...

In answer to b. roan and anyone else who is curious, I probably spent close to two hours with the herd of elk. I found them sometime between 6-7 pm and stayed with them until nearly dark.

Faye Pekas said...

Willard, I am so impressed with these elk shots. The nursing baby is priceless.

Thats quite a herd.

We have a large herd near here but we can't get near them to get photos.

Bradley Myers said...

Great photos and story as always Willard. You have talked me into it, in two weeks my family and I will be going to Bennezette for three days to observe the Elk. With any luck we will have good viewing and weather so I can share my photos with everyone.

After some scouting this past weekend it looks like I may get a few shots of some Franklin County black bear.

Keep up the great work, I really enjoy reading your site.

Louise said...

What a great trip and wonderful pictures. Thanks for sharing!