I did not see him during my winter visit to Elk County, but I finally found him in the parking lot of the maintenance building in Benezette on Thursday morning of last week.
In the following photograph one can see how old age has damaged his knees. He has had this problem for a few years and walks with a shuffle, but it was amazing to see him running like a young bull during the rut last fall.
Periodically someone tries to portray this animal as a wild elk that is a suitable candidate for a fair chase hunt. The following is a post that I originally made in December of 2007.
It's A Disease!
Of course it is not a high fenced bull, but it is completely tame and trusting to humans. This is bull number 36 or "Fred" as most call him. He has survived to date by remaining in the No Hunting Zone. This animal's tolerance range of humans can be measured in mere feet. "Fair Chase", I think not!
It totally gripes me, why people cannot enjoy seeing an impressive animal such as this without thinking about killing him. The video clip starts with a shot of another bull and then there is Fred chasing a cow. You can hear someone say," I think I could even hit him from here" Some one else says ,"Oh I could probably get one in him"
Above is a photograph of "Fred" in 2005 when he had a more perfect and perhaps larger rack. It would simply be murder to shoot this bull. I featured him in a previous post where he was shown with the rack that he had this fall and with his collar showing. In the picture above it was removed in Photoshop.
It would seem to me that even dedicated hunters would want to preserve at least a few of these monsters so that they could drive to the viewing areas and see what a true large bull looks like, but evidently some are not that far sighted. All they can think about is pulling the trigger or releasing the arrow.
I have been assured by a person who is on good terms with many of the elk guides that many of them have no interest in guiding a hunter to "Fred". In her words, "The person who kills Fred will be totally ostracized." I hope that is the case.
Since 1997 I have had him in numerous circumstances where I could have "put one in him", but I never had the slightest desire or thought of it. Instead I enjoyed observing this magnificent animal and obtaining photographs of him.
My experience is not unique. Most serious visitors to Winslow Hill have gotten close enough to him to"put one in him" on numerous occasions! Many specifically look for him when they travel to the elk range and are concerned about his welfare.
I think many would enjoy the outdoors and wildlife more if they could drop this total absorption with killing. They carry the obsession to the stage that it becomes a disease!