Along with filming and photographing calves, another primary objective of last weeks trip to Pennsylvania's Elk Range, was to record bulls in velvet.
Tuesday morning was foggy and partially overcast. I encountered a bachelor group of two bulls soon after dawn. Both mature whitetail bucks and bull elk spend most of the year traveling with other males. A notable exception is that yearling bulls and bucks will still be with their original family group in most cases. One may see large bulls and bucks in the same meadow, etc. with the family groups, but in most cases if one observes closely, they will find that they are in fact traveling separately and there is little interaction between the groups. But as we will find out in a future post, there are no hard and fast rules in nature and there are exceptions to every case.
This is an up and coming young Pennsylvania bull, which shows the potential to become one of the state's great bulls if he survives to maturity.
These bulls are "acclimated" to humans. Many use the word "habituated", but that seems to have a negative connotation, so I prefer the previous term. A primary problem in taking portraits of these animals is capturing them in an alert position as they are mostly feeding or walking from one food source to another. These bulls are usually found in downtown Benezette, but in this case I was lucky enough to find them in natural habitat.
The photograph below gives one an opportunity to study the point configuration on the larger animal in detail. This is a major tool in identifying an individual animal. Note the long and sweeping end of the left main beam and the configuration of the points on the rear portion of the right beam. While the number of points has varied, this bull has had the same basic shape to his antlers since 2007 when I first became aware of him. (He was a 6x6 then)