Monday, March 8, 2010

Late Winter In Pennsylvania's Elk Range-Part 1

Late winter, and the bright glaring rays of the mid-day sun are almost blinding. While temperatures may be quite cold at night, they rebound to a great extent after sunrise and the snow cover shrinks rapidly. This is technically not good light for photography, yet I like to see photos of large herds of deer and elk taken under these conditions, as they portray that the end of bitter winter weather is near.

 Distant Herd Resting At Gilbert Viewing Area

Distant Herd Feeding On Recently Reclaimed Area: Gilbert Viewing Area

I was in Pennsylvania's Elk Country from Thursday afternoon until Sunday morning and had numerous encounters with the animals. At this time most interest is focused on the shedding of the antlers and "horn hunting". I heard reports of a few sightings of bulls that had already lost their antlers, but did not see any myself. The largest bulls usually shed first. It is possible to see large bulls with new antler growth, alongside raghorns, which still have last years antlers. During the next 2-3 weeks most of the antlers will be dropped.

Saturday morning found a bachelor group of young bulls feeding and sparring by Winslow Hill Road. One of the animals stood out above the rest and I took a portrait shot of him with a Canon 40-D and 500mmF4 lens.

An Outstanding Young Bull

This animal appears to have great potential and should grow a larger rack this year. The photograph was taken soon after sunrise resulting in much better colors than the first two photos, and of course there is no substitute for being reasonably close.

Stay tuned for more photos from the trip in the near future.

9 comments:

JimB said...

Nice looking portrait!

Good light and good composition

rlcphotos said...

nice photo Willard. I think I have one like it matter of fact we all probably do. It was good to meet you and the rest hope we can do it again soon.

Kritter Keeper said...

Awesome simply awesome Willard ! One of my bucks lost his antlers during feeding and for the life of me I still cannot find his 'horns'!

bobshank said...

Hi Willard! Great shot of that beautiful bull elk! Was there much activity up on the elk range? When I was there two weeks ago it was very quiet. I am sure things will pick up soon with the antler drop starting.

Bird Girl said...

Now that is one outstanding picture of your outstanding bull - wow!

Willard said...

Bob,

Things were fairly quiet on Thursday evening and Friday morning, but quite a few people showed up for the weekend and traffic was heavy on the hill (for winter) on Saturday evening.

Two different groups were seen frequently. They told us they were keeping a close eye on the bulls, in hopes of seeing them drop antlers.

Kekiinani said...

Hi Willard
Stopped by for my weekly Elk info and photo fix!!! I love your portrait shot. So this one will lose it's Antlers? Really? WOW that is amazing..They are soo beautiful Hmmmmmm.. I didnt know that. Well I actually dont know much at all about elk other than they are beautiful animals and what I have read on your site :) Which of course you know I totally enjoy.. Hope all is going well and your weather is starting to warm a bit. It has been cold, windy (very windy) and rainy here. Ok it has been down to 69 at night.. brrrrrr!! Had to bust out my jackets and sweaters :) :) Wishing you a great rest of the week. Aloha, Renee :)

HANNIBAL said...

What a gorgeous young bull! Good luck on finding sheds! It's tough to be there at the right time, or before someone else.

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

Beautiful photos and how exciting it must be to see the elk.