Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pennsylvania Elk-The Velvet Is Shed: 2010

In last week's Camera Critters, I posted photos from years past of Pennsylvania Bull Elk in various stages of the velvet shedding process.  This was in anticipation of an upcoming trip to Pennsylvania Elk Country this past week.

Two of the bulls that I photographed this week served to illustrate the point that there are no hard and fast rules in nature.  In last week's post I stated , "once the process begins, it is usually completed in a day or so", but the most commonly seen bulls this week were clear exceptions to the rule.

This first animal featured today had a small strip of loose velvet dangling from one antler and small blood spots throughout the velvet, when I sighted him on Tuesday morning. The small strip of loose velvet was gone by that evening, but little else was changed.  I saw him several times during the trip and when I photographed him for the final time on Friday morning he looked much the same as he did at the time of my first encounter with him..

6x6 Bull In Early Stages Of Shedding Velvet

In most cases, once the velvet cracks and dangles in strips, the bulls rub trees, saplings, and the ground in an effort to dislodge it, but the largest bull I photographed seemed to have an aversion to doing this as he had long strips of dried velvet dangling from his antlers throughout the week.  I was around him for extensive periods of time on several occasions, but not once did he rub his antlers against anything.

Dried Velvet Hanging In Strips
While the long range forecast for the trip, called for hot and humid weather with a lot of clouds and showers, it actually turned out to be clear and beautiful much of the time, with only fluffy white cumulus clouds in the sky, which resulted in some spectacular sunsets and I can think of few better ways to end a day afield than by photographing the fiery show that nature provides as the sun drops below the horizon.

Elk Country Sunset

For more Camera Critters photographs, Click Here!

Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill


CherylK said...

What magnificent animals they are, Willard, and I really enjoyed reading about the velvet shedding process. Had no idea.

I'm in total agreement with you about the sunsets. You've captured a gorgeous one here.

JimB said...


Looks like you had a successful trip this week. Nice shots


Living In Williamsburg Virginia said...

Again, fantastic photos. The shedding velvet makes the photo more dramatic.

Darryl and Ruth : )

Poetic Shutterbug said...

Magnificent capture and great information as well. Thanks for sharing.

srp said...

Just beautiful, both the sunset and the majestic elk!

Denise said...

Elks are such magnificent animals and I enjoy not only seeing your photos, which are always fantastic, but I also enjoy learning about them. Thanks always!
An English Girl Rambles

EG Wow said...

Thanks for showing us that not everything is predictable. I guess the looks velvet didn't bother the bottom elk!

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

That last bull is a massive animal.I love the sunset,so rich.

lv2scpbk said...

Wonderful shots and I bet it's great watching them.

Misty Dawn said...

Awesome post! I learn so much from you, and your photos are breathtaking.