Saturday, October 23, 2010

Camera Critters: Photos From Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area

Here are a few photos from a trip to Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area near Klinefeltersville, Pennsylvania, which were taken recently on a beautiful autumn morning.

The first two photos are of a Great Blue Heron, which was taken at long range with the 500mmF4 and the 2x extender.

Great Blue Heron Fishing

The heron alternated between periods of standing still looking for fish swimming nearby, and stalking slowly along the pond bank.  At time he tried to spear his prey with his long bill.   I was able to film this activity, but did not get a still photograph of him attacking.

Wading In Search Of Prey

It was a special treat to sight three River Otters, but unfortunately I was not able to get close-up photographs of them.  Still, I was thrilled as this is the first I have photographed or filmed them except I did film the release of River Otters when they were re-introduced into the Juniata River near Everett, Pennsylvania in 2002, whileI was working for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

A Rare Sighting Of River Otters

For more Camera Critters photos, click Here!

Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pennsylvania Elk Season Nears-Special Conservation Tag Hunt Ends

Pennsylvania's elk season will be held from Monday November 1 to Saturday November 6th, with an extended season being held the following week. Hunters in possession of a valid elk license with an unfilled antlered or antlerless tag will be permitted to hunt in any area outside of the Elk Management Area. This is to help prevent the spreading of the elk herd into areas where the PGC believes the potential for significant elk-human conflict may occur. Seventeen bull tags were issued, plus the Special Conservation tag for a total of 18 bull tags and 33 antlerless tags

Acclimated Bull Elk Near Hunt Zone 2 Boundary

The last day for the Special Conservation Tag Hunt is November 6th, but it appears that the hunter was successful and as there is only one Special Conservation Tag issued per year, that season is effectively over. According to an unconfirmed report, "the gentleman with the Governor tag allegedly wounded a extremely large bull last week and they hunted for it for two days and did not find it-so he shot a 6x6 that scored about 340 inches." At the time that we saw the Conservation Tag hunter, he was hunting with a bow, but we have received no information as to what weapon or weapons he was using in the incidents related above.

As a follow up to the story "An Unpleasant Encounter In Pennsylvania Elk Country", sometime after our encounter with the hunter and guide on Wednesday morning September 29th, I spoke to a gentleman who was in the same area on the previous evening (Tuesday Sept. 28) He was walking along the brow of the hill looking for elk when he noticed a strange colored object on the hillside below him and glassed the area with his binoculars. He found himself looking at two persons, one of which was armed with a bow. They were wearing camouflage clothing, but the colored fletching on the arrows in the bow quiver had attracted his attention. He approached them and asked if they were the Governor's Conservation Tag hunting party and they indicated they were. According to this person, the hunter had just passed up a shot at a large bull because conditions were too windy for accurate archery shooting under the circumstances.

My party was nearby at the time and  we were headed for the spot on the pond bank where the confrontation was to occur on the next day, but we saw a large bull come from that area and cross the top of the hill in front of us.  It seems likely that this is the bull the person was talking about.

Mature Bull Crossing Reclaimed Area: Photo by W.Hill
View Of Area Where Encounters Occurred From Winslow Hill Road: Photo by W.Hill
After photographing and filming the animal, we decided to go in another direction as there was no bugling coming from the area of the pond. As it turned out the large bull we saw went to the Gilbert Viewing Area as did most of the elk in the area that evening, while we went into another back country area and found no elk until we returned to the parking lot near the Gilbert Viewing Area.

This leaves one to ponder why the hunting party did not take exception to the other person walking up to them and talking on Tuesday evening, when it was unacceptable for us to be in the area on the following morning.  Also had we gone where we originally intended on Tuesday evening, would a confrontation have occurred then?

Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill