The Digest features a stunning cover photo of the character bull, "Uncle Bob" a superb 7x8 that was killed near Weedville in the 2012 elk season. The photo was taken by PGC Wildlife Conservation Specialist Hal Korber during the rut last year. It appears to be taken in "The Saddle" and the bull is silhouetted against the setting sun. I do not have a photograph of the bull that is anywhere near the quality of the one taken by Mr. Korber, but I am posting one of mine to show the bull being discussed.
|A Photo of "Uncle Bob" taken by me during the 2012 Rut|
Another item of interest is the appointment of the new PGC biologist, Jeremy Banfield, as we discussed in the May 22nd post on this blog, which is based around PGC News Release #035-13.
Pennsylvania Outdoor News featured an article by Southwest Correspondent, Deborah Weisberg titled "New biologist brings elk wisdom from Montana in the June 21, 2013 issue. The article gives some interesting insights into his views and how we can expect them to impact on elk management.
The following quotes by Banfield as reported by Weisberg are of special note:
Like most hunters and those in the hunting industry, Banfield eschews any close human to wildlife contact. "People should not approach or touch the elk," he said.
He makes it clear that he works for the hunter.
"It's nice for urban people to come up and see the elk, and there are no-harvest zones in the viewing areas", he said, "but that doesn't get in my way. Game (Commission) doesn't have much to do with the tourism aspect."
Because of his position, Banfield won't be hunting either. "It would be a conflict of interest," he siad.
But I'm an outdoorsman and I"ll be targeting everything else. My first passion is trapping, I trap beaver, muskrat, fox, and coyote. This year, I'll be after fisher and bobcat.
He Also looks forward to bow-hunting white-tailed deer, and predator calling. "I hunt turkeys, geese and ducks and small game."
I emphasize the above material is brief excerpts from the article as written by Ms.Weisberg, while what follows is my thoughts on the interview. I recommend that you get a copy of Pennsylvania Outdoor News and read the article in its' entirety.
In reference to his first statement, it is hard to disagree with the gist of Banfield's statement about close human/wildlife contact as someone is always willing to carry things too far with potentially disastrous results, but when examined in detail it does raise legitimate concerns is about just what is an acceptable range to be from elk. Is approaching from 200 yards to 100 yards acceptable? What about 100 yards to 50 yards? Why is it acceptable to approach wildlife to bow range to kill it, but not acceptable to approach it to a reasonably safe range to photograph it? Will more and more elk viewing/photography be at unacceptably long range such as it is now at the Dent's Run Viewing Area?
|Dents Run Viewing Area-Viewing Is At Extreme Range|
At this point it is not fair to be too critical of Mr. Banfield, as after all this is essentially a get acquainted article in a newspaper that is geared toward hunters and fishermen, so he is preaching to the choir so as to speak. It is to be expected that he assure the readers that he is much like them and has many of the same beliefs and goals.
At the same time it is perfectly reasonable for the elk watcher/photographer to be somewhat apprehensive about the future of quality elk viewing. As I have pointed out repeatedly there is too much pressure directed at the bulls that visit the viewing areas on Winslow Hill and while there are more elk now at any time since the reintroduction, it seems there are less of the top tier ones on Winslow Hill. Is the time coming that a young bull like the one shown below will be considered to be a "big bull'.
|4x4 Bull On Winslow Hill: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 500mm f4-ISO 400-1/640 sec. f4.5|
About the title of the post.
* "The Saddle" is a well known spot in Pennsylvania Elk Country for which one may view a vast expanse of the elk range. I like to sit at the apex of "The Saddle" and enjoy the view, think about wildlife management issues, recall glorious times afield in days gone by, and anticipate hopefully more days to come. As a result, I have decided to use "View From The Saddle" as a general title for posts which give my thoughts on elk management and other issues impacting wildlife photography and viewing in the elk range.
Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.