Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dr. Perk-A Controversial Figure

I first went to Winslow Hill to videotape the elk in 1995

At that time The Gilbert Viewing Area did not exist. The land was still owned by Kenny Gilbert, the farmer for which the viewing area was named. The fields were much as they are today except that no crops were planted to attract the wildlife. At times portions of the meadows were mowed. This area was the hotspot for observing large numbers of elk, several of which were monster bulls.
There was no elk hunt, and there was little talk of one.

A white frame house was located on a small parcel of land in a hollow. This was to the left of what is now known as Dewey Road-the public road, which passes through The Gilbert Viewing Area.

Dr. Perk's House: The cabin to the right was not there in 1995

This was home to Claude M. Nye. Mr. Nye was deeply interested in the elk herd and loved to videotape the animal. He initially used a VHS camcorder. Each year he made a tape of what he saw and offered it to the public for a modest price.

He portrayed himself as an elk expert and called himself "Dr. Perk". This aroused the ire of Rawland ‘Rawley’ Cogan who was the PGC elk biologist at the time and the two became enemies. Perk’s expertise was not biological in nature, nor did he portray it to be. He attracted elk to his property by feeding them and soon had a herd of “habituated” elk that visited each day. By his daily observations he was eventually able to differentiate between individual animals and named most of them. He would tell someone what day, hour, and minute an animal was born.

At the time I thought that this could not be. It was possible to distinguish bulls because of the different antler configurations, but there was no way he could distinguish individual cows.

In time I found that I was wrong. A day came that I could distinguish individual antlerless deer under certain circumstances and I had to eat my words! Now you are saying that I am nuts, but stop and think! Can a farmer differentiate between individual animals in his herd? Can you tell your pet cat or dog from every other dog of the same type out there? One only has to spend a large amount of time around the same group of animals and observe them closely. Soon one notices the differences rather than just the similarities. I do think that he was guessing about the hour and minute of birth in many cases.

1995; Dr. Perk explaining how antlers are shed

Dr. Perk: Second from left in blue jacket

During mating season or “The Rut” as it is normally called, the herd of “habituated” cows that frequented his lawn, brought monster bulls to the area in large numbers.

Dr. Perk was on a collision course with The Pennsylvania Game Commission!

Note: Above photos except Mr. Nye’s residence are frame captures from an S/VHS camcorder as this is from a period when I did not take still photos.


Anonymous said...

Interesting story and nice photos with it.

Tina Leigh said...

Why did they get mad at the guy? It was his land why couldnt he do what he wanted?

Kerri Farley said...

It sounds like he really LOVED the elk.

Is he no longer around??

lv2scpbk said...

Interesting story. It was nice with the photos with it.

Willard said...


I'll explain further in the next post, but in their eyes he was habituating elk and his operation was not compatible with their plans.

Willard said...

We'll learn his fate soon.

Tom said...

More more... ;o)
I have missed being here Willard... it seemsa lot longer than it was. This is very interesting.. and I look forward to learning more.

Great work Willard.

imac said...

This sounds interesting---
Photos good too.

My walk continues

Tina Leigh said...

Willard come on & tell us the rest of the story!