Saturday, November 24, 2007

Male Cardinal On A Frosty Morning

Since most of the hunting community is away in deer camp, I decided to post a few miscellaneous wildlife and bird shots for the next few days, before pursuing the series on the elk further.

Cardinals are one of my favorite birds and they are visiting my feeding station on a regular basis and in increasing numbers. "Salty" has been shooting some at the same spot and is getting more material than I am. If you haven't done so already, be sure to check his site out. I know he has a superb shot of a nuthatch which he will likely post in the near future if he hasn't already.

Canon 40D 500mmF4/cropped severely-ISO 500

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pennsylvania Elk Hunt: The Check Station Part II

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Display
John "Lamie" Wehler in foreground

I was talking to noted elk enthusiast John “Lammy” Wheeler when another successful party arrived.

The guide was Scott Rhodes from Alexandria, Pennsylvania. He appears to be affiliated with Lone Pine Outfitters. He was the driver of the truck, which was parked in the Game Commission parking lot on Tuesday. He was guiding Mike Stone from New York State.

According to Rhodes, they hunted hard all day and about 4:00 p.m. came on two bulls and some cows in the edge of the woods from a food plot. It seemed likely if they waited that the elk would go in the plot, but they didn’t take that chance. As I understand it they had to shift position to get a shot at the larger bull. The stalk was successful and they killed a 6x6. I first I thought this was likely the bull that I recorded at The Gilbert" on Tuesday morning, as he left the meadow headed in the direction of the reclaimed area, but when I analyzed the video it turned out that the bull in the viewing area was a 7x6 . (see previous posting)

The hunt was filmed by Jereme Thaxton and will be aired on Elk Country Journal, a program produced by The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation .

Guide and Cameraman

6x6 Bull

I am reasonably certain as to where they killed the bull as the guide said it was in the woods near the newly reclaimed strip mine and that there was a pond just inside the woods. This was the same area that I watched on Sunday and Monday evenings, but it was out of sight of the place I was positioned. This is a vast opening with a large clump of trees in the center. I would have had to been in a different spot to have observed Tuesday evenings happenings. Had I been in the area, it is still doubtful that I would have seen the kill take place.

Area where bull was taken

This is a photograph of the area where the elk was taken. This shot was taken in August and is a panoramic view made by joining two pictures, with no attempt at blending them together. It did not seem possible to do it well as there is a bit of terrain in the center that is not included in either shot. It does give a reasonable idea of the area we are discussing. The pond is a short distance inside the woods and near or slightly to the left of the sharp point in the center of the picture.

Pond Inside Woods-Nov. 4, 2007

If one visits the Lone Pine Outfitters website they can see the food plot in the background in the shot where Rhodes, and Stone pose with the dead bull.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Elk Hunt: Wednesday-The Check Station

Wednesday came in cold and windy with intermittent snow showers. This was my last morning to be in the elk range during the hunting season. The Gilbert Viewing area was devoid of elk.

"The Gilbert"
Winter Had Arrived!

I had mixed feelings about visiting the elk check station located at DCNR headquarters for the Moshannnon State Forest, which is located along the Quehanna Highway, but if one wishes to understand the hunt it seemed essential to stop by!

DCNR Headquarters

I took photos of the situation and was ready to leave when an officer informed me that it would be in my best interest to linger awhile as a possible world record bull was coming in soon. A word to the wise is sufficient and in time a large group of people arrived with what proved to be the largest bull taken during the season.

Guides: Brady Schrecongost, Jack Manack,and Tim Harvey

Tim Harvey, Dennis Henry, Brady Schrecongost

The hunter was Dennis Henry of Greensburg, Pa. The guides were Brady Schrecongost and Tim Harvey who were associated with Elk County Outfitters. The situation as I understand it is that guides are required to be insured. The insurance is quite expensive so several guiding services have associated with Elk County Outfitters for insurance purposes, although they actually conduct their own independent guiding service in the field. Jack Manack of Mt. Pleasant Pennsylvania is the owner of Elk County Outfitters.

At first I did not plan on posting any photographs of the elk that were killed, but I later decided to do so. Unpleasant as it will be to many, it is the reality of the situation! One thing was certain there was no regret among the members of the hunting party and most at the check station.

We will show more scenes from the check station in a future post, and eventually analyze the situation as I see it!

I would much prefer to post beautiful photographs of wildlife going about their daily activity, but this is an issue, which I have studied and reflected on since the first hunt in 2001. I do have deeply held convictions on the issue, which I would like to share when the proper foundation has been laid.