Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ronald Saffer's Last Portrait of Fred-Bull 36

After learning of Bull 36's death over the weekend, Ronald "Buckwheat" Saffer, Pennsylvania's premier elk photographer, called to discuss his death and his relationship with this animal over the years.  He was one of Saffer's favorite subjects until later in his life, when he began spending most of his time in Benezette and achieved lasting fame as the Benezette town bull.  Buckwheat specializes in photographing exceptional bulls in natural environments and after Fred moved to town so as to speak, he did not encounter him nearly as often, although he still photographed him if he found him on Winslow Hill in a natural setting.  He has graciously agreed to share the last professional portrait that he took of him during the rut this autumn.

Bull 36 At Dudley Property-Along Winslow Hill Road: Photo courtesy of Ronald Saffer
Many were concerned that Fred would be shot during the first few years of the hunt, as he was often found in Hunt Zone 2 during the rut and it seemed possible that he could linger too long in that area and be caught by the opening of elk season.  Also there were rumors of plots to drive him from the No Hunt Zone into the Hunt Zone, but  that never happened.

Some were still talking about shooting him as late as 2007, when he was featured on King's Outdoor World, The article features two still pictures and a video clip titled "What Does This Elk Score?" The following is a quote from that page:

"This bull is a herd bull that is a result of transplanted elk to the east to help build up the herd years ago and therefore has a radio collar on its neck as wildlife authorities keep a close eye on the herd. Don’t let that make you think that it is a high fenced bull. This is a fair chase bull that a lucky hunter could very well get this year through their lottery draw."

The video clip starts with a shot of another bull and then there is Fred chasing a cow. You can hear someone say," I think I could even hit him from here" Some one else says ,"Oh I could probably get one in him"

As it turned out, no one "got one in him" and he lived a long life , bringing pleasure to thousands upon thousands of people. Sadly, unless the current system changes, there is not likely to be another that can survive to attain his status, as his most likely heir apparent was killed during season this year, and it seems that most bulls are now killed within a year or so of attaining trophy status.

Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill


V.L. Locey said...

Beautiful picture Willard, thanks for sharing!

Coy Hill said...

Sure they could "have got one in him", anyone could have. Ending his life early would have denied thousands of people the enjoyment of seeing Fred, the greatest tourist attraction Benezette had to offer.

None will be allowed to follow in his foot steps unless the current farce called the elk hunt is changed to actually protect the tame elk in and around the Benezette'Winslow Hill tourist area.

Anonymous said...

Very well done, Willard! Very well said. It is sad to think that Fred's offspring are out there and, if something does not change, they will all be killed long before they reach the age Fred was when he passed away.

Coy - wonderful comment, I agree with you 100%.

Very nice photo of our buddy in his natural environment. Please thank Mr. Saffer for sharing it with us.

Kritter Keeper at Farm Tails said...

i am glad you were able to get this photograph, willard. wondering if you have a young one to compare? maybe when he was 5 or so. i hope they will honor him and display him at the center.

Willard said...

Kritter Keeper,

The youngest still photograph of him that I have access to is the one in the previous post that Ron Saffer took in 1998 when he has the dog leash in the antlers. I took some video of him in 1997 and a lot in 1998, but no stills. I'll have to see if Ron has any older ones.

Ritchie said...

Hi friends,

So nice photo of Ronald Saffer! Thanks for sharing it.
Wildlife Photographer