Saturday, October 8, 2011

"Limpy" The Bull That Roars: A Close Look At A Mature Pennsylvania Bull

7x7 known as "Limpy" Roars
It was one of those perfect evenings on Winslow Hill during the rut of 2009 as several small and medium sized bulls ranged a meadow in pursuit of cows. As the sun dropped low on the western horizon the air was tinged with a pleasant coolness, which hinted of cold frosty nights to come.  For a time  many other photographers and elk watchers enjoyed the evening, but they left as the sun dropped below the horizon and I found myself alone with the elk.  I had almost decided to leave too, but there was a lot of bugling coming from the edge of the woods nearby and I decided to get into a better position to record audio of this spine tingling serenade.  As I drifted through the meadow I reflected on what a perfect evening it had been with the exception that I had seen no mature bulls.  I had just placed the Canon XL-H1 video camera in position to record the audio when suddenly several bulls came out of the tree line nearby following cows, which passed to my right side and circled to the hillside behind me with the bulls close behind.  All the while, the air was rent with screaming bugles.  Some of the bulls were raghorns, but others were large, mature bulls and at one point two bulls locked antlers in a violent but brief scuffle.  I had been not been aware of the  mature bulls as individual animals before this, but all were to loom large in my elk experiences during the next few years.

Mature Bull Bugles While Others Lock Antlers
 One of these animals was the bull featured in the first photo above  I was to encounter him again at The Gilbert on December 23, 2009, which was a bright, but bitter cold winter day. He and several smaller bulls spent the entire day there with a large herd of cows, basking in the bright sunlight in areas that were protected from the winds.

7x7 At Gilbert: December 23, 2009
 I was to see him again during the rut of 2010 when he spent a lot of time lying near the rental house at the Donnie Dudley rental house on Winslow Hill.  He walked with a pronounced limp and soon acquired the soubriquet of "Limpy".  Eventually he moved to The Saddle area and figured prominently in the encounter, which I and my brother Coy of Country Captures and retired PGC Deputy Wildlife Conservation Officer, had with the holder of The Governor's Conservation Elk Tag and his guide on the morning of September 29th.  See , An Unpleasant Encounter In Pennsylvania Elk Country, which was originally posted on October 10, 2010.

7x7 Bull "Limpy"  September 29th 2010 Before Encounter: Video Still Canon XL-H1 W.Hill
This is one of those bulls that is very impressive indeed, but seems to have grown little if any larger since 2009.  He is also noted for his deep, throaty, rumbling bugle, which could be described as a roar. It is one of the most impressive bugles I have heard!

While one should always respect these animals and not infringe on their personal space, this bull is completely acclimated to humans and is very trusting of them. He is living proof that many Pennsylvania elk are not "as wild as any" as is often claimed.  Hopefully he will not be killed during the coming season, but if he is, it will be interesting to see how those involved try to spin this into an exciting, challenging, hunting adventure.

7x7 Lying In Woods Near Harem
 A seasoned outdoorsman who has photographed elk all over the United States, and hunted them in one of the western states discussed this situation in detail with my brother last week in Elk County.  His two major points were that these are some of the largest, most easily seen bulls anywhere in the United States including the national parks and they are also the most accepting of humans and most docile he has seen .  When discussing that 10 of the 18 bull tags issued (19 if one considers the Governor's Conservation tag)  were for the Hunt Zones that most directly influence the viewing areas on Winslow Hill (Zones 2,8, and 10)-his reaction was WHY?

To be continued along with discussion of more facets of the elk management controversy.

Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.


Ruth Hiebert said...

These are such beautiful animals.Having grown up in a family of hunters,I understand that aspect,but I still hate to see these animals being killed.

PaWingers said...

Hey Willard, those are some fantastic shots. They are so sharp and crisp. My hat is off to you!

Anonymous said...

I hope to see Limpy someday. Sure hope he survives the hunt, unlike many of the other special bulls we have lost. Very nice post and great photos, Willard.

Unknown said...

Great images along with a message that is extremely important. The spin of the hunt continues to amaze me.

reginag said...

Absolutely amazing! Lovely shot!
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