Friday, July 8, 2011

Excellent Mid-Summer Photo Opportunites In Benezette Area

With summer well underway, there are plenty of excellent photo opportunities in the Benezette area, with the young calves and the bulls with their velvet covered racks being the main attraction. Antlers growth is rapid and they  already were quite large by mid-June, when Paul Staniszewski photographed a fine bull shortly after dawn on Winslow Hill.

Bulls Have Substantial Antler Growth By Mid-June: Photo by Paul Staniszewski-all rights reserved
By early July they are almost completely developed with most if not all of the points the animal will grow being present and  most of the antler mass is developed.  From now on growth will  mostly be a further increase in mass, and the tines will become sharper.  On Tuesday, Paul was on his way to the Elk Country Visitor Center to replenish his stock of elk and flower cards and framed larger format photographs, which are for sale in the gift shop, when he encountered an impressive bull by the roadside on Gray Hill.

Mature Bull On Gray Hill: Photo by Paul Staniszewski-all rights reserved

This is one of the few "character" bulls remaining and is known as Mr. Attitude, by several elk watchers and photographers.  This bull has spent a lot of time in downtown Benezette and is totally acclimated to humans.  It seems certain that he spends a substantial part of the year , if not all of it in the No Hunt Zone, Hunt Zones 2, and 8, and possibly Hunt Zone 10. With four bull tags issued for hunt zone 2 , 4 for zone 8, and two for Zone 10, this means that most likely TEN bulls will be shot in the areas immediately surrounding the center of elk tourism on Winslow Hill, since the success rate on bulls seems to range from 90%--100% and one can be certain that it will be the largest bulls that will be shot if they are seen.

Bearing this in mind, tourists and photographers should enjoy seeing this animal while they can, as it is not likely he will live to see another year unless he is lucky enough to stay in the No Hunt Zone or be on property where elk hunting is not allowed, during the elk season.

I thank Paul for sharing these photographs.  When visiting the area, be sure to check out his merchandise, along with that of many other artisans at the Elk Country Visitor Center.

Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Deer Sightings Increase With Dry Weather

Whitetail Deer Feeding In Early Morning
 Early morning, a light fog blankets the lower areas, as the faint glow of the yet to appear sun, tinges the atmosphere.  In the cool of the morning, the grasses are wet with the morning dew, but in a few short hours, the relentless rays of the summer sun will absorb the moisture and most deer will leave the open areas shortly before the rays of the sun hit them.  Only a bit over a week ago deer, especially the bucks, were more difficult to see. But then one day it stopped raining incessantly and the sun shone with a brutal power.  Within a short time there was a different feel in the air and the grasses in the more exposed areas withered.  To an experienced summer whitetail person, this meant that deer sightings were likely to increase.

Bucks are more likely to appear--either solitary animals or bachelor groups of two or more.  Earlier small streams provided a plentiful water supply in the  mountains, while lush green  foliage  and plant growth offered excellent forage during the wet weather, but with the onset of dry conditions, secluded meadows that are near  near to streams now provide better living conditions and this makes the animals more visible.  Only some of the yearling bucks actually travel with the extended family groups of does and fawns. Older bucks such as this one have gone out on their own. They may feed near a herd of does, but if one watches closely they will see they that the bucks usually arrive and leave by themselves.

Solitary Buck Leaves Meadow Before Sunrise
While fawns have been seen from time to time since mid-May, this also marks the period that they begin traveling with the does more frequently, or ranging about on their own and browsing on vegetation, and as a result fawn sightings skyrocket. Earlier they spent most of their time hiding in the tall grasses or the forest and nursing from the does.  For awhile they will derive nourishment both from feeding from the mother and grazing, but by autumn they will be weaned in most cases.

Whitetail Fawn In Late Evening
At this time of year more than any other, most whitetail photo opportunities occur either extremely early in the morning or late in the evening.  In the photo above a fawn did appear while the rays of the evening sun were still hitting the meadow, but often the deer appear after the best photographic light is gone.

Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.