Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pennsylvania Bull Elk Shed Antlers

Elk Grazing On Site of The Gilbert Farmhouse At Sundown ( House was burned in 2010)
 Some of the larger bulls shed their antlers in late February and this continues into April with the smaller bulls generally shedding last.  It is common to see mature bulls growing new antlers, while smaller bulls still have last years antler growth.  I was in Pennsylvania Elk Country from mid-afternoon on Monday until mid-morning on Thursday with the goal of filming and photographing as much of this activity as possible.

At first it seemed as though that aspect of the trip was doomed to failure as cows, calves, and spike bulls were everywhere, but the rack bulls were impossible to find.  This changed on Wednesday evening when I found a mature bull near Devils Elbow that had already shed and was growing new antlers. I stood at the edge of the roadway and photographed him with the 500mm lens  as he stood in the woods near the edge of a camp lawn.

Mature Bull Growing Antlers
A bit later I found two raghorns that still had their antlers near Elkview Diner, and an older bull was with them that had already shed and was just beginning to grow new antlers.  Again, the 500mm F4 was the lens of choice, but the range was much further in this case.

Raghorns Near Elkview Diner

Growing New Antlers
The final morning of the trip was to prove eventful as well, but that is a story for another time.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.


Kritter Keeper at Farm Tails said...

love this willard! the first one's eye is blue! so pretty and unique. i have a button buck whose eyes are hazel. guess what... i handled a canon 7d at best buy today...omg, i am in love!!! hate that they are so expensive!

Anonymous said...

Great pictures, Willard! Are the elk getting their summer coats on? I noticed that the elk fur is two toned.

paulstan said...

Willard... Great article...

lv2scpbk said...

Wonderful close up photo.

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Willard said...

They haven't started getting the summer coat yet, but the winter coat is very ragged and bleached out looking. there are some bare areas on the skin, but I am almost certain this is from demodectic mange as the skin appears to be dry and scaly. As time goes on the winter hair will fall out and be replaced by the new summer hair. They will really get rough looking a bit later on as this process gets underway.

Unknown said...

Hello, Willard! My husband and I were going to go looking for elk sheds but weren't sure when they dropped. Where in Pennsylvania are you or were you taking these photos? Have you ever heard of Keating?

Willard said...

Some of the big bulls may drop them as early as late February, but sometime in March is more likely and it continues into April.

I never did any shed hunting, but have tried to film them at that time to document it. One can see some bulls starting to grow antlers while others have not yet lost them.

I have been in the Keating area, but I mostly film on Winslow Hill and Gray Hill. Gray Hill is mostly private property and not a good place to hunt for sheds unless you know a landowner and of course Winslow Hill has a lot of private land too, but it also has a lot of public land as well and you can go there without problems