Thursday, October 4, 2012

Book by Marci Geise Features Photos from PA Elk Country

Mid-afternoon September 22, found me traveling to The Wildlife Center at  Sinnemahoning State Park where author/photographer Marci Geise was holding a book signing for "Elk Scenic Drive"  The book features photos of points of interest and wildlife that may be seen while traveling the elk scenic drive, a 127 mile route through the heart of elk country.  I arrived to find Marci and her father, Phil chatting with attendees.

Marci Geise Poses With Her Book  The Wildlife Center: Photo by W.Hill
Marci Geise maintains an active presence on the internet and her work may be viewed at Marci Geise Photography or on Facebook.  In addition, she was recently featured in the Monday September 17th edition of The St. Marys Daily Press.

Marci graciously contributed video footage and still photographs to "Running Wild In Pennsylvania Elk Country", a film which I released in late September.  Of special note are two video clips of bears playing and several photographs of bull 36, better know as "Fred" or "Freddy".  One of the featured photos is shown below.

Fred In 2009: Photo by Marci Geise-all rights reserved
Geise will hold another book signing on October 12 at the Cameron County Artisan Center.  Her book may be purchased at Benezett Store & Restaurant, Cameron County Artisan Center, Elk County Council On The Arts, Wharton General Store, The Wildlife Center at Sinnemahoning State Park, and the Cameron County Artisan Center. In addition the book may  be ordered directly from the author.  Please visit her website for  ordering instructions.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Will The Biggest and Best Be Lost?

Mature 7x7 Bugling: Panasonic GH2 Canon 500mm F4
I was in Pennsylvania elk country from September 16th until late Friday morning on the 28th.  Overall it was one of the best trips ever, yet I was experiencing  grave misgivings about the bull situation by the time the trip was over. I saw more bulls than ever, and more antlers together, both  in sparring matches and brief fights, which is unlike recent years in which I seldom saw this.

Mature Bull: Canon 5D MK III Canon 500mm F4
Mature 7x7: Panasonic GH2 Canon 300mm F2.8
At first glance it would seem that the photographs I posted indicate there are a large number of mature bulls on Winslow Hill and there certainly are quite a few, but none that I photographed are likely to approach or exceed the magic 400 Boone and Crockett score that so many view as the holy grail of elk hunting.  The one that comes closest is an acclimated animal that has no fear of humans whatsoever.  With him apparently being the largest bull on the hill, there seems little likelihood that he will survive elk season.  Last year we lost two of the best on Winslow Hill and none have replaced the largest to the best of my knowledge.  I would expect the loss of at least one, most likely two, and perhaps all of the bulls shown today in the coming season.

It seems we are striving to become like Kentucky, which has a large elk herd, but which judging from most of the photographs I see, are distinctly second or third tier bulls compared to the best that Pennsylvania can offer.

Last year the largest Pennsylvania bulls came from the outlying areas, with the exception of the 7x8 which was killed near Weedville. It will be interesting to see if this is the case this year.

There seems little doubt that the PGC will address the large number of elk around the viewing areas on Winslow Hill. It is certainly true that the herd cannot be left to grow unchecked, but there is little excuse to kill the biggest and best bulls each year in an area that is home to the Elk Country Visitor Center and the hotbed of elk related tourism.  That being said it is a difficult situation to address as many of the bulls travel a long distance from Winslow Hill after the rut, with many going to Spring Run, the Weedvillle-Gardner Hill area, or further after the rut is over.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.