Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Antlers Are Shed

Whitetail bucks shed their antlers each year after the rut. It seems that the smaller bucks in this area usually shed during Christmas week or somewhat later, with the largest often being among the last to shed.  This year only two of the yearling bucks returned after the rut and only one stayed long enough that I could document the shedding of his antlers.  He had both spikes on January 2, but when he appeared on the morning of the 3rd, the left antler was gone.

Spike Buck-One Antler Shed: Canon 5D MK III 500mm F4 -1/400 sec. f4.5-ISO 1000
He still had this antler on the morning of the 4th, but it was gone when he appeared in late afternoon.  I was able to photograph the raw pedicle with the 500mm F4, but the image is severely cropped to give it impact.

Raw Pedicle: Canon 5D MK III 500mm F4 -1/2000 sec. f4.5-ISO 400
 I have seen bucks with antlers in early to mid-February and have heard of them still having antlers as late as early April, but it seems that most have lost them by mid-February. This pattern has held true in my home area for several years, but the normal order of things seems to have changed at Shenandoah National Park.

I used to visit Shenandoah National Park to photograph whitetail bucks during the Martin Luther King Holiday weekend, and one always saw several mature bucks still carrying antlers, but  Larry W. Brown reports in a post on Flickr, Full Circle-Part 1 , that this is the second year in a row that the bucks have shed early.  I am not sure why the time frame on shedding has shifted.  One could  suspect that it was a side effect of the tranquilizer from the collaring program, but that would not explain that they also shed early in 2011.

Also be sure to read Larry's post Full Circle-Part 2 for more about the research program and a look at how visitor numbers plummeted in November 2012.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Introducing Dan Gomola

Interest in serious wildlife photography seems to be steadily increasing.  When I first visited Pennsylvania Elk Country, it was very rare to see photographers with professional grade equipment, but now there is a thriving photographic community that gathers on Winslow Hill each year. I always enjoy meeting or corresponding with fellow photographers so it was a pleasure to receive an e-mail from.Dan Gomola, who is an excellent photographer from Western Pennsylvania.  Dan loves to photograph the flora and fauna of Pennsylvania Elk Country, as well as other areas of special interest such as Gettysburg National Military Park, McConnell's Mill, and Moraine State Park.

Dan Gomola

You may see Dan's work by visiting his Website, which  features several photo galleries including Nature and Wildlife, Landscape & Historic, and A Good Day At The Lake, along with video clips of Pennsylvania elk. To view the website click the above link or click  Dan's portrait.

Dan's favorite prime lens is the Canon 300mm F2.8, which he uses with the Canon 1.4XEF III extender, and  Canon 2xEF III extender when the need for more reach arises.

According to Dan, "Many people don't have the opportunity to see wildlife up close.  I've always had a love for animals big and small and like to show that in my photos.  If I can help someone have that same admiration for our wildlife and landscape, it was worth it to me to go out for hours to get that one photo." 

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill