Monday, December 22, 2014

Crazy Legs-A Non-typical Monster

"Crazy Legs, Jr " 2010: Canon 7D-500mm F4.0
Most serious elk watchers and photographer were familiar with the bull known as "Crazy Legs, Jr" that was an impressive rack bull  from 2008 until 2010 when he was killed in elk season that year.  Most have also heard of the original "Crazy Legs", bull  that was killed by poachers in mid-October of 2000, in Grove Township along Route 120 on the Clinton/Cameron county line, but this was before the time of many that visit the elk range today so photographs and video of this bull are much less common than that of  "Crazy Legs, Jr.".

On December 18th I received an e-mail notification that someone had posted a comment on the Support PA Elk Blog asking if I knew of anyone that has photos of the original bull.  When I visited the page; however, I found that the comment was posted back in September so I am not quite sure what went on with the comment notification system.  At any rate I could not find any still photographs of this bull and his time on Winslow Hill corresponded with a period that I was taking very few still photographs, so it is likely that I have none. As a result I searched through my video files from 1996 and 1997, which were years I was sure I had filmed the bull, and made video still captures of some of the better poses.

1995 was the first year I filmed the Pennsylvania elk rut and one foggy morning,  I was filming a bull along Dewey road when Claude Nye, better know to many as Dr. Perk, came along and told me about the bull.  He said, "we used to call him Steve, but now we call him Crazy Legs because he likes to travel". 

"Crazy Legs": 1995:Panasonic AG-455
This film and that from 1996 was taken with a Panasonic AG-455 MUP. This was a popular S/VHS camcorder with wedding and wildlife videographers and featured much better image quality than the 8mm and VHS camcorders that were more commonly used by video enthusiasts at the time.

The bull was larger in 1996 and the non-typical configuration for which he became famous was much more noticeable.

"Crazy Legs": 1996: Panasonic AG-455

"Crazy Legs"-1996: Panasonic AG-455
The following year I switched to a Canon L2 interchangeable lens Hi-8 camcorder, which excelled for long range work. Stills captured from its' footage are also sadly lacking in quality compared to today's equipment, but they do serve the purpose of showing what the bull looked like.

The first frame was captured from  footage of a fight that he lost to anther monster bull on the hillside to the south of Dr. Perk's house in the rut of 1997.  His rack configuration made it difficult to successfully fight, as it was so wide and flat by comparison to a more typical  bull, that the other animal could come right between his antlers and inflict damage.  As a result, it was no surprise that  the Crazy Legs bull was somewhat timid. Most who saw the fight or heard of it were not surprised that he lost, but rather were amazed that he had  fought at all.

"Crazy Legs" 1997: Canon L2
The shot below was captured when he paused from drinking in a water puddle, lifted his head, and lip-curled.  This was taken near the intersection of the road that comes from the Dewey Road parking lot and the road that goes in The Saddle.

"Crazy Legs" 1997": Canon L2
He would survive through three more elk ruts, but as best as I can tell I never filmed him again after 1997.  I was only spending about five days each autumn in the elk range at that time and it was common for this to happen.  There was even a year or so that I didn't film Bull 36 a.ka. "Fred" or "Dogrope" during the rut.  This was usually because the bull was not in the area that I was filming during the time I was there.

It seems that this strain is strong in the Pennsylvania elk herd as currently there are several bulls out that that show signs of this influence.  It is likely in the years to come that  from time to time another non-typical bull with this configuration will appear and be seen for awhile before he meets with misfortune.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.