"A Sand County Almanac"

"THERE ARE SOME WHO CAN LIVE WITHOUT WILD THINGS AND SOME WHO CANNOT."
"FOR US IN THE MINORITY THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEE GEESE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN TELEVISION.".....Aldo Leopold




"LOOK DEEP INTO NATURE, AND THEN YOU WILL UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING BETTER".....Albert Einstein


Friday, September 27, 2013

Pennsylvania Elk Range, Day Two


Pennsylvania Elk Range, Day Two, September 22, 2013
After a rainy afternoon on our first day we were looking forward to better weather on the dawn of the second day.  Although overcast, at least the rain had ended and we left for Benezette with high expectations of photographing elk.
Not far from the campground, we encountered this bull and his harem in the yard of a house right along the road.  I was standing on the pavement while taking these photos…





In the small town of Benezette there were a number of elk loafing and feeding …




The Elk Visitor Center is located on Winslow Hill Road and is worth a stop to see the exhibits and learn the history of the elk herd in Pennsylvania…


These photos are from the first elk observation area at the top of Winslow Hill…


We learned, upon arrival at the lower parking area on Dewey Road, that our delay to photograph the elk along Route 555 caused us to miss a battle between two bulls.  One of the biggest regrets of wildlife photography is that one cannot be everywhere at once.  We did see this younger bull not long after arriving at Winslow Hill…



He left the open area and entered the thick bushes bordering the field.  By continuing down the road a short distance we found him again.  This time he was thrashing bushes and trees with his antlers…

The bull was on posted private property and I could not obtain better photos without trespassing.  Something I refuse to do.  This man apparently has no such respect for the property of others…
 
After the battle with the bushes, the bull did step onto the road for a moment...

In the next photo two, more ethical, photographers are on the correct side of the barrier…


The sun burned away the remaining fog as the morning progressed…

Patience is one of the most valuable traits of wildlife photographers.  We moved to a better vantage point farther up the road and began our vigil…

In the early afternoon elk began to appear.  As expected, each group of cows was accompanied by a herd bull, that was constantly checking the readiness of the cows to mate...
 
 
When a cow was not ready the bull would often bugle to indicate his frustration and to remind other bulls that the harem was his...
 

  Most herds also had a subordinate “satellite” bull somewhere nearby.  The satellite bulls are waiting and hoping for a chance to steal a cow from the herd when the dominate bull is preoccupied...
 
Often the dominate and satellite bulls would take the field at the same time.  When this happened the onlookers excitement would rise in anticipation of a battle between the two...
 
 


Most encounters of this type do not result in actual fights.  The pecking order has already been established between these bulls by sheer intimidation, or early season sparring.  When pressed by the herd bull,, the subordinate will move away and wait for another chance at an unattended cow...

 
Often signaling his displeasure by bugling...
 
 
Meanwhile, the herd bull is constantly checking each cow, trying to get one to mate as soon as she is ready...
 


 



 
Even a nursing cow is not safe from the advances of the bull...
 


We did witness one successful act of mating but it was too dark for photos by that time.
Visit again next week to see photos from day three of our trip to the Pennsylvania Elk Range.

 

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