"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 25, 2015

Rocky Mountain Elk in the Allegheny Mountains



Mention elk to most people and the first image that comes to mind will likely be of the Rocky Mountains and the large herds that can be found throughout that range. However, wild, free roaming elk can be found much closer to home. 
A four hour drive to the village of Bennezette, PA will put one in the heart of Pennsylvania elk country.  Last Sunday, Cheryl and I made the drive to see if we could locate some of the descendants of the original elk, transported to Pennsylvania via boxcar from Yellowstone National Park in 1913.

Winslow Hill Rd. is the location of the Elk Country Visitor Center and continues to other "official" viewing areas designated by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.  It is a good place to start.  We found this bull in a small area adjacent to the Elk View Diner...


His unusually wide antlers reflect an abnormality the locals call "helicopter antlers".


During the mating season bull elk bugle to attract cows and to declare their dominance to other bulls...

 
Late September through October is the best time to see bulls because the rut is on and bulls are trying to assemble groups of females called "harems" to mate with...

 
 
 
 
 
 
During our visit the sound of bugling could be heard both day and night...
 
 
For some unexplainable reason, the elk congregate on Winslow Hill during the rut.  They are especially active early in the morning and just before sunset...
 
 
As with all wildlife, elk can be unpredictable so one must be flexible about when to seek them.  We found several bulls during the late morning, when many had already stopped looking...
 
 
The young bulls in the next photos are sparring in a yard along Gray Hill Rd...
 
 
 
Since they are not large enough to challenge an older bull, they are testing themselves against each other.  It is unlikely that bulls of this size will find cows that are unattended by dominate bulls...
 
 
Their sparring took them from one side of the yard to the other.  They finally ended up sparring with a firewood pile between them, which they quickly toppled over.  I wonder what the homeowner thought when he had to re-stack his firewood...
 
 
 
When the bulls tired they left together, leaving tracks and firewood scattered...
 
 
Other confrontations are not so cordial. Especially when a mature bull has collected some cows and is challenged by another mature bull for breeding rights.  In the next photo two bulls are posturing for each other, showing off their antlers hoping to intimidate each other into submission...
 
 
If intimidation fails, they often clash violently...
 
 
In this instance the challenger won and the bull with the non-typical antlers was vanquished...
 
 
One morning was especially foggy.  Hearing bulls bugle and being unable to tell their whereabouts added to the excitement...
 
 
As the sun burned off the fog the elk became easier to spot...
 
 
This spike bull was probably the smallest one we saw...
 
 
Young bulls seemed to be everywhere.  This one was found on Mt. Zion Rd...
 
 
In the beautiful light of sunset we found the non-typical bull tending his harem...
 
 
Even though he lost his females to a challenger, the season is long and the opportunities many...
 
 
I took this image of a broken antlered bull as the sun was about to set.  Capping three days of excitement, exploration, socializing and discovery...
 
 
Thanks for visiting, be well and come back soon.
 
 
 

2 comments:

  1. Excellent post with great photos, Steve. It was great to see you guys up there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, I am sorry we didn't get to visit longer. Next year I hope to plan for a longer stay.

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