Ronald Saffer's Last Portrait of Fred-Bull 36

After learning of Bull 36's death over the weekend, Ronald "Buckwheat" Saffer, Pennsylvania's premier elk photographer, called to discuss his death and his relationship with this animal over the years.  He was one of Saffer's favorite subjects until later in his life, when he began spending most of his time in Benezette and achieved lasting fame as the Benezette town bull.  Buckwheat specializes in photographing exceptional bulls in natural environments and after Fred moved to town so as to speak, he did not encounter him nearly as often, although he still photographed him if he found him on Winslow Hill in a natural setting.  He has graciously agreed to share the last professional portrait that he took of him during the rut this autumn.

Bull 36 At Dudley Property-Along Winslow Hill Road: Photo courtesy of Ronald Saffer
Many were concerned that Fred would be shot during the first few years of the hunt, as he was often found in Hunt Zone 2 during the rut and it seemed possible that he could linger too long in that area and be caught by the opening of elk season.  Also there were rumors of plots to drive him from the No Hunt Zone into the Hunt Zone, but  that never happened.

Some were still talking about shooting him as late as 2007, when he was featured on King's Outdoor World, The article features two still pictures and a video clip titled "What Does This Elk Score?" The following is a quote from that page:

"This bull is a herd bull that is a result of transplanted elk to the east to help build up the herd years ago and therefore has a radio collar on its neck as wildlife authorities keep a close eye on the herd. Don’t let that make you think that it is a high fenced bull. This is a fair chase bull that a lucky hunter could very well get this year through their lottery draw."

The video clip starts with a shot of another bull and then there is Fred chasing a cow. You can hear someone say," I think I could even hit him from here" Some one else says ,"Oh I could probably get one in him"

As it turned out, no one "got one in him" and he lived a long life , bringing pleasure to thousands upon thousands of people. Sadly, unless the current system changes, there is not likely to be another that can survive to attain his status, as his most likely heir apparent was killed during season this year, and it seems that most bulls are now killed within a year or so of attaining trophy status.

Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Willard and a very nice photo from Mr. Saffer! I am thankful that Fred went on HIS terms and not that of a hunter. May he rest in peace. We will always miss him.