Pennsylvania Elk Rut 2011-Part 1

I arrived  in Pennsylvania's elk country on the afternoon of September 18th, and returned home after the morning's activity on Friday September 30th. Weather conditions were less than ideal, but rutting activity and photo/filming opportunities were outstanding.  At one time I preferred bright, sunny weather for photography, but now I like to do a substantial amount of photography  and filming in weather which has "character".  Video is especially effective when it is raining or snowing as the falling precipitation contributes to the "wild" look of the scene. As usual, there was a lot of fog at times, but this too can result in dramatic photographs as long as it is not so thick as to obscure the subject.

Early Morning Fog Adds Atmosphere To Photos And Video
Distant Herd Bull And Harem
The warm weather was actually the biggest problem as rutting activity decreases during warm periods and there were some evenings that were very disappointing.  I recall one in particular where several bulls arrived at the Gilbert viewing area, only to lie down and do little except bugle intermittently until it was too dark for good photographs.  I actually do not have many good photographs from this trip as I concentrated on video and neglected to take stills in many cases.  I am currently in the process of rough editing and archiving the video from this trip and have almost completed that which was taken with the Canon XL-H1 and  I am now about  to begin working with footage taken with the T3i.  Considering the amount and quality of video taken, this was one of the most outstanding trips to elk country I have ever had. 

Another important aspect of the trip is getting to touch base with a lot of people that one only gets to see once or twice a year and it is always good to meet blog readers and those that have seen the elk film.  In what is hopefully to be one of many meetings, Richard Coy organized a gathering and picnic at the old Benezette School pavilion on Saturday September 24th for those that discuss the Pennsylvania elk herd on Facebook. He called it "Elk Rut Shoot 2011".  After the afternoon picnic, several members of the group went to the popular viewing areas on Dewey Road for an evening of elk photography.  I already knew several of the attendees, but it was good to actually meet the others I only knew as online personalities from Facebook or the blog,. .  In the past few years I  have met many people face to face that I have corresponded with in comments on the blog, e-mails, and Facebook postings and in most if not all cases, I find them to be exactly as one expects them to be.  Most that are interested in serious wildlife photography are truly good people and this shows through in their writing and when one meets them.

Pennsylvania Elk Rut Shoot 2011; Old  Benezette School
Photographers Meet In Elk Country: Paul Staniszewski, Odie Swartz, Ron Saffer, David Anderson, Randy Quinn
I thank all of those that have purchased "The Truth About Pennsylvania's Elk Herd" and that read the blog.  The video, which was released in the fall of 2008 continues to sell well and is still pertinent to most of the issues about elk management and the hunt today.  The PGC did eliminate the combined hunt zones, which did address one of the major concerns discussed in the film, but this year they  negated that by doubling the number of bull tags issued for Hunt Zones 2 and 8, which are immediately adjacent to the elk viewing areas, but that has been discussed in the past and will hopefully be a subject for future posts.

Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.

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