This blog was originally developed as a venue to present my wildlife photography and videos to the public, with a special emphasis on Pennsylvania's elk herd. The first post was made on October 1, 2007. It was titled "The Shedding Of The Velvet" and featured four photos of whitetail bucks. Since that time, a variety of wildlife species have been covered, but I would assume that elk and deer have been the most discussed species by far.
|Elk Have Been A Major Focus Of Blog Since The Beginning|
The launching of the blog also coincided with the beginning of serious post-production work on "The Truth About Pennsylvania's Elk Herd", which was released in September of 2008. "The Truth" is a 2 hour 42 minute film that deals briefly with the overall history of Pennsylvania Elk, goes into an in depth history of the herd from 1995 until 2008, covers the life cycle of the elk with a special emphasis on the rut, and concludes with a look at elk management issues.
The film differs from most mainstream press coverage of Pennsylvania elk and from other films on the subject in that it takes at critical look at Pennsylvania's elk management policy. The concept for the film actually began years ago when I was an employee of the PGC Food And Cover Corps, and Deputy Wildlife Conservation Officer. At that time Billie Cromwell was a Food And Cover Corps foreman and as such was my supervisor. On his own time, Billie shot video footage of the elk herd, which he then turned over to PGC videographer, Hal Korber, who incorporated a great deal of it in The Pennsylvania Game Commission video, "Pennsylvania Elk: Reclaiming The Alleghenies". Billie had been going to elk country since the 1980s and had been around the elk a lot. He was an avid hunter and shooter, but soon recognized that the elk herd was something special and as such he was the first one who exposed me to the view that the elk were "best utilized as a viewable resource" I must add that this was and is a commonly held view among many who are part of the "elk culture" on Winslow Hill. Most of these people are, or were, avid hunters who recognize the need to control the elk population at some point, but based on the PGC's past track record, and some of the statements we were hearing and reading, it was easy to be alarmed at what direction an elk hunt might take.
|Billie Cromwell With Canon L2 Filming Near Saddle, Sept. 1998: video still capture Canon L2 by W.Hill|
This became possible when I retired from the agency in 2007 and was free to express my personal viewpoints in both writing and film. Billie and well known elk photographer, Ron "Buckwheat" Saffer, both gave me tremendous aid in preparing the script for the film, contributing video footage and still photographs, and providing support and inspiration along the way.
At a meeting shortly before "The Truth About Pennsylvania's Elk Herd" was released, Billie and others were reminiscing about the making of the PGC video and Billie remarked that had he known how that "Reclaiming the Alleghenies" would be used to advance the agenda for an elk hunt, and even tourism to the extent that it was, that he would not have participated in the project. He was especially bitter that his name was mentioned only once in the closing credits of the film and he believed that some did not even want it listed there. It was not listed anywhere on the jacket of the video, although the name of every other person involved to a major extent was listed, along with credit for what they did, and Billie was involved to a major extent as a significant portion of the rut footage was filmed by him.
A major concern that began when talk of a hunt first surfaced and continues to this day is that restraint would go out the window once the hunt started, with larger and larger license allocations and an undue focus on shooting the large acclimated bulls.
The point of all of this is that the blog has always been issue driven to a certain extent. During the past year I have moved it more in that direction and hope to continue to pursue this course. I do plan to continue writing about the natural history of wildlife, and photography/video equipment and techniques also.
In addition I wish to thank everyone who purchased the film, or supported the blog. I have met many of you in elk country as a result and truly appreciate your support.
Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.