9.30.2012

Will The Biggest and Best Be Lost?

Mature 7x7 Bugling: Panasonic GH2 Canon 500mm F4
I was in Pennsylvania elk country from September 16th until late Friday morning on the 28th.  Overall it was one of the best trips ever, yet I was experiencing  grave misgivings about the bull situation by the time the trip was over. I saw more bulls than ever, and more antlers together, both  in sparring matches and brief fights, which is unlike recent years in which I seldom saw this.

Mature Bull: Canon 5D MK III Canon 500mm F4
Mature 7x7: Panasonic GH2 Canon 300mm F2.8
At first glance it would seem that the photographs I posted indicate there are a large number of mature bulls on Winslow Hill and there certainly are quite a few, but none that I photographed are likely to approach or exceed the magic 400 Boone and Crockett score that so many view as the holy grail of elk hunting.  The one that comes closest is an acclimated animal that has no fear of humans whatsoever.  With him apparently being the largest bull on the hill, there seems little likelihood that he will survive elk season.  Last year we lost two of the best on Winslow Hill and none have replaced the largest to the best of my knowledge.  I would expect the loss of at least one, most likely two, and perhaps all of the bulls shown today in the coming season.

It seems we are striving to become like Kentucky, which has a large elk herd, but which judging from most of the photographs I see, are distinctly second or third tier bulls compared to the best that Pennsylvania can offer.

Last year the largest Pennsylvania bulls came from the outlying areas, with the exception of the 7x8 which was killed near Weedville. It will be interesting to see if this is the case this year.

There seems little doubt that the PGC will address the large number of elk around the viewing areas on Winslow Hill. It is certainly true that the herd cannot be left to grow unchecked, but there is little excuse to kill the biggest and best bulls each year in an area that is home to the Elk Country Visitor Center and the hotbed of elk related tourism.  That being said it is a difficult situation to address as many of the bulls travel a long distance from Winslow Hill after the rut, with many going to Spring Run, the Weedvillle-Gardner Hill area, or further after the rut is over.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks. These are beautiful elk and interesting info.

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