9.29.2014

Pennsylvania Elk Rut-Activity Is Now Spotty

Elk rutting activity was very slow on Thursday--at least where I was--but it picked a bit on Friday. That morning was extremely foggy, as is usual for Pennsylvania elk country.  As the fog started to lift a bit, I pulled into a Game Commission parking lot and heard bugling coming from a nearby meadow. Upon checking the situation out, I found several cows and calves feeding along the tree line at the edge of the meadow while a bull watched them from just inside the woods and bugled periodically. At first it was so foggy that the bull was almost impossible to photograph, but then the fog lifted and suddenly a  larger 6x7 bull came running in from behind me and to my right and  locked antlers with the smaller bull.

6x7 Charges Smaller Bull
Bulls Fighting
They locked antlers several times and fought violently for  brief periods before the smaller bull ran off and left the 6x7 in control of the harem.

The Victor
That evening I decided to check out a favorite scenic overlook and found a Wildlife Conservation Officer there.  While we were talking he suddenly whispered, "look behind you" and I turned to see a beautiful bull walking directly toward us along the rim of the overlook.  I had the 70D around my neck with the 17-40mm attached so I brought it to eye level and took several photos. This was the Conservation Officers' first trip to elk country and he was very impressed with the experience.


Overlook Bull
I saw more elk including a few bulls before darkness fell, but the photo above was the highlight of the evening.  These events raised my hopes for the remainder of the weekend, but the trend did not continue, and activity was flat on Saturday and Sunday.

The highlight of Saturday was the Benezette Elk Camera Club Picnic.  I wish to thank the club for the opportunity to address them and play a few banjo tunes.  I also thank them for the courtesy and kindness the members extended to me.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.

9.25.2014

Pennsylvania Elk Rut Explodes

Mature Bull Herds Cows During Peak Of The Rut

I arrived in Pennsylvania Elk Country just as a northwest cold front was moving through on Sunday afternoon.  Elk enthusiasts who were there all last week said that activity was good earlier in the week, but crashed as the weather got warm later in the week.  With the passing of the cold front; however, activity exploded again and it was very intense for a few days.

I took mostly video for the first few days of the trip, but on Wednesday evening several bulls were working a herd of cows in ideal lighting conditions for still photography so  I broke out the Canon 5D MK III with the 600mm f4 lens and the 70D with the 300mm f 2.8 and took the photos used in today's post. At first only one bull was present, but soon more arrived on the scene.

Bull Runs Toward Action
One of the bulls has large, sweeping antlers and is called "The Western Bull" by many as  his antlers look more like those seen on bulls in the western states.  It seems that the antlers on most Pennsylvania bulls are more likely to be relatively narrow in relation to their width, while many of  western bull's racks tend to be long, thin, and sweeping in appearance.  This bull is very aggressive and one point on the right antler is broken off from fighting.

"The Western Bull" A Damaged Warrior
Bulls locked antlers at times during the evening and I got a few frames of the action, but there was always some high grass between me and them when this happened and the blurry, out of focus grass detracted from the quality of the photos.

Bulls Fighting
Most expected the activity to continue this morning (Thursday),but most of the elk left the meadows shortly after daylight and there was little bugling.  Later in the morning, a solitary bull was seen feeding and resting along Winslow Hill Road near Elk View Diner and he soon became the major attraction on  the hill.

Old Bull Along Winslow Hill Road
This is the bull that many elk enthusiasts call "Limpy" He is a mature bull that is showing the signs of advancing age.  He has been in the center of the fighting for much of the rut, but now it seems he has moved away from the herd for a time, to rest and avoid confrontation with the other bulls.  He was still there in mid-afternoon when I drove past as I headed out for the evening's photography session.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.

9.10.2014

PGC & RMEF To Dedicate Woodring Farm September 13th

9x8 At Woodring Property Rut 2009
PRIME ELK HABITAT TO BE DEDICATED
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to dedicate 81 acres at Saturday ceremony.

Source: PA Game Commission News Advisory

The Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation announce the dedication of 81 acres of prime elk habitat known as the Woodring Farm on Saturday, Sept. 13 at 10 a.m.

Parcel Location
The land is located at 2702 Winslow Hill Road, Benezette Pa., 15821.

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Since 1991, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) and its partners completed 301 conservation and hunting outreach projects in Pennsylvania with a combined value of more than $22.6 million. The RMEF has made 10 land-acquisition purchases that opened or secured public access to 8,465 acres. About 11,000 Pennsylvanians are RMEF members.

Directions
From state Route 555 in Benezette, turn onto Front Street, then turn right onto Winslow Hill Road. Follow Winslow Hill Road approximately 2.6 miles. The dedication will take place at the red house on the left. 
Former Maynard Woodring Residence

Calf Elk On Woodring Property
Sunset Over The Woodring Farm
Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.

9.04.2014

PA Elk Rut Underway/PGC Announces Fall 2014 Schedule For Viewing Areas


Elk At Winslow Hill/Porcupine Run Viewing Area-September 2013
The Pennsylvania elk rut begins in late August and continues through October, with the peak activity being from mid-September into early October.  Elk Country Visitor Center provides an excellent starting point  for first time visitors, but much of the best elk viewing is on the State Game Lands on Winslow Hill.  The PGC maintains the Winslow Hill/ Porcupine Run and Dents Run Viewing Areas.  When driving up Winslow Hill, past the entrance to the Visitor Center, the Winslow Hill/Porcupine Run area is to the left at the intersection with Dewey Road.  This is perhaps the best for seeing elk at close distance to the road.

Bull Herding Cows At Winslow Hill/Porcupine Run 2013
 Many long time visitors to the elk range still call this ""The Gilbert Viewing Area" or "The Gilbert Farm" as Kenny Gilbert owned it for many years before selling to a consortium of conservation organizations

The Dents Run Viewing Area looks over a large meadow on a distant hillside.  It is picturesque, but most photo opportunities there are at long range.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is conducting activities at the viewing areas on the weekends  throughout September and early October. The public will have the opportunity to chat with representatives of the agency and special informational programs will be provided.

PGC Personnel  At 2013 Elk Expo

Fall Schedule

September 5
4:00 PM-Dark: Visit with the PGC (Winslow Hill Viewing Area)
Saturday September 6
4:00 PM – Dark: Visit with the PGC (Winslow Hill Viewing Area)
8:00 PM - Dark: Campfire (Dents Run Viewing Area)
8:30 PM - 9:00: Campfire Program “Coyotes” (Dents Run Viewing Area) … bring a camp chair if you have one

Friday September 12
3:30 PM – Dark: Visit with the PGC (Winslow Hill Viewing Area)
3:30 PM – Dark: Visit with the PGC (Dents Run Viewing Area)

Saturday September 13
3:30 PM – Dark: Visit with the PGC (Winslow Hill Viewing Area)
3:30 PM – Dark: Visit with the PGC (Dents Run Viewing Area)
7:30 PM - Dark: Campfire (Dents Run Viewing Area)
8:00 PM – 8:30: Campfire Program “Sounds of the night” (Dents Run Viewing Area) …
bring   a camp chair if you have one
 
Friday September 19
3:30 PM – Dark: Visit with the PGC (Winslow Hill Viewing Area)
3:30 PM – Dark: Visit with the PGC (Dents Run Viewing Area)

Saturday September 20
1:00 PM – PGC Program “Monarch Butterflies” (Elk Country Visitor’s Center0
3:30 PM – Dark: Visit with the PGC (Winslow Hill Viewing Area)
3:30 PM – Dark: Visit with the PGC (Dents Run Viewing Area)


Friday September 26
3:30 PM – Dark: Visit with the PGC (Winslow Hill Viewing Area)
3:30 PM – Dark: Visit with the PGC (Dents Run Viewing Area)


Saturday September 27
3:30 PM – Dark: Visit with the PGC (Winslow Hill Viewing Area)
3:30 PM – Dark: Visit with the PGC (Dents Run Viewing Area)
7:30 PM - Dark: Campfire (Dents Run Viewing Area)
8:00 PM – 8:30: Campfire Program “Into to Geocaching” (Dents Run Viewing Area) … bring a camp chair if you have one
Followed by an optional “Night Cache” filled with PGC Goodies

OCTOBER
Friday October 3
3:00 PM – Dark: Visit with the PGC (Winslow Hill Viewing Area)
Saturday October 4
3:00 PM – Dark: Visit with the PGC (Winslow Hill Viewing Area)
7:00 PM - Dark: Campfire (Dents Run Viewing Area)
7:30 PM – 8:00: Campfire Program “Pennsylvania Owls” (Dents Run Viewing Area)
Sunday October 5
11:00 AM: Pavillion Program “Wildlife Sign” (Dents Run Viewing Area)
Friday October 10
3:00 PM – Dark: Visit with the PGC (Winslow Hill Viewing Area)
Saturday October 11
3:00 PM – Dark: Visit with the PGC (Winslow Hill Viewing Area)
            7:00 PM - Dark: Campfire (Dents Run Viewing Area)
7:30 PM – 8:00: Campfire Program “Pennsylvania Bats” (Dents Run Viewing Area)
Sunday October 12
1:00 – 4:00: Driving Tour of SGL 311 (Beginning at the bottom of Dewey Road at gate.

A special thanks to PGC Northcentral Region Information & Educations Supervisor Doty McDowell for providing the information.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.

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