10.06.2015

River Encounters

Another September has come and gone and I am back home after nearly two weeks in Pennsylvania elk country .  Many years ago a photographer remarked that each year is different from the others.This is often because the best food sources will vary depending on what is planted in certain areas or if there is a good mast crop in a particular year, which will cause the elk to spend more time in the woods.  Whatever the cause, this was a very different year than most in the recent past, as this was the first time in many years that there were very few elk in The Saddle area during the time that I was there.

Resting In The Woods
Although elk were seen consistently along Dewey Road it was not as good as in most recent years and consequently I spent more time in other areas.  In twenty years of photographing elk I have spent little time along the streams in elk country, but that changed this year when I spent a few afternoons along Bennett's Branch.  One day I arrived a short time after an impressive dominance fight had occurred and found several  photographers discussing the events.. The largest bull involved in the fight was the one in the photo directly below.

7x8 The Day Before The River Fight
Even though the fight was over, the air rang with bugles as satellite bulls drifted back and forth across the stream, pausing to drink and to bugle.

River Crossing
6x6 Pauses To Drink
Bugling In The River
I have had many exciting times in elk country, but  this afternoon stood out from many of them because this was the first time I had photographed bulls during the rut in this type of setting.

All photos were taken with the Canon 5D MKIII and the Canon 600mm f4.0 IS L lens.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.