July Bulls

Mature Bull Feeding In Natural Meadow
I spent last week in Pennsylvania Elk Country filming and photographing the Pennsylvania elk herd.along with any other wildlife that I happened to find.  It was one of the better July trips to Pennsylvania Elk Country, that I have experienced with a lot of encounters with bulls in velvet and calves. Today we will focus on the bulls and look at the calf photos in a future post. Except for the young spikes, bulls were mostly  found either by themselves or in bachelor groups and they were usually seen either very early or very late.

Portion Of A Bachelor Group Before Sunrise
 The bulls usually left to spend the day in the woods soon after the first rays of the morning sun hit the meadows although sometimes they lingered much longer as in the case of the largest bull of the trip which is shown in the first photo featured today.  He was still feeding after 8:00 a.m. on a bright sunny morning and was still there when I left at 8:15.

Bulls Slowly Head In As Sun Hits Meadow
 We will close for the day with two more photos of 6x6 bulls both of which were taken in the early morning.

6x6 Bull

6x6 Pauses By Roadside
I hope you enjoyed the photos.  As usual, I took a lot more video than stills, but it is getting harder to find the time and motivation to edit so I will not promise when I will post some video clips, but I do hope to make a post soon about the calf encounters.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.


Early and Late Is The Key For Successfully Photographing Summer Bulls

7x7 Along Winslow Hill Road

 Today,s post features more photos of bull elk from the mid-June trip to Pennsylvania Elk Country.  While I saw several cows and calves it seemed that bulls were much easier to see and photograph.  Some had impressive antler growth, but most were young bulls such as the one in the photo below. This class of bull needs to get a few more years on him to grow truly impressive antlers, although they can look quite large to someone used to seeing only whitetail deer.

4x4 Pauses From Grazing
I found another 4x4 grazing in a small opening by the roadside  along Dents Run Road and photographed him with the 7D MKII and the 100-400mm IS II lens.

4x4 Along Dents Run Road
 It seems especially in the summer, that one can only see bulls consistently either very early in the morning or late in the evening.  They are usually back in the woods either before the first rays of the sun touches the meadows, or shortly thereafter in the mornings and they usually do not emerge again until shortly before sundown or later and the hotter it is, the more this rule applies.  The bull below was photographed on the first evening of the trip as I found him feeding along Winslow Hill Road.   This photo was taken at ISO 1000 with a Canon 5D MKIII and the 70-200 IS II L lens at f2.8 and 1/50 sec. shutter speed. This lens and the 300mm f2.8 are my two favorite low light elk lenses.

4X4 In Low Light-Winslow Hill Road
One cannot tell from the angle of the photo above but this bull will be at least a 5x5 as his main beams were beginning to fork into another set of points.  I cannot be certain as bulls with this general configuration are quite common,  but I think I filmed this bull several miles from this spot on Thursday morning with the GH4, but this was video only so I cannot post a comparison shot.

The next photo was taken at 5:44 a.m. on June 15th and  helps make the point that one needs to be out early. The equipment used was the 5D MKIII and 600mm F4 IS lens.  It was taken at ISO 1000 at 1/60 sec. f4.5.

Bachelor Group Interacting
The last photo for the day contradicts my advice somewhat as you did not need to be out extra-early to get it as these bulls were still in the meadow at 7:08 a.m. on June 16th.

Still Out After Sunrise On A Foggy Morning
I hope you enjoyed the photographs and remember that the key to success is getting up early and staying out late.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill