Back in September I visited Pennsylvania’s elk range at the peak of the breeding season and recently went back again. By mid-October the elks’ breeding activity is rapidly drawing to a close. Almost all of the females have already been impregnated and the bulls are fatigued from chasing cows and battling rival males.
The big bull that the group of elk photographers call Limpy, and was the subject of a video in my post "September Elk", was still hanging out with some cows --
and would bugle occasionally,
but made no effort to mate with any of the cows.
A younger, but mature, bull that was several hundred yards away was more interested in breeding, was still bugling vigorously and pursuing the cows in his band.
As the light grew dim (almost too dim for photography) on a day that had turned cloudy I headed back to the car for the trip home, another big old bull was continuing to bugle but not chasing any of the nearby cows.
In early November comes elk hunting season for which the Pennsylvania Game Commission has issued 108 licenses. Elk hunting in Pennsylvania has been rather controversial since seasons began in 2001; with some landowners and farmers wanting the population reduced, hunters wanting the opportunity to shoot a trophy and naturalists, elk viewers and photographers wanting the elk to expand their range and an increase in the number of large photogenic bulls.
I’ll return to the elk range in mid-winter to see and photograph the elk again – may they always roam these hills and valleys.