Returned to Pennsylvania’s elk range several times during the rut, which usually begins in early to mid-September and ends about a month later in mid-October. On the drive out I was able to photograph a bull elk fording Sinnemahoning Creek –
The most reliable and favorite place for most people to see elk has been on Winslow Hill, a spot that had once been an area of small farms, was then extensively strip-mined for coal and where some of the old farms have more recently been subdivided and developed for hunting camps. Much of the of the surrounding land has been state forest land for many decades and many of the old farms and mined land have been acquired by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, reclaimed and managed for elk habitat.
But, recent tourist-oriented developments by both the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Game Commission have also markedly changed Winslow Hill. DCNR was the lead on creating the Elk Country Visitors Center – a grandiose edifice –
And the Game Commission created a parking lot and viewing area –
The viewing area offers a distant view of “The Saddle”, one of the reclaimed strip mines –
The large grasslands on and around The Saddle have been an area frequented by both some very large bulls and those seeking to photograph them. This year, the only large bull elk that I saw at The Saddle was a bull with a broken tine that loomed out of the fog one morning, and was still nearby just before sunset that evening –
There were other fairly large bulls on Winslow Hill, but most kept far from the hordes of visitors. Toward the end of the rut, one of those bulls had a small band of cows.
Several of the cows were lying down and were repeatedly approached by the amorous bull. Whenever he approached one, she would extend her neck and lay her head on the ground. The bull would then stroke her back with his chin and neck – all to no avail since by the end of the rut virtually all of the cows would have already been bred.