It was a spur-of-the-moment decision to head for Pennsylvania’s elk range. The decision was based more on an increasing case of cabin-fever than any need to actually see or photograph elk. The computer’s hard drive contains hundreds of photographs of elk of all sizes and ages, elk in all seasons – but, what the heck it was a good reason to get on the road and in the woods.
Having left after a quick early lunch there wasn’t going to be time to walk far from the roads and parking areas on Winslow Hill, but at this time of year there wouldn’t be the hordes of tourists that frequent (some would say infest) the area during the fall rut.
In a field in one of the long-abandoned hill farms a band of elk was bedded down –
Except for one young bull sporting a pair of spike antlers that still bore the remnants of velvet, this was a band of cows and calves –
After about a half-hour the elk gradually arose to graze in the field –
Along the large stream, Bennetts Branch of Sinnemahoning Creek, that drains much of the elk range there were a few elk in the open woodland –
Including a couple of bulls that were probably 2 ½ years old –
Unlike white-tailed deer that usually lose their antlers in January or early February, bull elk hold their antlers into March or April. The last two photographs were taken as night was rapidly setting in - it was time to head for home.
It was dark as I drove past the post office the village of Driftwood and something caught my eye. That something was a trio of impressive bull elk feeding on the grass on a south-facing portion of the post office’s lawn. By pushing the camera’s ISO setting to its limit, and using the slowest shutter speed that could barely be used with the unsupported camera, images of the elk could be captured –
The largest of the bulls was backlighted by lights in the post office’s lobby which made the resultant photograph one for the trash.
There’s no quality to the photographs from so late in the day, but they do show that photos are possible in the full dark of 8:00 pm on a cloudy February evening.