Thursday, March 8, 2018

Wintertime Elk

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.


  1. What a wonderful post, Woody, and the photos taken as darkness set in are just great, even if not up to your standards! :)
    Reading your post made me look to Wikipedia for information on our Canadian elk.
    The subject of is very interesting to this British Columbian/Albertan...I've lived on either side of the Rockies, not close but within reach by car. My father was a keen outdoorsman (not a hunter) and I consider myself very fortunate that he shared his love of the wild with us and with others via his books on The Rivers of British Columbia.
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  2. Elk were hunted out from our area. In conjunction with BC government ministry and local organizations, elk have been relocated to our backcountry. The herds are monitored and after many years an annual elk draw is conducted with limited hunting permits. This helps keep the population size in check to match local environmental resources. Last summer were riding our quads at the head of Powell Lake and were fortunate to see a herd of 22 elk including a large buck, many cows and lots of young. This is proof that relocation can work for animals and people alike. - Margy

  3. Wow! Wish I were there with you. Amazing shots!

  4. Hello, I can understand having to get out, the cabin fever is going around. LOL. Love your elk photos, what a great sight to see. The males are impressive. Thank you so much for linking up your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

  5. Exciting finds! Love that bull elk so much, but the others are wonderful! I would have given anything to see such elk on our trip to Colorado three and a half years ago with our grandson! We saw a few females at a great distance, and the only ones close-up ended up being in an enclosure, so we assumed they were being raised for meat which was sad!


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