It was a beautiful morning with a forecast of a beautiful afternoon as well. So I said to H: “Would you like to go see some elk this afternoon?” “Sure” said she. With that we loaded the car with boots, snacks, several water bottles, sandwiches with accompaniments for supper – and off we went. Stopped along the way to pick up lunch at one of our favorite places (no indoor eating – thanks to COVID) and then continued our journey.
Early in the afternoon we got to one of the best places to see elk, and there they were, we could see 18 on a far off hillside –
We drove as close as we could get on an old road with protruding rocks and a few small gullies. Where the road was gated, it was time to walk uphill on a continuation of the road. Closer now, there were still elk near where we'd seen the 18: cows with this year’s calves and a few bulls –
They were alerted by this human's head appearing over the crest and some stood up –
After a few photos and not wanting to stress them further, it was time to head back down the hill. We drove to several other areas looking for more animals and found another band along a fencerow at the edge of a field. That band was on the move, walking down across the field, occasionally stopping to feed and coming ever closer –
One cow that was wearing a radio collar stopped and her calf, which also had a radio collar, proceeded to nurse. Apparently Mom was quite willing to tolerate the calf’s nursing because the calf continued for quite a while with much head-butting (called bunting) to release more milk –
They continued across the field until they were quite close to us –
We were still watching the elk when the sun dropped to and below the horizon, producing a beautiful sunset –
As night set in it was time to head for home. We drove down along Sinnemahoning Creek and found a band of bulls in a field, some were larger than any of the elk we’d seen earlier in the day and barely visible in the deep valley's darkness (although there was still a red-orange glow in the western sky). Fortunately, one of my cameras is really good at capturing images in poor light, not high quality photographs –
But after some editing and a little cropping on the computer, good enough –
One of the smaller bulls in the group went from one of his companions to another, challenging each to spar a bit –
Homeward bound, passing a few white-tailed deer at the road's edge, other deer looming out of the darkness as they stood in the road – resulting in frequent application of the brakes! Got home in time to quickly download more than 500 photographs to edit the next morning and have dessert: a glass of milk and a few cookies – a tasty end to a great afternoon.