Go west not-so-young man, and woman too. It was a really pretty winter day: not too hot, not too cold, blue sky with a few white clouds, and a bit of a breeze – just about perfect for a trip to Pennsylvania’s elk range. And so off we went to see some elk.
H spotted the first we saw, two bulls near the road of which one had really odd antlers that went out to the side –
In the heart of the elk range what attracted our attention but a flock of robins feeding on the fallen fruit of a staghorn sumac. Back in the olden days with their typical cold winters and deep snow robins never would have been there, but times have changed and there they were –
Then we found a band of five bull elk, these four –
Plus this bull with a broken-off antler; he seemed to be an outcast and never got close to the others, but never strayed far either –
They grazed on the grasses and forbs of an area that had been mowed late in the season, giving me ample opportunity to take photographs. Here are a few –
The largest bull had an impressive set of antlers which he’ll shed shortly before his new antlers begin growing –
Beside the two of us, how many people have gotten a great deal of pleasure from seeing that big bull, how many photos have been taken of him? Next fall his antlers may well be larger and he’ll be more habituated to humans so even more people will be pleased to see him – until the hunting season for elk when one hunter’s bullet may bring him down.
By the time we were done watching and photographing the bulls, the sun was getting low in the sky and we decided to head for home while at least part of the drive would be in the daylight.
As we passed an overgrown field an early-rising opossum was out and about searching for something to eat –
A short drive beyond the opossum, in another mowed field, were some more bull elk –
Including the young bull with the wide-spreading antlers that we’d seen earlier in the day –
OK now it was really time to head home, having seen 18 bull elk but no cows. I spoke too soon, a short way beyond was a cow with her last-year’s calf –
With those last couple of images it was too dark for photographs, but we could still get half-way home before it was fully dark.