We found nine bulls together in an area where we had previously observed eleven together. One of the nine could be immediately identified as not being one of the eleven from three weeks ago as he was yet another bull with a "knob" for the right antler and this one has a poorly formed left antler.
The picture below is being offered as an example of preferential harvest. The bull in that picture was very typical (according to my grandfather) for Pa at that time and the herd was hunted to almost extinction with little regard for conservation. However, note the maturity of the whitetail deer in the picture. That "quality" of bucks became a thing that was rarely harvested until the last few years when the Pa Game Commission has implemented a deer management program to better enable bucks to get to a mature age. Our camp still stands a short distance from where this picture was taken and it is hard to even find a whitetail deer in that area now, let alone a "trophy" buck!
We were able to enjoy 4 bulls feeding and sparring for three hours with friends Willard Hill, Richard Coy and Ron "Buckwheat" Saffer. These photographs are "crops" of the originals that can be found on our photography website. The cropping has been done for the blog to illustrate the size of the bulls versus the normal photographic composition. I will be posting a "proper" rule of thirds photo of each for comparison later today.
The weekend ended with a fun session with a pileated woodpecker in a tree next to the cabin where we were staying. The weekend elk sessions and the final session with the pileated confirmed my love/hate relationship with the 200-400 Nikor f4 lens. As long as the subjects are close, the lens performs superbly and gets very sharp pictures. When the object being photographed is much beyond 75 feet if a full sized animal or 30 feet if a small object such as the wood pecker, the image starts getting soft on sharpness.
The parting "shot" for this week has to do with the ethics and good behavior of elk observation. We are guests in Elk Country and we should respect private landowners when we are there. One land owner talked with me and indicated that he appreciated the fact that I stayed in the highway to take pictures and that i parked my vehicle off the highway out of the way. He said that a growing number of visitors to the area have little to no regard for private property and folks have gotten up in the morning only to find elk viewers and photographers not only on their property but on their decks! A few inconsiderate people can spoil the fun and ability to enjoy these animals if this type of behavior persists. If we observe such behavior, we should not wait for the land owner to challenge the individuals. We should challenge and educate them ourselves.