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We are known as PaWingers or just The Wingers by our Geocaching friends. When we found our first cache we had to come up with a name to log the find. We came up with this name simply because of residing in Pa. and because one of our many passions is cruising this beautiful country on our Honda Goldwing. Aside from geocaching we are passionate about most anything outdoors including hiking, kayaking, snowmobiling and biking. We are blessed beyond words with a wonderful son and daughter in law. We're also blessed with some terriffic family and friends. We consider ourselves very fortunate due to the fact that after being married over 40 years we still enjoy these things together.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In search of young elk calves

One thing that is certain in regard to wildlife photography is that our local elk are most cooperative when it comes to getting photographed.  That is something we can't say for fawns, fox, beavers, bears, ducks, eagles and I can go on and on.  When I say elk are very cooperative that doesn't mean that elk images don't come without challenges.  We have loads of photo's of huge majestic bulls and large herds of cows.  We have photo's of bulls in the many stages they exhibit throughout the year.  We've hid behind trees, tried to predict their route to get ahead of them and crawled through tick infested fields trying to get the desired shot.  Sounds like fun doesn't it? 

Lately we have found a new challenge in regard to elk photography.  That challenge surfaced this year when we decided we needed some nice images of elk calves.  Suddenly we found the cooperative elk weren't so cooperative. 

When calves are born it's not likely you will just see them grazing out in an open field with a large herd of other elk.  This time of the year for elk is a bit different.  The large and sprouting bulls will often hang out together.  Large groups of cows can easily be seen in the open fields chomping away on the tasty greens.  But if you are looking for elk calves you need to be looking for a lone cow or possibly two lone cows.  If you spot one or two cows in a rather secluded spot there's a chance you will see a calf or two there.  If the grass is tall you may only see the grass move from the movement of the calf and seeing the calf could be difficult.  One must also respect the motherly instinct when a calf is spotted with it's mommy.  They can be very protective.  Sure we work hard for good images but we still need to respect the animals and not cause them undo stress. 

After many years of photographing elk we decided this year we needed to concentrate on getting some good pics of calves.  The window of opportunity for this is quite small.  Bear in mind, calves will be as big as a mature deer within 6 months of birth.  This year we walked lots of miles in a effort to see some calves within shooting range.  Several evenings were spent walking and no calves were located.  One night we spotted one but the combination of darkness and distance made a good image impossible.  After many days and nights and lots of hiking miles we were beginning to give up hope of good pictures this year.

  Last weekend we caught a break.  We had planned on calling it a night earlier than usual when we caught a glimpse of a couple cows tucked away in a deep ravine.  We decided we'd sneak back in and take a look.  This was to be our lucky night because there were 3 young calves with their mothers.  One calf stayed back in the trees with mommy.  One beat feet when we got close.  The third calf seemed to be insistent on staying in his bed and we weren't sure we would get pictures of that one.  Just as we were giving up hope this young calf rose from the bed, stretched for a second and then took off for the trees.  I only had maybe 20-30 seconds to snap away and hope for some good images.  Just before entering the trees this calf stopped and looked back at us giving us a golden opportunity.  Finally our determination paid off and the night was a success.  This is what we love about wildlife photography.

Hmmm, it's brown and has ears and appears to have spots, but is it an elk calf?

Yup, it was!

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