About Me

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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.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Wandering in the Pa Wilds

As we wander the Pennsylvania Wilds it is so apparent that beauty is pretty much all around us.  If you view it's beauty from the comfort of your car there's miles and miles of roads that provide snapshots of the wonders that lie just beyond the berms.  If you venture down the vast network of trails your efforts will be rewarded more than you would ever dream.  One thing I have learned over the years is that if we felt the need to capture images of every landscape that caught our fancy we would be overwhelmed with external hard drives and other digital storage.  While it's true that there are many times that we simply can't pass up snapping multiple images of a scene that unfolds in front of us we devote most of our attention to the creatures that live in our forests.

It's mid July and the local elk herd are scattered and difficult to find.  The bulls are often gathered in small groups but for the most part far from the cows.  The big bulls spend their time eating, and eating more, and eating more again.  At this point they are hanging with their bull buddies.  Yup, it's just like their best of friends as they feed, often shoulder to shoulder.  They eat together, they rest in the shade together and they sleep together.  After all they are best buds!  This will all change with the start of the rut when they will battle sometimes to the fatal end as they fight for the ladies.  At that point the scene will take on a completely different look.

So here we are, July is almost in the history books.  What is it about mid summer that makes the local critters different than any other time of the year.  Well for one thing the bulls and buck are in velvet and their antlers look amazing at this time.  The velvet is fully intact and the tips are rounded and although still growing they are still amazing.  Their coats are absolutely flawless at this time of the year.  Anyone that has seen an elk when they are transitioning from their cold weather coat to their warm weather coat can attest to the fact that they can look pretty rough.  At this point the colors are rich and the texture so smooth.  Same goes for the deer and the elk.  Mid summer also means that you will be seeing spotted fawns and calves.  There just is nothing cuter than a spotted young one running around playing in the fields.  They often literally bounce as they chase around playing but always keeping an eye out for their mother so if they need a quick refreshment she is nearby.

Here is just a brief view of some mid summer elk and deer.  We are already picking out some main contenders for the fall rut.  While we don't want to wish our summer away we can't wait for the fall rut of 2012.
 How's this for a nice 9 x 9

 Just best of buddies at this point!

 I would pay big dollars for a fly swatter!

 Okay, You gotta admit, I'm really cute!

I know what you're thinking, I'm just a young buck but someday I'll also be a force to reckon with.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Mid July Bulls in Elk County

"You are so lucky to live so close".......  These are words that we have muttered dozens of times for various reasons.  I recall muttering these words as we biked a beautiful trail.  We have muttered these words as we kayaked a beautiful stretch of desolate backwoods water.  We have also said it as we sat with fellow photographers overlooking a family of nesting Bald Eagles on a mountain side.  Now don't get me wrong I'm certain many people have muttered these same words to us because of the beautiful area we live in.   Early this morning I was set up next to a small field watching as the fog lifted exposing  a small group of bulls feeding on some tasty grass.  I thought to myself, "I sure am lucky to live so close".  This morning was once again an "in your face" reminder of the beauty that surrounds our home in Elk County.

Every time of the year holds it's own charm and excitement for a devout elk fanatic.  Mid July does provide a bit of a challenge when photographing elk.  The hot afternoons aren't times that you are apt to find groups of elk gathered in fields.  While it's true you may find a straggler here and there crossing a road or grazing in a field but these will be rare sightings.  Now if you care to crawl out of bed before the big light introduces a new day you could be in for a treat.  Same goes for the evening as you are most likely to see groups out in the fields grazing just before dark.  This also means you will be shooting in low light so a fast lens and tripod are essential.

Mid July also means that you'll most likely find large bulls grazing together but separate from the groups of cows and calves.  These large bulls seem to be best of buddies in mid summer.  Mid July also means the bulls are reaching the peak of their antler growth.  At this point the velvet is thick and plush and fully intact and the tines are still somewhat rounded.   Mid July is a wildlife photographers dream because of the beauty of the antlers and at this time of the year the coats are absolutely beautiful. 

Friday evening we photographed 4 nice bulls in a nearby field.  One of the bulls was particularly interesting to us.  Earlier in the spring we had photographed a bull only a couple miles from here.  This particular bull had a very unusual new antler growth and we had hoped to track his growth throughout the year but we could never locate him after that evening.  After spotting this bull Friday evening we are convinced this was him.  He still has a rather unusual rack but it ended up much better than we had expected.
This is how he looked in April

Here he is in July

Definitely a strange looking rack

Saturday morning I was up before light and headed out for some early morning shots.  I first checked out the field where we had shot some bulls the night before and sure enough there were some beautiful bulls grazing.  I shot many frames of these elk and then moved on. 

Captured minutes before total darkness

Curly sure has a beautiful rack

He's really enjoying breakfast

Now that's a bunch of Bull!!!
My next stop was on Dewey Road.  As I conversed with a few folks from Juniata we watched a group of elk out in front of us.  There were 2 or 3 calves in this group of cows.  As we glassed the next hill over we we saw maybe 50 more cows and a handful of calves.  What I found especially interesting is how vocal these elk were this morning.  I honestly have never heard so much barking, yelping and bugling outside of the rut season.  I was zoomed in on a cow when she let loose with a bugle that would rival a large bull except for the deep belly grunting at the end.  What an amazing morning!  We are so lucky to live so close to this magical place!