About Me

My photo
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.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Close Encounters Videos

The morning light had just gotten bright enough to make out the silhouettes of a small herd of elk grazing below me.  Between the low light and the heavy fog it was difficult to see the size of the herd and although I suspected there was a bull present I had not yet caught sight of him.  Within a few minutes that all changed as the sun raced upward welcoming a new day.  Not only did it illuminate the fog and give it a rosy pastel glow it also provided the necessary light to confirm that a large bull was working his way toward me and closing in fast.  I knew the light was apt to change quickly so I shot frame after frame as I jockeyed for position in hopes of using the morning glow to my benefit.
This particular bull was named Fish Hook and I'm not so sure he was all that happy to be the subject of my attention.  At times his bugling sounded more like a war cry than a love call and I couldn't help but think it was me that he wanted to declare war on.

For the next hour I stayed ahead of this bull and also photographed him and a couple other smaller bulls in hopes of witnessing a fight but other than a bit of chasing there was no contact.  I watched 3 bulls and maybe 25 cows for perhaps a half hour but I could see that things were winding down and I needed to get another game plan.

As I stood there deciding my next move I was hearing a fair amount of bugling further down and into the trees.  I decided that's where I needed to be.  With all my heavy gear I scrambled across the meadow and down into the wooded valley.  I no more than got down in there and became instantly aware that this was the place to be although maybe not the smart place to be.  The first thing I observed was a large bull literally shredding a small sapling as he scraped his antlers.  I quickly set up my camera on the tripod, switched to video and began filming.  I was so intent on filming that I hadn't realized that withing these few minutes I had become surrounded by several bulls and even more cows.  The woods was alive with activity and I had no place to hide so I did the only sensible thing and that was to film.  These videos will hopefully give you an idea of the intensity of the action.  Crank those speakers for the full effect.

Here are a some  links to the Videos I uploaded to You Tube


Sunday, October 7, 2012

My 2102 elk rut is now complete

Life can be full of surprises.  As of late August through mid September I had concerns whether the 2012 elk rut would develop into anything worth remembering.  The bulls seem to be gathered together but we had been watching them a pretty significant distance from Winslow Hill.  We had been photographing some bulls that could be a dominating force but had doubts if they would make the trek to the Winslow Hill area.  In regard to cows, we hadn't been observing many large groups but that didn't have us as concerned as the lack of bulls.   The 2102 rut was just around the corner but would it be like previous years? 
As we reached mid September things began to look encouraging.  We were observing more activity back in and natures alarm clock appeared to have sounded.  While it still seemed like it may not be a banner rut we were beginning to feel the excitement building.  The elk rut is an event that we and several photographer friends look to with tremendous enthusiasm.  There really is nothing that quite compares to the sights and sounds of the elk rut. It's a time that we welcome in the new day at sunrise and we stay with the herd until the last light of day dips below the horizon.  It's also a time to renew friendships with people that share the same passion.  We have met so many friends as a result of the rut and the fellowship is heartwarming.  We meet in odd places back with the herd and chat as we watch nature unfold before our eyes all the while glancing through the viewfinders in hopes of capturing that perfect pose.  Being part of this happening is a blessing.
Each year we capture literally thousands of images during the rut.  Some are deleted within moments of being taken.  Others make the initial cut and get to live on the storage cards for the trip home.  For many their stay with us is very short as we sort through them on the monitor.  This one is too blurred, this one is underexposed, this one overexposed, poor composition on this one and just don't like that  one.  After going through this process of elimination the numbers are drastically reduced but then the process is repeated once again.  Only the best make the cut!
Every elk enthusiast has a certain image that they strive for.  Some are after the perfectly symmetric rack while others are looking for a super sharp image with a beautiful background.  Everyone has their shots that they are looking for.  In our case we love all of these but each year we have hopes of witnessing a battle between two giant bulls.  From our conversations with other we aren't alone on this.  While we had a fantastic time photographing the 2012 rut it was apparent it was winding down and while we had witnessed several fights we hadn't gotten any good images for one reason or another.  We had pretty much accepted the fact that 2012 would go by without such an opportunity but in an instant our wishes unfolded right before our eyes.  As we watched Fish Hook, another bull moved in on his harem.  Fish Hook turned quickly and reared up on his hind legs and literally launched toward the competing bull.  Moment before, the only sound was that of bugling, cows chirping and the rustling of leaves from a gentle breeze.  Now the air was filled with the sound of clashing antlers and the grunting of these giant bulls as they tore into each other.  The power of these bulls is something that can't be described but needs to be witnessed to understand.  After a few short moments the battle was over and Fish Hook held is head high as he overlooked his harem.  Life is definitely full of surprises as we captured the images that we had pretty much decided would not happen this year.

We are pleased to say that the 2012 elk rut not only met our expectations but instead far exceeded our expectations.

This is maybe a third of the cows that are part of his harem.  We liked this shot because of the two cows smooching.


All days are good but some days are great!

Something came over me on Thursday morning as I headed to work. Perhaps it was the comfortable temperatures or the smell of autumn in the air. Quite possibly it was something even more powerful than these things. Without me even knowing it I believe I succumbed to the sounds of a distant bugle making it's way to my ear drum and right into my brain. It even took me by surprise because as I drove something clicked and I had this instant thought that I would be with the elk herd at mornings first light and then go into work a bit late. As I drove a bit further it's my belief that some giant bull bugled once again from some high ridge and my subconscious told me to take Friday off and make memories that will not fade for years to come.

I did follow the sound of the bugle, heeded it's advice and found myself among the herd on a beautiful early morning. As the title of this post says, "all days are good but some are great", this was the case on this day. Had I not seen any elk at all I could have easily said the day was a crown jewel. The sunrise illuminated the low lying fog up on the mountain as if you were walking through a field of Cotton Candy. Bugling surrounded me and the autumn smells made you feel the need to pinch yourself to see if you were alive or did you perish during the night and passed through the pearly gates. I've always heard that heaven will be a place of peace and tremendous beauty. Perhaps this is it! I pinch myself and say to myself, OUCH, that hurt stupid! So I apparently didn't perish through the night and I'm making my way back into the saddle. It's not heaven but it's running a close second.


Mother Nature woke up early in the morning and dipped her brush into this beautiful pastel color and with one skillful stroke painted the morning fog just for me.  Her artistry is unmatched. 

Even as the rose colored fog faded away one could still detect a slight tint on this side shot of Fish Hook.  He looked just a tad grumpy as he eyed me up in this image.