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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, 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.



Anonymous said...

What beautiful pictures! Thank you for your talents and sharing them!

Tom Daniels said...

Tom--greatly enjoy your photography skills,WOW !!! My wife and I spent a lot of time with the elk in Sept and Oct down on the hill--your work is fantastic !!!

Britney said...

I agree! I work for a non-profit developing education programs for kids and would love to use some of your photos if possible. Of course I would credit you.