Living just a short distance from Winslow Hill we tend to spend a lot of time up there soaking up the beauty and of course photographing the elk herd. While we do photograph them all times of the year, our favorite time happens in September when the elk rut goes full swing. This Blog Post will deal with the 2015 Elk Rut and anything related to that.
Because of the recent changes up on the hill and surrounding areas we went into the 2015 rut with a lot of apprehension. In the spring of this year I gathered a select group of wildlife photographers and we met with the Pa Game Commission to discuss the subject of certain areas that would most likely become Restricted Areas. We met with them in the spring at the newly acquired Woodring Farm which was a joint purchase between the PGC and the RMEF. The plans for that property were not carved in stone at that time but there was discussion of a short hiking trail up to an overlook and possibly building a small building at the bottom for offices or headquarters. As it turned out they have constructed a viewing platform up at the overlook that is definitely awesome and worth checking out. Kudos to the PGC for this. At this meeting we also discussed the new parking lot project that was slated to be completed prior to the start of the rut.
In regard to the subject of new Restricted Areas up on the hill, emotions ran high but tempers were contained. We did appreciate the opportunity to discuss this and although we didn't change the world in regard to that subject, my opinion is that those changes didn't really negatively affect us to any great degree. Again, this is my opinion only! I believe we still have plenty of non restricted areas where we can photograph and I do believe that something had to be done up there because it was out of control.
Okay, I had mentioned that the other topic discussed was the Parking Lot project at the top of Dewey Road. I will not go into this at any length because I believe I have already been quite vocal on my feelings regarding this poor design which was very expensive and a complete failure. I will post a couple pictures to show what chaos this has caused and our fear is that someone is going to get hurt as a result of this botched design. Part of this plan was to eliminate the parking along Dewey Rd which was unnecessary and such a pity. This was the one place where older folks or people with disabilities could sit in their cars or by their cars and watch the elk. We will never understand why this was eliminated. While they say it was to reduce the chance of habituation of the elk, how does that explain making provisions for busses and how does that justify riding a wagon load of people through the elk herd up at the Visitor Center? And to add to this stupidity, they provide paved handicapped parking spots but yet gravel paths over to the viewing platform that most handicap people can't navigate. I just don't get it!!
So enough about this, lets get to the pictures. I had posted on Facebook that I had some Elk Porn and I was on the fence whether I should post it on FB or not. It was suggested that I post those pics on my Blog so that is what I'm doing. If this offends anyone, scroll quickly past them. Thus far the 2015 rut has been a disappointment with a lot less bulls and very little competition for the cows. With the number of bull tags issued for this hunting season I suspect next year will be worse. We also have noticed a downturn in the number of calves this year. In my eyes, the future of Winslow Hill looks grim. I hope I'm wrong but I don't think so. The number of elk are way down up on the hill and the number of visitors are way up. I will also post pictures of stupid people with zero common sense.
Okay, here's some pics!
Here is a pic of the chaos that now exists at a place that used to be a nice setup. Our fear is that someone will get hit by a car because of this poorly designed project.
This picture shows people with little kids walking down through a clearly signed Restricted Area.
How's this for stupid! I was so afraid that this bull was going to go after this cell phone photographer. At one point this bull turned and headed toward this guy and I was afraid this was not going to be pretty.
This was the traffic situation at Woodring Farm.
Here is a picture that I contemplated whether I should post or not. If you watch the Live Elk Cam, this is the cam. I will not say where it is but we stumbled onto it by accident because we misinterpreted the Restricted Signs. We haven't checked to see if the signs have been changed but we still see people showing up on the Live Cam. We definitely will not go in there again.
Do yourself a favor and walk up to this platform and enjoy the awesome view.
We call this guy Goofy.
How about we swap a little spit big guy!
Giddy up cowgirl!
Okay, I promised Elk Porn, well here you be! Just so you don't think badly of this big fella, she did consent to this.
I guess I couldn't resist taking a shot at Bruce Jenner.
I guess I couldn't resist taking a shot at Bruce Jenner.
How about a little cuddling first?
This fella is on a mission and the mission is romance.
What an awesome rack! I fear he won't make it through the hunting season.
Okay, everybody up!
This big fella was a bit on the ornery side and went right after another bull that was trying to get away with stealing a couple cows.
Check out the little decoration on his head.
He's in charge mode!
I actually think the green brings out my eyes.
Typically the golden light is a photographers best friend but not always. I think it was my foe rather than my friend in this photo.
Just a hint of the golden light helped to illuminate this scene.
He lets out the mighty bugle but he sure isn't a Limpy!
Raking a little hay.
I just couldn't resist posting this photo.
Some photos need no words!
As the rut moves forward, broken antlers become a common sight.
This big guy bid us goodnight and I said, see you in the morning.
I know I have mentioned this many times before but it bears repeating. Several of the pictures appear to have been taken at very close range but that is not the case at all. I shoot with long lenses that put me quite a distance form the animals. I do not condone trying to see how close I can get to the Elk or any wildlife that I photograph.
Exceptionally well written article, Tom.
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