On a foggy morning, I located a big bull. He was reported to intimidate any smaller bull that came near. I called him Big Nasty. He moved through the woods with not a sound, never catching the rack on any obstructions. (He clearly knew I was there, looking directly at me.)
|Big Nasty- a Dominate Bull Elk|
The elk would approach very closely at times. This cow wandered in behind me and joined the bull's harem. She is a stately looking animal. (She had no calf with her.)
|Maybe a yearling?|
|Alert while the ladies feed.|
Within his harem was the first piebald elk ever recorded in Pennsylvania. Piebald is a genetic variation in which the face is white. She looked a bit scruffy to me.
|Piebald Cow and Calf|
The cows would sometimes wander into the trees, and the bull would follow possibly concerned about another bull sneaking in. He'd return with the cow and often begin bugling so strongly one could see his breath.
|Big Nasty in full voice.|
On another day, I saw a group of cows and calves cross a creek on their way to some woods to rest in the midday.
After they had disappeared into the woods on the far bank, the bull appeared and lowered his nose to track their path across the creek within feet of the cows' track.
We just don't easily comprehend their acute sense of smell that is so critical to their survival.
I don't think I will ever tire of hearing an elk bugle. It is worth the trip just to hear it, and getting close just builds my appreciation for this majestic wild animal.