Elk in Elk County PA

Elk in Elk County PA

Hey!  Did you know there are Elk herds in Central Pennsylvania?  I lived in PA most of my life and never knew it.  I knew PA had a gigajillion deer burgers still on the hoof and always jumping in front of cars for their kicks, but not Elk.  I thought you could only see Elk on TV where they always appear with a wolf clamped onto one of their hind legs.

Ok, so they are here in PA and I gotta see one.  Now, where do you find them?  Why in Elk county PA of course.

The Nexus for Elk is Elk County PA

Elk County is located north of I80 in PA not too far from the New York State line.  This is hunter’s territory.  Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothing is a fresh, new pair of camo overalls.  These are the places liberals in the big cities point to as “what’s wrong with America”.  But these deer hunters will be the first folks those helpless limp-wristed yellow intellectuals will turn to for protection and cans of hot creamed corn when “the hammer drops”.  All hells gonna break loose when the dark cloud of Socialism descends over us as our lives are taken over by Big Government.   Well … at least that is what all my PA relatives tell me.

After doing some research on the ‘net, I found there are plenty of tax-payer funded Elk “lookout” points peppered about Elk County.  These are structures of parking lot, stone wall, and plaques that help you tell an Elk from a groundhog.  So, off I went to Elk County and targeted these various lookouts deep and high in the PA Appalachian Mountains.  To get there from Philadelphia, I headed west across I80 to XT 147 at Snow Shoe PA and turned North into the great unknown.

The roads can be narrow, winding, beautiful, and seem to head into nowhere.  Driving along, I saw nothing but hunting cabins and small, wood frame buildings with no markings but a Pabst Blue Ribbon light in a lone window.  Make sure you gas up before you head into these hinterlands as you really don’t want to run out fuel in the middle of this forest.

What did I find at these well manicured, Government provided lookout points?  Nothing.  No Elk.  Good job Government, spending my tax dollars for my benefit and entertainment.  Like setting up a platform will naturally attract wild Elk.  OK, off to the Elk County Visitor Center…. closed.   Hmmm…. Now what?  I figured I would head into the local town of Benezette PA, just up from Weedville, and ask the locals where these buggers are hanging out.

Elk County is where the Elk are, but Benezette PA is their home town.  I really mean that, it is their home town.  Benezette has about 227 citizens, some buildings, a gas station, coupla roads, and…. ELK!!!  There they all were, hanging out in the town…. in lawns…  next to barns, swing sets, picnic tables, and an old rusted Buick appeared to be a favorite of some older bucks.

How to Photograph Elk

Hold camera up to face, focus, push shutter button.  Done.  If you can’t get a good shot of an Elk here, you should not own a camera.  These Elk were everywhere and very used to humans.  I had to bang on the roof of my car just to get one or two to look up at me.  Pull your car over, step out and start taking pictures.  They don’t move, at least very quickly, and are just well, standing around eating, sleeping, and crapping.  And crap they do!  Watch out where you step as there is Elk crap everywhere.

The biggest challenge to photographing these lumbering dopes is getting a shot without a gas grill or child’s big wheel in the picture.  Half the shots I took had either lawn furniture or an old sofa in the frame.  You may notice some structures like fences and such in the photos… I did my best to remove them using LightRoom 4.

Best Time of Year to go is Fall

Of course, I went in the spring…. wrong time to go.  Elk shed their furry coats and look really ratty in the Spring.  My cousin, an avid hunter and outdoorsman, said I was …. I think I heard him say…. “stupid” … for going in the Spring.  Best time to go is in October when they are in the rut.  The rut is a time when every male Elk turns into a crazed male teenager with way too much beer.  They “trumpet” and fight over females.  In Elkdom, it is the males that have the big racks and the one with the biggest gets the doe.

So, in my pics above, the Elk look ratty as they are shedding their winter fur, disinterested because the rut is over, lazy because the tourists are gone (except for dopey me), and they ain’t getting up for anything because hunting season is over.

Links for Elk in PA:

The Equipment:

  • Canon 5D MkII
  • Canon 24-105 L f/4.0 IS
  • Canon 500mm L f/4.0 IS
  • Gitzo 3530LS carbon fiber tripod
  • Wimberley II gimbal head
  • LightRoom 4

 

Location Types: Mountain. Galleries: Bugs and Critters and Elk. Tags: 500mm, 5D Mk II, and Gitzo Wimberly.

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