The Majestic Elk of Pennsylvania

November 09, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

The Elk is one of the largest species of the Deer family, the Moose being the largest, it’s also one of the largest mammals we have in North America. Elk are also called wapiti, a Native American word that means "light-colored deer." Elk are related to deer but are much larger than most of their relatives. A bull (male) elk's antlers may reach 4 feet above its head, so that the animal towers 9 feet tall. Bull elk lose their antlers each March, but they begin to grow them back in May in preparation for the late-summer breeding season. In early summer, elk migrate to high mountain grazing grounds where the cows (females) will give birth. Each cow typically has a single calf, which can stand by the time it is 20 minutes old. During the late summer breeding season the bugling of bull elk echoes through the mountains. These powerful animals strip the velvet off their new antlers using them in violent clashes that determine who gets to mate with whom. Males with the bigger antlers, typically older animals, usually win these battles and dominate small herds. In the winter, wapiti reconvene into larger herds, though males and females typically remain separate. The herds return to lower valley pastures where elk spend the season pawing through snow to browse on grass or settling for shrubs that stand clear of the snow cover. I spent 3 hours with a Gang of Elk it consisted of 4 extremely large Bulls. There were 79 Elk in total the Bulls thou they did not clash they keep their distance from one another one would periodically chase the others if they came to close. There was definitely a pecking order. I was able to get with in a hundred feet of the Gang, I did not want to disturb them they were comfortable enough to bed down with me there, so I keep my distance. I spent all morning tracking this Gang so when I came upon them I was so excited I had to control my breathing so the camera would not shake. It was amazing to watch them interact with each other, watching the Bulls bellow out there calls as if they were competing with each other. Chasing each other off when they got to close to one of their Cows. It was a fantastic day in the mountains of Pennsylvania.

 


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