The Natural Wonders of Benezette, PA
It was a slow Sunday when my parents contacted me. They wanted to journey over to Benezette and see if the elk were around yet. For those who don’t know, the elk come out in the fall, during their mating season. It was early yet, but there was an off-chance we could get lucky. After all, Benezette is the elk mecca of Pennsylvania! So we decided to try our luck.
And luck out we did! The elk enjoy walking around town just as much as the forest, and we were treated to some bull sightings the moment we arrived. I wasn’t sure if I would get another chance to photograph a bull that day, so I decided to get a few shots in town. It’s very strange to observe an elk weaving between parked cars and wandering around on people’s porches and backyards. But in Benezette, that is just a typical day!
Of course, I like to get more natural-looking photos, so we headed up to the nature center next. There was some question whether or not it would even be open on Sunday, and they close the gate when the center is closed. But we were in luck, and the center was open. On the trail in front of the center, we didn’t see any elk. But we did see a fawn making its way through the forest. It stopped and posed for a few shots.
Next, we traveled to the giant field behind the nature center, and that’s where we found our quarry. Not just one elk, but a whole herd! There were many cows and small elk there. There was one little guy that was particularly vocal the entire time. It was very exciting, but the best was yet to come.
While I was busy trying to get some shots of mothers and babies, my parents excitedly informed me that there was a bull nearby! And he was a lot closer than I thought he would be – he was standing maybe 20 yards from the trail! He was quite a large one, and was a magnificent site to behold. I should point out here that I had my telephoto lens on the camera. Everyone else was trying to get closer to the bull, and I kept trying to back up! I did manage to get a few shots of him filling up the frame imposingly. I also got some neat shots of him interacting with the other elk. Very cool.
After that, we drove up to the top of the hill and were treated to a vivid sunset with an elk herd grazing in the foreground. All in all, it was quite a day. I’m sure we’ll be back again when the leaves start to change colors and the rutting season is in full swing.