A bull elk nose to nose with a cow

An Outing with the Elk

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.

Town Elk
An elk visits the neighbors in Benezette

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!

A fawn in the brush
This fawn saunters through the brush

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.

A mother and baby elk
A mother and baby elk stroll across the field

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.

A bull elk nose to nose with a cow
The bull elk shares a moment with a potential mate

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.

4 thoughts on “An Outing with the Elk”

  1. Wow, Aaron, love these shots. How did you get so close to capture them? I’ve been trying to get deer near my house and they always seem to run away….

    1. The elk don’t care too much about people during mating season in Benezette. Whole herds of them will just stand by the road.

      Deer are a bit tougher, but I just move very slowly and use a long lens!

      Thanks for checking out this article! More to come!

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