Last Wednesday I made a trip up to the elk range, it was my first trip back since early May. Since then antlers have been growing, fawns and calves were being born, and the landscape has begun to take on the more mature look of summer. In about a week the days will begin getting shorter once again, believe it or not.
While out and about in the Quehanna Wild Area I came upon my first fawn of the season. It was standing there looking at me, probably hoping I would pass by without noticing. I took a few snapshots and moved on as to not disturb it or it's mother who may not be far off.
I didn't see any elk calves on my trip, more than likely they are well hidden and not traveling with their mothers quite yet. I prefer to leave them in peace until they are ready to show themselves on their own anyway. I did see plenty of bulls with various sizes of antler growth, mostly determined by the age class the bull was in. All were on the young side and were either hanging out with other bulls or with several cows. Such was the case with this young bull I photographed along Dents Run. He was with several other small bulls and a few cows.
Most of the bulls I saw today will be relegated to being satellite bulls when the rut starts, some of them won't even reach that status. Occasionally one of these younger bulls will get a harem of cows in September and start to think they are the 'real deal' but that pipe dream usually doesn't last very long. Some will relive that dream come mid-October and beyond but most of the cows will have been bred by then so it's mostly going through the motions of being a herd bull.
I did see some grassland birds that I've always wanted to photograph, though the photo opportunities were not great. I saw quite a few Bobolinks and another bird that I actually had to look up the identification on, the Dickissel.
Occasionally, if you know when and where to look, there are spots in elk country that reveal their past even though man has tried his best to remove all traces of what once was. They endure, harkening back to a simpler time. Most of todays visitors to the elk range will be oblivious to them, passing them off as just part of nature.
It was a good trip, it usually is. One can't help but look forward to the elk rut, but it's best to enjoy each season for what it is.