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10.21.2018

More Autumn Elk Watching in Pennsylvania

Perhaps the nicest and most exciting drama in nature is seeing the Pennsylvania's Elk Herd during their rut. Watching the groups of elk graze, and the bulls fight over mates, is extremely exciting and exhilarating. The scenery in the area alone is worth a trip though, especially in autumn. The beauty of the outdoors is on full display in this region, and seeing the grazing elk is a wonderful plus to that. 
We started with a stop at the Marion Brooks Reserve in the Moshannon State Forest and the Quehanna Wild Area. It is home to a spectacular stand of white birches, one of the most noted groves in this region of the country. They are neat to see in any season, but we missed the color this year on them, since they change and drop earlier than most of the tree species in Pennsylvania. 
The Bennett Branch of the Sinnemahoning Creek could easily be classified as a small river. The scenery along it is spectacular, and is even better when you see elk within the creek, like we did last year. 

Now we head over towards Benezette and the Winslow Hill Area. 
A group of elk. These creatures are majestic and stunning to see. The best time to see the most of them is as sunset begins to approach and at dusk. They get more active, and during the rut you will see different groups of them start to clash, with the bull elk charging each other and locking antlers, with the relentless and unmistakeable sounds of bugling and clashing antlers. It is truly exhilarating to experience.  
It is mesmerizing watching their graceful moves as they graze.
Our next stop takes us up to the Elk Country Visitor's Center, where they have a interpretive center museum covering the species of the region and the history of Pennsylvania's elk herd. We had a nice lunch of beef brisket and fries from the Benezette Hotel's food wagon, which has high quality and affordable food. 
Some elk were in the woods at the center.
Spectacular views like this one can be seen from the property at the Elk Country Visitor Center, which sits atop a hill. You do not always see elk at the center, but it is worth a stop to learn more about the species. On our first visit to the center, about 6 years ago, the fields surrounding the center were covered with a huge herd of elk. On this visit, we saw about 10 of them scattered about in the woods at the visitor center. Within a 10 mile radius or so, we easily saw hundreds of elk.  
Some early color
The maples approaching full color.
Brit took these shots on my camera at the visitor center. 
I love the detail on the tree in this shot.
This view was taken just beyond Winslow Hill at the Woodring Farm Area. This is property was recently made public for elk viewing and it offers an excellent little hike into elk grazing areas. Two young bulls were resting in the field, surely getting their energy up for their fighting later.

We did not see any elk at the Dent's Run Overlook on this visit, but the views alone are worth checking out.
A little further down the road
There were no elk at the Hick's Run Viewing area, but this view of the Sinnemehoning Creek Valley was more than worth a stop.
Now we head to the other side of the creek from Benezette. In recent years they have added new areas for elk viewing, and this year they added a new parking area that is not intrusive and allows for more access. We saw at least 50 or more elk in this spot on this particular trip. This was also the most fruitful spot on our last few visits, including on our last visit in the winter, and our last fall visit. 
A bull in the middle of a bugle call.
Several elk relaxing and eating.
While the bulls bugle and prepare to fight other approaching bulls.
As I look at these photos, I am reminded of the plethora of sounds and the feeling of dew settling and crisp autumn air. 
Two groups of elk meeting up. The approaching elk were in the midst of running.
The only two elk that were aggressive at this point were these two bulls, which were locking antlers.
Hmmmm...What will happen next?
More bulls locking antlers. 
And a closing view at sunset of the Bennett Branch of the Sinnemahoning Creek. There is something truly magical about this region and we highly recommend checking it out. The best time to see elk is in the hours approaching sunset, and into dusk.



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