Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Otter at the Ponca Access 10/31/12

River Otter, Buffalo National River
River Otter, Ponca Access, Buffalo National River 10/31/12
The Buffalo National River is nothing if not unpredictable. There are a lot of otter and if you visit pay attention for unexpected ripples in the water, and activity along the banks.

Otter are fun to watch and to take pictures of. Getting a decent photo is like playing Whack-A-Mole with your camera.

It is worthwhile to just sit at the river and wait to see what happens. Today this otter hung around for a while, then elk migrated across the Ponca Access, , and a little later  I saw an 8 point buck cross the river downstream.

10/31/12 Final October Elk Herd Map

This morning there were 4 elk herds in Boxley Valley and straggler elk elsewhere. Some imagine that the rut is over, but it is only slowly tailing off. Elk viewing and photography will be very good for some time to come.  Tomorrow I will post an entry about how to think about this point in the rut, and it will show pictures taken in the past much later than this date.

Great action is far from over and it will extend until next year. In many ways the months ahead offer great opportunities to see and photograph the biggest elk.

This morning I had a pretty good shoot, but it turned out to be elk, a juvenile otter and a whitetail buck crossing the Buffalo. You never know what you will see when you visit the Buffalo National River. The elk were still out when I left the valley at 10 AM.

October 31, 2012 Elk Herd Locations in Boxley Valley, Ponca, AR

Final October Elk Herd Locations 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Shot of the Day 10/30/12

This is the Boxley Stud. He is rutting in the south end of the valley. Easily the biggest bull this year.

Taken in very tough conditions with the light coming straight at us. Fortunately these guys were in relative shade. I had to over expose 1 stop to open up the neck detail on these elk.

Rutting Bull Elk, Buffalo National River October 2012

10/30/12 Elk Herd Locations Update

Herd locations are pretty stable as the rut continues into its second month. There were 4 rutting herds this morning, a sign that the rut is far from over even though November is just days away. There is only occasional bugling now as the herds are stable, and pretty well spaced across Boxley Valley. 

Remember to check Lost Valley for a herd. The herd nearest the observation pullout could well move there any day now. 

10/30/12 Elk Herd Location Map

Monday, October 29, 2012

10/29/12 Elk Herd Locations in Boxley Valley

Today's elk herd locations mirrored recent days with the exception of a new herd popping up in the Smith Creek field in the south end of the valley. 

Yesterday's bull fight is still pretty fresh. Viewing last evening was very good and there was a nice crowd. It is quite possible the loser of the bullfight in the Ponca Fields will come back for a rematch. I have seen this a number of times over the years. 

Great morning frosts and steaming breath shots. 

Elk Herd Location Map 10/29/12

Sunday, October 28, 2012

10/28/12 Elk Herd Locations

Below is the up-to-date elk herd location map. I had to take a couple of days off producing it because of Color Fest, and the free workshops I did.

Patterns have changed very little for about 2 weeks now. Lost Valley remains a good bet for viewing. We have now probably passed the peak of the elk rut, but rutting will be going on for another month in the second estrous. Elk viewing and photography will remain good for months. Remember the antler drop is not until April.

There was a good elk fight this morning in the Ponca fields, and it was the second in 8 days. Fighting is possible any time for a few weeks yet.

Here is today's map:

10/28/12 Elk Herd Location Map

Bull Fight Picture

Bull Elk Fight 10/28/12 Near Ponca, ARFirst bull fight picture of today's fight. This was a real fight and not sparring. Also a black and white version. This was a tough shoot because the light was straight at us with a frosty field. I had to spot meter at +1 stop to open up the shadows. 
This unusual moment caught the two bulls nose-to-nose, and making eye contact up close. I have never seen quite this kind of shot. Obviously nobody could time this shot either. 

Bull Fight Boxley Valley 10/28/12, Black and WhiteI think I like the photo as well in black and white. These extreme lighting conditions cause all sort of color casts that are difficult to control in post processing. These interpretations were done pretty fast. For some reason Blogger puts a cyan cast on the frosty grass. It is probably one of those web-safe color issues. 

Bull Fight!! 10/28/12 AM about 9 AM, Ponca Fields

Bull fight this morning in the Ponca fields around 9 AM. Pictures to come later.

The fight lasted 10 minutes, and was pretty close to the road. My reading of the 2 bulls is that they could well fight today again. I have seen this a few times. The setup is ideal.

This is the second consecutive Sunday for a fight. The rut is just coming off peak a bit, but fights can happen for at least another month.

Pictures and herd map to come this afternoon.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

10/25/12 Elk Herd Locations in Boxley Valley

The elk left the fields by 8 AM today, in keeping with the summer pattern of recent days. This will likely change today if the weather forecasts can be believed. The best place to see the elk has been the Ponca fields in the north end. Today there was one pretty good sized herd in there.

Don't forget the Color Fest this weekend at the Ponca Elk Education Center and my free photo workshop. Call 870-861-2432 to reserve your seat. 2:00 PM each day the 26th & 27th, rain or shine, the workshop will be held.

Elk Herd Map 10/25/12

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

10/24/12 Elk Herd Locations & Report

Elk viewing this morning was difficult due to heavy fog. There were a number of elk herds out, and going forward weather is transitioning to cold weather by the weekend. This means elk viewing should be improve steadily. Rainy weather will only improve viewing unless there are thunderstorms.
It is still a little too early to call the weekend weather except the temperatures in the 50's.

Today's elk herd locations are below:

10/24/12 Elk Herd Location Map

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Required Reading for the Color Fest Workshops

Creative Voice is About Answering Your 
Own Questions About Composition
Friday and Saturday at 2 PM I will be doing free elk photography workshops at the Ponca Elk Education Center. Call 870-861-2432 to reserve your seat.

Contrary to popular opinion, good photography is thoughtful, and the best results come from thinking carefully about what you do. We will be talking about the questioning process, and how to figure out what to do. And how to think about what equipment to buy.

The link below takes you to a blog entry I did early this year. My goal is to get you to learn how to ask effective questions about your photography so you can get to the next level on your own. A new camera is not the key, a new way of thinking is. The blog entry below is a good start. Please read it before the workshops this weekend.

10/23/12 Elk Location Map & Report

The Ponca fields were the stars of the show today with 2 herds. There was a 3rd herd at the observation pullout, but it eventually moved into the Ponca fields. Generally speaking, the Observation Pullout is the worst place to view elk in Boxley Valley. Elk only go there when there are no other choices, and when they are just passing through.

Viewing was good but compressed by the summer temperatures. We will cool slowly through this week until the Color Fest this weekend at the Ponca Elk Education Center.

10/23/12 Elk Herd Locations

Today's Picture -- 10/23/12 River Crossing

I have shot 8 river crossings so far this year, and it is by far my best year for them. Crossings are about Buffalo River Elk. You really have to work hard to get these pictures. Hiking the river on stone is tiring, much like walking in sand. It can be dangerous, and probably is not for most people. I carry an emergency beacon. Today was one of those days when I got what I was seeking. Yesterday I did not seen a single elk in the same spot.

This picture shows a "slow crossing" where the elk stream out of the pastures and then casually graze their way to their bedding areas. There still are bits of fall color to spice up the images. Off camera is a satellite bull that is hanging around the herd hoping to catch a stray.

My workshops at the Ponca Elk Education Center on Friday and Saturday will touch on getting these shots.

Elk Herd Crossing the Buffalo National River
Elk River Crossing, Buffalo National River 10/23/12

Monday, October 22, 2012

Free Photo Workshops at Color Fest Oct 26 & 27

I will be doing my free elk photography workshops both scheduled days at 2pm at the Ponca Elk Education Center even if the Color Fest art show is rained out.

So if you want to attend the workshop, but you are unsure about weather, go ahead and come. If it turns out to be rainy, elk photography and viewing will still be very good. Elk love rain as long as it is not thunderstorms.

Know this, weather forecasts around here are lousy. Not sure why, but my guess is that it is the mountains and the way fronts flow around them. Forecasts even 2 days ahead cannot be depended on around here.

Hope to see you there. Please call ahead and reserve your seat at 870-861-2432 so we can plan.

October 21 2012 Bull Elk Fight, Boxley Valley by Smith Creek

This bull fight was the first I have seen this year. The setup was ideal. Roughly evenly matched bulls were challenging a small herd bull for control of his harem. Note as you watch this fight, the satellite bulls are helping themselves to the cow elk.

All of this is very standard. It is part of the annual elk rut, now at peak in Boxley Valley, near Ponca, AR. I have witnessed bull elk fights until mid-November. Bull fights can happen any time. I usually see about 3 a year, this was the first.

10/22/12 Elk Head for Cover Early in Heat

We are in a summer pattern now with temperatures approaching 80. That was clear today. In a summer pattern getting there at daybreak is a must and the elk leave the fields very early, today just after 7:30 or so.

So what are the viewing prospects? There are probably 8 different herds that are rotating in and out of Boxley Valley from back fields to the valley fields. Weather is a strong determining factor in how good elk viewing will be. If the weather forecast can be relied on, we will see slowly declining temperatures by the weekend, and then it will turn pretty cold.

Cold weather will bring the elk out in numbers, and with predicted highs in the 50's (46 on Saturday),  all day viewing is quite possible. The best viewing will remain at the ends of the day. It virtually always is best then.

10/22/12 Elk Herd Location Map

Sunday, October 21, 2012

10/21/12 Elk Herd Locations

This morning there were fewer herd in the valley but the action and viewing was very good.

The herd to watch is the one located by the Upper Wilderness Trailhead in the south end of Boxley Valley. There was a real fight there this morning, and there are many reasons to favor a repeat performance this evening.

The other very active field is the Ponca field. This has been the most reliable field now for October.

There are many elk scattered elsewhere.

Sunday Morning Update -- Bull Elk Fight Today

There was a bull fight in the field just north of Smith Creek this morning. I wanted to get let everyone know that it is quite possible there will be another one tonight.

The setup is ideal. There is a smaller herd bull that has at least 3 satellite bulls trailing him and his harem. One bull is larger than the herd bull and they fought briefly twice. I think the percentages favor this happening again tonight.

If your goal is to see a bull fight, the stage is set about as good as it can be. Nothing is ever certain in these things, but the Smith Creek field on the south end is the best bet in a long time.

The updated herd map and report is coming soon.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Free Elk Photography Workshop at Color Fest October 26 & 27

I will be doing a free elk photography workshop at Color Fest at 2 PM each day of October 26th and 27th. You should call the Ponca Elk Education Center and reserve your seat at 870-861-2432.

This workshop will be every bit as useful as any you would pay for. I like to teach, and I do share secrets of how I get elk photos that often are "wall hangers". The reason I get them is my approach, composition, elk location strategies, and understanding of elk movements.

Big Bull Elk (Boxley Beast) Bugling by Rubbing Tree
Boxley Beast, RIP Old Buddy
One of my participants last year said "you told us everything, nobody expected that". Well you can expect that. You will get the benefit of my 7 year obsession about elk photography.

The truth is I care as much about you getting a great photo as I do about getting my own. There are basic strategies to kicking your photography "up a notch" and you will learn them at this workshop.

I like to interact with my attendees. For a period of my life I was a professional trainer for one of the big 6 training companies so speaking and teaching is second nature for me. Your questions on anything about wildlife photography will be welcome.

If it interests anyone, I will do a follow-on section on post processing -- what to do after you get the picture of your elk. My emphasis will be on workflow I like a lot. This is not an advertisement though, it is about methods and issues and solutions. I don't do teasers and play bait-and-switch games.

If there are enough attendees, I may have to schedule a second session each day. I need you to sign up so we can manage demand. This workshop draws from a few states, so sign up early.

See you there. Bring your camera, you might need it to understand settings and so on, but nothing is set in stone. I will adapt my workshop to fit those who attend.

10/20/12 Elk Herd Location Update

This map updates herd locations based on last night's observations. 

2 more herds showed up last evening. One down by the south trailhead to the Upper Wilderness, and a second showed up in Lost Valley. This has to be a record year for elk herds in Lost Valley. It must be due to reduced forage because of the drought and army worms. 

Elk viewing should be great all weekend. 7 herds is about the most you will ever see in Lost Valley. A couple of these are on the small side, but it is a treat to see so many elk. 

Remember the ends of the day offer you the best opportunities. Elk do stay out past normal times in cold weather, but this weekend promises to be warmer and clear. I would not depend on seeing many elk past 9 AM. 

Elk Herd Locations Updated for 10/19 PM

Friday, October 19, 2012

10/19/12 Great Elk Viewing Continues Early and Late

This weekend will continue the outstanding elk viewing we have had in the last few weeks. My standard advice about getting to the valley early is important in the upper 70's temperature forecast.

5 herds this morning and good viewing from the 43/21 area to the Ponca fields. This pattern has been solid for a week except for a brief period of stormy weather. It is taking shape as the pattern for 2012.
There are 2 more herds in the extreme south end, but they offer much less reliable viewing.

The biggest bull, the Boxley Stud is near Moore Creek just south of the 43/21 intersection.

10/19/12 Elk Herd Locations in Boxley Valley near Ponca, AR

10/19/12 Elk Herd Locations

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Today's Picture 10/18/12

One of my favorite bulls is JYD, Junk Yard Dog. He is in the Ponca fields at the north end of Boxley Valley. This morning he had his harem about in the middle of the fields and they were fairly close to the road. I got him bugling in cold weather. The calf elk in the shot was getting up to leave. Both were rim lit, and the trail of his steamy breath as he bugled made the photo for me. There was only one other photographer to see this.

The best way to get this shot through a fence is to get as low as you can to throw the steam up against the dark backdrop of the woods. Another key is to get there early. It is a tough shot, but at sunrise easy to locate if the elk are out. With rim lighting, it is important to have texture in the shadows.

Bull Elk Bugling with Steamy Breath
JYD Bugling 10/18/12 in the Ponca Fields

10/18/12 Elk Herd Locations

After a blustery day yesterday, the elk were out in force this morning. The herd remained in Lost Valley and 2 were in the Ponca Fields. A 4th herd returned to the field in the mid-valley area. It is always interesting to observe how animals seem to predict the weather by instinct, often more accurately than any other source. Good bugling in the north valley area.

This weekend should be great viewing. I would expect that viewing will still be best in the mornings and evenings because temperatures will be in the middle 70's of the forecast holds.

I will be posting some pictures from this morning. I got JYD bugling with a steamy breath. It is finally cold enough to get some of these photos.

The 10/18/12 map is below:

10/18/12 Elk Viewing and Photography Guide

10/18/12 Elk Herd Location Map in Boxley Valley, Ponca, AR

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

10/17/12 Elk Herd Locations & Report

This morning there were scattered elk, only evidence of 2 herds, and they seemed to be heading for cover early. Weather is blustery and some herds did not come out at all. This will probably change for evening viewing, but I report on what I see.

I expect to the viewing to change through the day as the storms blow through. Mornings like this are often followed by clear evenings will good viewing. Only time will tell, for now the elk are under cover.

10/17/12 AM Map below:

10/17/12 AM Elk Herd Locations in Boxley Valley

10/17/12 Elk Herd Locations in Boxley Valley

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Buffalo River Sunrise

You only have to see the Buffalo National River and you will never be the same. This is just downstream from a favorite game trail for elk crossings. At sunrise fall color is magical. 

2 Bulls in Boxley Valley -- 10/16/12 AM

These bulls were both alone, and at opposite ends of Boxley Valley. One in the Ponca access, and a second at the Upper Trailhead.  I like to get elk in the woods or the river. These bulls are both second tier bulls, a couple of years away from competing for a herd.

The one thing these two have in common is that I was so close to them I could have taken these pictures with virtually any camera.

Satellite Bull Elk Ponca Access

Upper Trailhead Bull Elk

10/16/12 Elk Herd Locations

Elk viewing remains very good. This morning their were 2 herds in the Ponca fields. They are very viewable. This is a multi day pattern now and pretty reliable.

For some reason elk have been at the pullout now for a couple of days. This is a notoriously lousy place to see elk, maybe a 1% chance. I believe this is due to the army worms and a narrowing of the available pasture. Any time there is a herd at the pullout, it will rotate into Lost Valley eventually. That is pretty standard so continue to check Lost Valley when you visit.

On the south end of the valley there were 2 herds this morning. 1 on each side of 21 before you head up the hill. That brings a total of 5 herds in the valley now. They were still visible at 9 AM, but that is about the limit for morning viewing.

Fall color is very good now and still improving.

10/16/12 Elk Herd Locations in Boxley Valley, Ponca, AR

Elk Herd Locations 10/16/12

Monday, October 15, 2012

10/15/12 Elk Herd Locations

Elk viewing remained good today but was over at 9 AM.  The elk are spread across the valley -- a bit more concentrated in the north half of the valley. The Ponca fields north of the pullout are the best viewing opportunities with 2 herds with very nice bulls.

One of the bulls is JYD, with his broken eye guard. The other is Hacksaw, this year a 8x7, with long curving antlers. Both bulls have been herd bulls for a few years and have favored the areas they currently occupy. JYD has traditionally been one of the late rut bulls, often running cows well into December. It will be interesting to see if this pattern holds up.

I believe another herd that is in the back fields could rotate into Lost Valley.

Fall color is better every day.

The 10/15 map is below:

Elk Herd Locations in Boxley Valley 10/15/12

Elk Herd Locations in Boxley Valley near Ponca, AR 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Boxley Valley Whitetail Deer

Visitors to Boxley Valley will see more than elk. There are trumpeter swans at the mill pond, often near an active beaver dam and mound. Whitetail deer are also pretty common. 

In my trek to one of my favorite elk spots today, I saw a coyote and a gray fox (missed them both). But I did get the whitetail doe that was standing in the river peeking at me through the foliage. 

The picture shows that wildlife photography can be approached as an abstract subject. All that out of focus color is called bokeh, and it is a fundamental creative tool in every photographer's tool kit. 

Whitetail Doe in the Buffalo National River
Whitetail Doe in Buffalo National River

10/14/12 Elk Herd Locations

After last night's big storms, the elk are definitely changing patterns. This morning there was a herd apparently heading to Lost Valley. The southern Ponca field just north of the pullout had good viewing. A herd also showed up at the 43/21 intersection, and a 4th is down by the upper wilderness trailhead.

I call these days "moving time" so what tonight will hold is not clear. I believe there are 7 herds banging around the valley and the back fields. Tonight is anyone's guess, but I think Ponca is certain, and Lost Valley is a good bet.

Fall color is really shaping up now. Last night's strong winds didn't do much damage.

10/14/12 map is below:

Elk herd locations in Boxley Valley near Ponca, AR

Elk Herd Locations in Boxley Valley near Ponca, AR

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Another River Elk Shot in Fall Color

This time it is up close and personal with a satellite bull and a cow. She has signaled him and he has responded. I got this "moment". Just moments later the herd bull ran him off.

Elk photos are more effective if you can capture the moments of interaction between them. This is affection, something many doubt animals have. Watching them over the years I am sure they do.

There is always a back-story. Part of the joy of taking elk photos is knowing the "story of the elk".

Satellite Bull Elk and Cow in Buffalo National River
A "Private Moment" During the 2012 Elk Rut

10/13/11 Elk Herd Locations

Elk viewing remains very good, but somewhat unpredictable with the dynamic weather. Big storms are possible tonight so it is possible the elk will head for cover.

Lost Valley had elk in it again this morning.

Today elk herd locations are below. There were 3 herds visible this morning, but I am certain others were just behind the cane line. They closed up shop at 9 AM. Morning viewing is best before 8 AM.

October 13, 2012 Elk Herd Locations

Elk Herd Locations 10/13/12

Today's Image, Cow and Satellite Bull in Buffalo National River

This is a classic ozark elk scene. This satellite bull is courting the cow in the river. According to the books, satellite bulls breed more than the dominant herd bulls. It is always great to get the animals in the river during fall color.
Satellite Bull and Cow Elk in Buffalo National River
Satellite Bull and Cow Elk in Buffalo National River

Friday, October 12, 2012

10/12/12 Elk Herd Map

Rain storms sent some elk herds to cover this morning, but there were still 5 out and about. The rain has now cleared and this evening elk viewing should be great.

Fall color seems to be coming on quite suddenly. The fog associated with rain makes the color look better. Fall color is very good now, but the peak is at least a week off.

Revised 10/12/12 map is below:

10/12/12 Elk Herd Locations in Boxley Valley near Ponca, AR

Elk Herd Locations 10/12/12

Thursday, October 11, 2012

10/11/11 7 Herds This Morning

Lots of elk in Boxley Valley this morning. Some herds are pretty close together and there is plenty of bugling. Great viewing is likely tonight. Lost Valley remains a strong possibility. The herds are staying out much later in cool, rainy weather. They should come out earlier in the evening.

Remember that while elk love rain, they hate thunderstorms. If strong thunderstorms roll in this evening, they will take cover.

10/11/11 elk herd map is below:

10/11/11 Elk Herd Locations in Boxley Valley, Ponca AR

Fall Color Along the Buffalo National River

Fall color has arrived. It has a way to go to be at peak, but personally I prefer it early and late when the colors are mixed and there are more textures. This picture was taken yesterday while I was waiting on the elk. Great work if you can get it.

River reflections are great landscape subjects. The Buffalo National River region has many different choices for landscape shots like Hawksbill Crag and Roark Bluff in Steel Creek. I don't prefer either, just one step behind these marquee subjects are river pictures that are amazing. The good news is that they are everywhere on the river, end to end, and the big show is just starting.

Elk often take cover around 8 or 9 AM. About this time, and for another hour or so, river landscapes really light up. They are a perfect complement to your elk shooting.

If you seek elk river crossings, you can get both. Nearly all my landscapes are an afterthought of my wildlife photos. I sit on a game trail waiting for what comes. Occasionally I put a wide angle lens on and shoot the landscape I am given.  The picture below is an example. I would not change much if I was just seeking landscape photos.

Early Fall Color Reflection on the Buffalo National River 10/10/11

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

10/10/12 PM Update on Elk Location Map

This evening there were 2 additional herds in the valley. In the peak of the rut things are pretty dynamic. The animals are still rebounding from the haying as well. The good news is that the viewing is very good across the valley end-to-end. A lot of bugling in the Ponca field. 

PM updated map is below:

10/10/11 PM Updated Elk Herd Location Map

10/10/11 PM Updated Herd Locations

Elk Photo of the Week -- River Crossing & Drinking

Sometimes you get real lucky. I hand-held this shot at about 150 yards in mixed light and it came out OK. I believe placing a wild animal in its habitat while exhibiting some of its normal activity tells a story. In fall color it is embellished.

I had pre-visualized this picture, today I got it. I wanted an elk reflection with the animal wading kind of deep. I had to wait an hour on a trail for anything to happen. Patience matters a lot in animal photography. You have to accept the fact that often your best guess is not enough.

10/10/12 Elk Herd Locations

Beautiful fall weather and early color have made elk viewing and photography amazing. This morning I got my second river crossing of the year, this time by a bachelor bull herd.

The elk pattern remains pretty constant. The herd that has been in the Ponca fields continues its run. I still expect elk in Lost Valley, but there were none this morning. There were 2 bull herds, and scattered elk elsewhere. There are at least 2 rutting herds in the back fields but nearby.

The 10/10/12 elk herd location map is below:

10/10/12 Elk Herd Locations in Boxley Valley

Elk Herd Locations 10/10/12

10/10/11 Elk Picture of the Day

This bull is crossing the Buffalo National River in early fall color. He is heading for his bedding ground. These are the photos I seek as an experienced elk photographer. The challenge becomes telling the "story of the elk" in the best setting. Getting them in the Buffalo with a reflection is always a treat.

This is the biggest bull of a bachelor bull herd. They are not quite ready to compete in the rut so for now they are together away from the rut. In a year or two they will be in the fray. This bull has a distinctive forked tine on his left site. Should make him easy to ID in future years.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

10/9/12 Elk Herd Location Map

This morning the elk were pretty active. The best bugling was in the south end, but virtually anywhere there is a herd, there will be bugling.

No herd this morning in Lost Valley, but I believe it is still hanging around that area, so Lost Valley should be checked with any visit Boxley Valley. This has been a relatively long run in Lost Valley, but there are a few factors that have focused a herd there, like haying and armyworms in nearby fields that would normally be in the "rotation".

The deep south end is heating up again.  There was a small bull herd and a regular herd in that field.

The 10/9/12 herd map is below:

10/9/12 Elk Herd Location Map, Ponca, AR

Elk Herd Locations 10/9/12

2012 Color Fest, Ponca Elk Education Center

Elk watchers will want to visit the Ponca Elk Education Center's annual Color Fest. Color Fest is an art show with demonstrations held each fall during fall color season. Each day at 2 PM there will be a free elk photography workshop by wildlife photographer Michael Dougherty.  Call the center at 870-861-2432 to reserve your seat for the workshop.

2012 Color Fest Brochure -- Ponca Elk Education Center
2012 Color Fest Flyer

Monday, October 8, 2012

Herd Bull JYD (Junk Yard Dog) in Lost Valley 10/8

Another picture from tonight's shoot. This is a nice bull in a pretty nice setting. He should be there with his harem tomorrow too. Plenty of feed and water.

I believe the setting is key to a good elk photograph. These pictures are better than most field pictures, and you can get up pretty close compared to many areas.

Herd Bull in Lost Valley 10/8/12

10/8/12 PM Elk Herd Still in Lost Valley

If you want to see the elk herd in Lost Valley, they were in there tonight until dark. Chances are excellent they will be bedded down and viewable in the morning. I would put the percentage at 80%.
I would recommend parking in the overflow parking lot and viewing from there. Any other approach will spook them back into cover. There is a lot of bugling with this particular herd.

Bull Elk in Lost Valley 10/8/12
Herd Bull JYD in Lost Valley 10/8/12 PM

Elk Harassment with a Pickup 10/7/12

I just got a complaint that a resident in a dark pickup truck chased an elk herd around a Boxley Valley farm field yesterday in front of 100 elk watchers. If any of you witnessed this event I would appreciate any photos, especially any with license plate numbers or a good picture of the driver. I will relay them to law enforcement authorities. I may post a few with your permission.

This sort of thing cannot be condoned. It is clearly against state law, and discredits the law abiding residents of Boxley Valley.  Your help will make sure it does not happen again.

Please send any photos to This incident has been reported to the Newton County Sheriff, and the National Park Service and Arkansas Game and Fish who will lead the investigation.

Please also report any similar incidents in the future.

JYD in Lost Valley 10/8/12 AM

JYD is the same bull I got on the 5th in a river crossing about a mile from Lost Valley. He is very active this year. If past experience in any guide, he will continue in the rut well into November. This year is he has a dropped eye guard on his right side, making him very easy to identify.

Bull Elk Bugling in front of Old Clark Homestead, Lost Valley
JYD bugling in front of the old Clark homestead 10/8/12 AM
His herd is to the right, moving to their bedding area. He is declaring his territory.

Bull Elk Crossing Buffalo National River
JYD Crossing the Buffalo River 10/5/12
The herd bull always follows the cows -- He is looking back for other bulls.

10/8/12 Elk Herd Location Map

Elk were moving all around today. Most notable today was at least one herd showed up in Lost Valley. The star of the show in Lost Valley was the bull I call JYD (Junk Yard Dog) with his distinctive down eye guard on his right side. This is from an injury during his velvet period this year.

I expect the elk to be Lost Valley tonight, but nothing is certain. There was good activity up in the Ponca fields. A third bull is running cows down by the Upper Wilderness Trailhead.

Elk are scattered elsewhere in the valley. Please note that there are roadside grazers in the south end and they remain a hazard. Please drive carefully, around 35-40 MPH in the south end.

Today's up to date elk herd location map is below:

Elk Herd Locations in Boxley Valley, 10/8/12

Elk Herd Locations 10/8/12 in Boxley Valley 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Recent Scenes from Boxley Valley

These are my favorite recent pictures, all from the last week.  Boxley Valley is now a multi-state destination for wildlife photographers and watchers. 

I will be doing a free elk photo workshop at the Ponca Elk Education Center at 2PM each day during the Color Fest, October 26th and 27th. Call to reserve your seat  870-861-2432.

Elk photographers in Boxley Valley near Ponca, AR
Elk Photographers in Boxley Valley 10/7/12

Satellite Bull During Buffalo River Crossing near Ponca, AR
Satellite Bull Crossing Buffalo 10/5/12

10/7/12 Elk Herd Locations -- Rut Hits Higher Gear

After a very cold night on the heels of a record setting cold day, elk were moving all around and you could feel the rut hitting a higher gear. In our visit this morning we saw two mating events. The main herd we watched in the Ponca fields had a number of satellite bulls around it. This is the herd that had been in Lost Valley. It may well return there if that bull is to keep his harem. Plenty of bugling. Bull fights possible any time in this field.

Else where in the valley the herd in the south end is heading north. I expect it to pop into the grassy field just north of Smith Creek tonight or tomorrow morning. There is a monster bull hanging around this are, probably the best bull in the valley this year, the "Boxley Stud". I believe he is a 9x7. Prince favors these fields too.

There are scattered elk elsewhere, including a few bulls that put on a nice show in the field just north of the 43/21 intersection. One of those bulls is a recently deposed herd bull and a pretty nice bull.

LOTS of viewing and photographers now in the valley, especially in the evenings. Drive slowly and watch for pedestrians. Traffic jams now from time to time.

Below is the map for 10/7:

10/7/12 Elk Herd Locations in Boxley Valley near Ponca, AR

Saturday, October 6, 2012

New Elk River Crossing Gallery Posted

Crossing the Buffalo National River gallery and notes and photo tips, taken 10/5/12.

10/6/12 Cold & Clear, Longer Viewing

Elk viewing was good this morning with herds in all areas of Boxley Valley. We now have a herd in the Ponca fields, one south of the observation pullout, and a third in the deep south end by the trailhead to the Upper Wilderness. There are scattered elk elsewhere.

Today at least the elk herd in Lost Valley was not out, but I think they are still there and might re-appear tonight. It is always worth checking Lost Valley.

There were many cars in the valley this morning.

See map below:

10/6/12 Elk Herd Locations in Boxley Valley

10/6/12 Elk Herd Locations in Boxley Valley near Ponca