Thursday, December 26, 2013

Herd Bull "Chaos" by Beech Creek

This morning a new herd popped out from the outback. This second tier bull is one I call "Chaos". He is atypical x 3, absolutely the oddest rack I have ever seen. In this picture he is "nose up" preparing to turn the cow in the foreground to the right. This is an absolutely standard rut move -- herd compaction. I doubt there is more than one cow in his harem that is estrous, if that. Note the mud on his rack --  another marker of his rutting behavior.

So what is going on now? We are at the very end of the rut. The big bulls are gone, and the second tier bulls have taken over. This is in keeping with the very end of the rut. There will be some breeding that goes on, but this is the very end of it all. Calves sired in this period arrive in August.

What Lies Ahead
Great elk viewing and photography is far from over. Bull elk retain their antlers until the end of March. All-bull and all-cow elk herds will be very visible in the winter and often all day, although I prefer morning and evening photography.

Many of my very best pictures are from this period. The very first elk crossing I ever shot standing on the Ponca low water bridge was shot on December 28 and it made the cover of the state elk brochure. What I am saying is don't dismiss the period from now until the end of March, it can be amazing.

arkansas herd bull
Herd Bull "Chaos" at Sunrise by Beech Creek

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