Rare Sight

For many years Paul Staniszewski has photographed Pennsylvania's elk herd near Benezette, Pennsylvania, often with beautiful and impressive results such as a photo of a bull nicknamed "Attitude."

But he hadn't been able to capture a good photograph of a newborn calf ... until last month.

Paul sent me the picture above and wrote,  "Since I have been photographing elk, I was never able to get a decent shot of a new born elk calf.  There always seemed to be some problem: the calf was too skittish, the grass was too tall, the mother was being too protective, the light was not good, and etc... Well on this occasion [June 12], I finally was able to get what I consider to be a perfect photo of an elk calf that was born just hours before."

As you can see, elk calves resemble white-tailed deer fawns.  What you can't tell by the picture is the calf's size.  Adult elk are 3-4 times larger than white-tailed deer and their babies are too.  Elk calves weigh 30 pounds at birth compared to newborn fawns at 4-10 pounds.

You might think a baby this large would be easy to see, especially since elk live in a herd, but the mothers go off alone to give birth and they are very protective of their young.

An elk cow doesn't have antlers, but she's not something you want to tangle with.  She weighs about 500 pounds, stands 4.5 feet tall at the shoulder and is 6.5 feet long from nose to rump.

She'll charge at you if she thinks you're a threat to her baby.

That's why her newborn calf is a rare sight.


Thanks to Paul Staniszewski for sharing his photos. For more views of Pennsylvania's elk and information on photographing them, see his website here.

(photos by Paul Staniszewski)

5 thoughts on “Rare Sight

  1. Benezette is one of my most favorite places to go. It’s worth the trip if you like seeing incredible wildlife. Last year I even had a close bear encounter there!

  2. This elk calf photo is amazing and fantastic! All of Paul’s pics are outstanding, some of which can be seen on his website through the link above.

    Paul’s website also gives details about how to photograph elk, which can be applied to other types of wildlife.

  3. Paul has a rare gift to be able to capture nature at its finest! I now live in Florida (after living most of my life in NY and NJ), and my friends were sure this was a photo of a fawn. They’ve never seen (or even heard of) an elk calf. Thanks, Paul, and Kate for sharing this special pic!

  4. So neat. Thanks for sharing. Reminds me a little of several years ago when my husband was hunting elk here in CO and he and his fellow hunters came a cross a fairly young calf caught in a cattle fence. They had a rough time trying to free the little one as it was kicking and kicking, and yes they are much larger than deer, young or older and wiser. 🙂 Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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