There’s a big difference between luck and chance. These days it’s pretty easy to determine driving distances and times. I figured if I leave my house at 3 AM I should get to Benezette Pennsylvania by about 6:30. The sun should rise about 7:00. I’m on my way to Conowingo Dam in Maryland to photograph eagles but a slight detour gets me to Elk Drive in Benezette. Between 1913 and 1926, Rocky Mountain Elk were introduced by the PA Game Commission. It is now estimated that around 900 wild elk live in PA, ranging over 300 miles and covering parts of seven counties. I pull into the parking lot of the Winslow Viewing area, the only car in the lot this morning. I’ve heard that the elk can often be seen grazing in farmer’s fields but this looks like a nice spot too. Rolling hills, pine trees forming a line in the distance. I grab my gear and start walking down the gravel road in the chilly darkness and then stand and wait for the sun to rise. It’s a beautiful, foggy morning and as the sun just begins to crest the hills to the east, a herd of about 20 elk come up over a rise, pass directly in front of me, cross the road, and disappear down into a ravine. I was there just a little over an hour. So it wasn’t by chance that I found myself in that position just as the animals made their way through that field, but I was certainly lucky as I’ve been back twice since and come back home with nothing to show for it.
A FIELD GUIDE OF LIFE