My first encounter with a PA Elk came back in October of 1998 when I made my first trip from Va (where I lived at the time) up to my wife’s (then fiance’) camp in Benezette. She had told me all these wonderful stories about the elk there and how they seem to be everywhere around her camp. I was fascinated by her tales since my only elk experience to that time was via books, tv and magazines and the closest thing to an elk I encountered in Va was a whitetail.
Due to our work schedule we were due to arrive at camp around 1:30 a.m., thus meaning we would be arriving while it was dark and foggy. Having lived in rural areas my whole life I knew this was a bad combination because the poor visibility combined with the fact that animals seem to love to be standing in the middle of the road at this hour could make things dangerous.
Anyway, we arrived in Benezette on schedule and my wife was the one driving at the time since I had been behind the wheel for about 4 hrs at that time and was getting tired. We were driving along and she was telling me about how you had to be really careful here and there at night because of the prevalence of elk. She had just finished talking about a certain area just a head of us, when we both spotted long skinny legs in the mist ahead of us.
She slammed on the breaks, and thankfully was not going fast anyway, and we came to a rest about 10 feet from a huge 6 X 6 bull who was just standing there in the middle of the road. I was blown away at how big he was and how small I felt. At the time we were in a Honda Accord that was fairly low to the ground, and there I was staring up at this big guy. Her first comment, following her half scared shriek, was “I told you that you had to be careful here!”.
To say I was awed by the experience was an understatement. He was so big, his antlers looked like a rocking chair on his head and there he was just standing there seemingly without a care in the world. The following days were spent with me falling in love with these amazing animals and taking every opportunity I could to catch a glimpse of them.
From my first encounter with those skinny little legs in the mist then til now I am still like a small excited child each time I see one. I pray they continue to prosper in PA and that they keep off the roads when I am driving.
My first elk experience looked a lot like this but at night and we were moving.