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Why Has Pennsylvania Have Huge Bulls?
Seems that they are getting larger as the years go by.
Because they can grow old
Lack of hunting pressure, perhaps? 60 bull tags total over 3 seasons in 2022 is what I read.
That's an unbelievable bull, for a free ranging animal.
Good genes, food and age
Over 400 years ago, Pennsylvania was home to an estimated 100,000 Eastern Woodland Elk that roamed freely across the state. Due to European expansion and over hunting this massive beast became extinct. In 1913, the PA Game Commission reintroduced Elk into the state; however, it was a different species known as the Rocky Mountain Elk. Transported from Yellowstone by train, the Elk were left to roam in the Dents Run area near Benezette.
My count is a 9x9. Spectacular bull!
I count 10 x 10. I'd probably have settled for it if it was only 9 x 9 still.
That bull has everything! Tremendous bull!
Simple matter of growing old with lots of feed.
WOW! Talk about having big bulls! ;-)
Ain’t no way I’d shoot that bull, he needs another year ! ;-)
I just couldn't imagine holding it together if something that big come growling and bugling in .......... say up to about 15 yards.
Habitat and easier winters
No SB… the real deal. PA has been cranking out big bulls for decades. All free ranging descendants of the original transplants.
What Mule said x 2. These elk were transplanted from Wyoming in the early 1900's.
Kinda makes a guy wonder if there was really much of a difference genetically in the different elk subspecies across North America. When you see how elk transplants from Wyoming to different states in the South West or East tend to have body mass, antler size and antler configuration very similar to their “extinct” forebears it really makes you wonder.
Those eastern elk have year round good food sources, mild winters, and have been protected so they can reach maturity. A recipe for big elk!
I have seen more big bulls in areas of NW Colorado in the last few years than I would have even believed possible in the 1990’s when I lived here. The only conclusion I can make is that there are a couple of large ranches with no hunting and a lot of ranches in the area have been split up into 20-60 acre ranchettes with Mc-Mansions and no hunting. These safe zones are allowing the elk to really gain age and grow big.
Assuming the animal has the underlying genetics for a large rack years of the cows being in an environment with plenty of food and a couple generations in you have animals that have essentially "unlocked" the genes to grow large as the animal's DNA basically knows that the surrounding environment can support them. Then you simply let the animal reach it's prime and voila. Giant animals.
It's why you can take southern deer that never grow big, throw them in a pen, feed them and give them everything they need and only a couple generations later you see massive gains in both body and antler. Antler comes first as it happens nearly immediately. Body follows as the doe's body realizes her fawns can grow larger because the environment consistently supports it. The DNA was always there. Just needs to get "unlocked."
It's how guys like T-roy grow such monsters :)
I stand corrected. Enlarging pic I can see 10x10.
That's not even the big one. Wife and I were done there 21-22 of Sept. and at the viewing center there was this huge N.T. bull with about 30 cows. He did get into a fight with about a 380 6x6. Kicked his butt. Next morning, there just inside the treeline was a bigger bull. He is a 7x6, probably in the 400 class. He then got up and walk towards the of the elk. They were not around. But, you could hear them. That 7x6 was massive, not only in rack, but in body.
400 years ago, I'm not sure anyone was keeping records on the elk range/population in Pennsylvania though......
Game farm stock
If you count Yellowstone NP as a game farm, then yes.
This bull was at the B&C panel this past spring.
If warmer climate makes them big, in 3-4 years there will be 400" bulls all over the place with global warming! ;)
With these PA elk, I honestly believe we are actually witnessing evolution in progress... These introduction/reintroduction of different subspecies is interesting to me... Allegedly the last native PA elk was killed in 1877 in Centre County... The present PA elk bloodline was introduced from Wyoming in 1913 so they were a supposibly a different subspecies than that of the now extinct eastern elk native to PA and the east for those who beleive there were two distint subspecies, which seems to be a biological debate...
From pictures I've seen of eastern elk antlers centuries old from bogs or buried the antler characteristic of these old eastern elk racks look similar to the European Red Deer with forked or bifurcated dager points (G4s) and crowning characteristics... This bull has those features, so have they evolved into the true eastern subspecies again after a hundred and ten years? They look unlike the Rocky Mountain subspecies introduced...
I always figured the eastern elk would be heavier and have more points than western elk given the time to grow up. It's just better browse. I wasn't sure if they would get longer beamed and wider since the cover is thick. I saw a lot of narrow bulls from northern Idaho where the trees are inches apart. You see the long beamed, wide bulls in the open country of Montana, NM and AZ.
Z Bone… those are nothing like the crowns you see on red deer and stags of New Zealand. Crowns are more like if you held your hand up palm up and put all of your fingers upward. The points originate from the same place. Not in a row along a main beam.
To me it’s simple evolution. There are some really big bulls and a good percentage of non typical genes in the pool. Those big herd bulls have managed to dominate the breeding enough to keep those genes pretty prominent in the herd. Those monsters aren’t dying from a bunch of bad winters in a row either. They just keep getting better at what they do. I’d like to know the ages of those big boys up there.
APauls…..I can’t even spell DNA!!
Not to hijack this thread, but speaking of New Zealand, it's said half of the 18 elk Teddy Roosevelt gifted to New Zealand in 1905, were of the eastern subspecies, and said possibly some eastern may exist in Ontario... Maybe somebody from Canada can enlighten us...
See wikipedia link, "Remnant populations":
Evolution...that ain't. They're still elk. The genetics were always there. They aren't evolving into wooly mammoths...
As others have said, quality of food and most of all the ability to live to older age class.
Amazing how big they can get when the get to live to 8+ years of age
Totally agree they get so big due to their age and very limited pressure; I was making comment to their antler characteristics evolving likely due to their terrain and flora...
From Wisconsin. The answer is No WOLVES O
Those antlers look different. I'm guessing they're reverting back to the eastern strain of elk. It's all about habitat, water and better forage.
The characteristics of this bull are unique. One of a kind. I’ve spent time up there since the mid 80s. Knew a few old timers who were friends with Rawley Cogan who has been involved with the management of the her for 40 years. Some of those guys have boatloads of sheds. There has always been a higher than usual percentage of non typical bulls. But no similarity between them. So I don’t think that the specific characteristics are related to the terrain or flora. I know that due to the density of the forest in the Pacific NW those elk don’t grow wide racks but instead heavier ones. But the area where elk live in Pa aren’t unusually thick. Yes there are differences in forage from the Rockies but there is a really wide range of habitat and forage across elk country from Tennessee to Kentucky etc and from Arizona to Montana. I think it’s just primo genetics gone wild because they spread throughout the population for decades before there was a hunting season. Back then the herd lived in a very limited range. Over the years they’ve spread out for many miles. But I would think those genes still exist across the entire herd from the first part of their existence in Pennsylvania. Pretty cool!
Without any other elk influencing the herd, you cannot have any sort of changing of their DNA? What you may have, is laten genomes within the original DNA of these elk that is showing, simply because these elk can be related, even if that relation is several generations apart. Chromosomes can carry offset characteristics from male and female parents that can show up from time to time. No different than traits we give our offspring like hair and skin color, or webbed toes and fingers. The fact that these elk get to live a long life, these "traits" will show up such as this. Most whitetails will keep a very similar frame, but eventually grow kickers and fliers. They just don't get that old very often in the wild to show them in this magnitude.
“Without any other elk influencing the herd, you cannot have any sort of changing of their DNA?“
You absolutely can. Genetic mutations (DNA change) happen constantly in a population almost with every birth. Most mutations have a neutral or negative impact on the individual. A buck or bulls maximum potential is predetermined at birth. A proper diet and longevity allow a buck to meet that maximum potential. Poor diet and short life then the buck will never reach his maximum genetic potential. All the food in the world or a long life will never allow an individual to exceed its predetermined maximum genetic potential.
It’s no different than say height in humans. Your maximum height (tall) you will be is predetermined at birth. I’m 6’1” and no matter my diet or how long I live I’ll never be 7’ tall. However, if I was malnourished or only live to into my teens I would have never been 6’1”.
By the way, how do you all feel about an elk subspecies from the Rockies being introduced in eastern states? Some rail against an “invasive” “non-native” subspecies of other mammals being reintroduced elsewhere. Biologically/genetically they are the same species.
No, you cannot change the DNA. No argument. It's simply fact. A mutation is exactly what I describe in recessive genes. But they were always part of that DNA.
Gene Mutations can be dominant or recessive. Not all recessive genes are mutations. Mutations happen in developing fetuses and throughout life. Cancer is a gene mutation. Mutations later in life are cell mutations. If a mutation happens early in the development process it can absolutely change DNA. That’s what a mutation is. It’s a change in the DNA sequence.
Maybe you mean that cell mutations that happen in adults don’t change the all DNA in every cell of the organism?
Pete-pec is spot on. Unless, of course, you actually believe in Darwinian evolution survival of the fittest and all that. You know, like when gay deer don't have kids and that trait is weeded out of the species because it's genetically inferior...
I have a camp in western ny about 2 hrs from Benezette. Have been several times and seen as many as 50
If there is a potential for changes in DNA, which I don’t believe there is, it would take WAY longer then the time these elk have lived in Pa for that to occur.
That’s overthinking it anyway. It’s just excellent genes allowed to reach their full potential for decades.
Somewhere I have video of us rolling apples toward the bulls at the Licking Ranch in Benezette. Before feeding them was banned. You’d roll a few and 6 or 8 big bulls would come over and inhale them. I’ve had to hide behind trees after getting caught between some routy bulls. Scary! That was before we had hunting seasons for elk. Those days are gone. The elk haven’t changed their DNA but they have learned to be elk. Bullets and arrows changed that no so much genetic mutations. Lol
“A recent study found that chronic wasting disease (CWD) is changing the actual genetics of Wyoming mule deer. Researchers at the University of Wyoming recently partnered with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) and the Wyoming State Vet Lab, to analyze hunter-submitted samples from state-harvested mule deer, Wyoming Public Radio (WPR) reports.
What they found surprised them: a genetic mutation that “slows down disease progression” in mule deer herds where CWD has been present the longest. Melanie LaCava and her team said that, while “disease driven natural selection is difficult to study…this gives strong evidence to the hypothesis that the disease is what’s influencing mule deer genetics and making this mutation more common,” according to WPR.”
Yeah unless you believe in that Darwin crap LMAO. Nature doesn’t care what you believe smarba.
It still did not change the DNA. Let me lay it out scientifically to give you perspective. I actually think you're agreeing with me, but the way you're stating that DNA changes is plain wrong. It's okay to be wrong. It's how we learn. So as I stated previously, unless you had another animal with another DNA hybridize with those Pennsylvania elk, you cannot change the DNA. I actually believe in evolution, and unless you're blind, it is happening right before our eyes with humans lol. We are hybridizing every single time we breed. We still have the same DNA though. So here is how crazy chromosomes are. Take our genome as an example. We have around 3 million DNA bases. Each chromosome (we have 23 pairs equalling 46 chromosomes) carry anywhere from 50 to 250 million base pairs. Now let's look at ungulates. You are looking at a lot of differences within that genome, within their DNA, and within all those chromosomes, with all those base pairs that you will get several oddities. Those oddities are what you describe as mutations, but the DNA is in fact the same DNA as long as no other elk (or ungulates) mixed their "seed" within this Pennsylvania herd.
In addition, evolution is often taken out of context. No one in their right mind thinks an ape will mutate into a human. The idea is there was a strain that perhaps (and only perhaps), that both man and ape stemmed from, but that likely only exists if you believe the Earth is in fact older than 6000 years lol.
Have a wonderful day and a great hunting season.
He quit reading at “it’s ok to be wrong” lol
LOL! Right? It's hard on a lot of us.
Nah, I read his post and I appreciate the response.
Chromosomes are made up of different combinations of nucleotides (adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T)). The various combinations and order of the nucleotides matter. Change one nucleotide and it changes the function of the gene.
Let me simplify it for you. There are 10 digits in a phone number similar to a specific order and combination of nucleotides. You change one number it matters because it’s a DIFFERENT phone number. Much like chimpanzees DNA is only ~2% different than humans (one digit off your phone number if you will).
Say a gazelle has a mutation at birth that makes its legs 2% longer resulting in a longer stride and therefore faster. It can outrun predators better and lives to produce longer and has more offspring. The mutation is dominant so all of its offspring are also faster. That IS a DNA change. Yes, it’s still a gazelle but its DNA is different than other gazelles. With enough time and geographic separation from the slower gazelle population it can change genetically so much that when the two ranges overlap again and it breeds with the slower gazelle that the offspring are sterile (new species).
I don’t get your point as every living thing (besides clones) have unique DNA. That’s why when you leave DNA at a crime scene they know it’s exactly you.
Answer this question. When white-tailed deer and mule deer hybridize…what species is the offspring?
I don’t think Pete understands the basic fundamentals of genetics.
I don’t think that it’s DNA, they are killing big elk in most that have been transplanted.
Yes Ryan, you seem very educated. Those elk have obviously morphed into a separate Genome. Thank you very kindly for your hypothesis. If you have any other basic fundamentals of genetics to share, I'm all ears. If you don't mind me asking, where did you study?
Go back and read my posts. I never said they morphed into a “separate genome” or another species. You said the DNA doesn’t change which is scientifically absurd. I think what you maybe meant was the transplanted elk are still elk which is true. I tried to engage you about that and you responded as a…well you know.
The premise of this thread was that the PA elk were bigger. That could be because of environment and/or genetics. Genetics determines antler growth and environment (food, longevity, ect.) influences it. They could have transplanted elk with really good genetics or there could have been a mutation that caused bigger antler growth. If the later is the case (and I’m not saying it is) then isn’t it plausible to you that the mutation (for bigger antlers) was naturally selected because dominant bull wins. Right? That’s overly simplistic but you get the gist.
What does it matter where I studied? Where did you go to college?
As for Mule, he rails against a “non-native” “invasive” gray wolf reintroduced to the U.S. Rockies from Canada (which is the same species; different subspecies) then applauds Rocky Mountain elk being introduced in the eastern U.S. (same species; different subspecies). As if wolves or elk have some understanding of human boundaries construct. Ironically, his post about me being wrong and he doesn’t even know enough about the subject to see his ignorance resulting in hypocrisy.
“A mutation is exactly what I describe in recessive genes. But they were always part of that DNA.”
By the way this is also false and frankly makes me wonder if you know what a mutation is or what causes them. A virus can and does cause mutations. It breaks the infected hosts DNA and inserts its own with a very small portion of nucleotides (DNA Or RNA segments). Example, human papilloma virus (HPV). This is a DNA change that came from outside the hosts own DNA…from the virus. It wasn’t just “always part of that DNA.”
The premise of the thread was that they are bigger. But the subject changed to focus more on antler characteristics. That’s when the genes and dna discussion began.
As far as comparing the introduction of an apex predator to transplanting ungulates is typical of you. A weak defense. Have you packed your shit for the move to Russia yet? Don’t let the door hit you in the ass.
Morphing dna, yeah that’s it!