High in the hills of North Central Pennsylvania, a northern section of the Watershed, a primal ritual begins to take place.  As the cool mountain air signals the color shift of autumn foliage and fog engulfs the valley, a haunting call echos throughout the land.  It is both a symbol of wildness and of the restoration that can be accomplished when man understands what is lost when wild lands are destroyed.
 The bugle of the Bull Elk may still be heard in this part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.  Reintroduced in 1913, these Elk are actually of the Rocky Mountain Subspecies, but are wild and free.  At one time the watershed was home to other mega-fauna as well:  Bison, Timber Wolf, and Mountain Lion.  All have since been extripated.  For over a 100 years Elk reintroduction of Pennsylvania has been an outstanding success story in restoration of a large game species. 
 Not analogous to the bay, but found within the northern part of the watershed, the Quaking Aspen is a tree more commonly associated with the Rocky Mountain West.  Though in the this section of the Alleghenies they can be seen regularly within its' hardwood forests.  
 The bull sounds off to a challenger who approaches his harem.  While seeing Elk in the Rocky Mountain West is always exciting with the granite spheres and numerous game species, there is a quality to seeing the rut from within the fog of the Appalachians.  The water here drains south courtesy of the Susquehanna river making its eventual passage into the Chesapeake Bay.
 The old growth forests are filled with Eastern Hemlock, hickory, oak, cherry, birch, and aspen trees.  The forest is floored with ferns.  There is a Thoreau-like quality to this land.  It is peaceful.  Unless you are chased by a testosterone filled bull Elk.  Luckily for myself this has never happened. 
 The same bull that was calm amongst passers in August may chase you through the forest in September and October.  While Black Bear, Coyotes, and Bobcats make their home in these forest it is the Bull Elk that rules this land.  They are the largest animal found in the watershed.
 When the bulls collide the meadow is filled with a cacophony of antler scraping and interlocking.  It is an awesome sight to behold.  Augmented by the bugle, the natural soundscapes to these battles creates a sensory overload filled with drama.  Bulls will rarely eat during the rut as they obsess on defending or overtaking harems.
 The winner of these epic collisions is granted the right to pass on its genes to the harem.  In some cases the battles are so violent that rival males are gored to death; succumbing to their wounds and leaving only the strongest bulls to breed.
 Some bulls, however, may be more clever than brutal.  Absconding through the forest this bull mates with a cow from another male's harem. 
 My favorite sounds in nature are the howl of the wolf, the call of the loon, and the bugle of the elk.  All three sounds are beautiful in their memorable, haunting crescendo.  My friend who introduced me to the Elk warned me that once you hear the bugle it'll grab you and never let you go.  He was right and I'm better off for it.  So is the watershed for having this small section where the Elk may still roam.  
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