08.18/Deer

Previous

Featured for August: Deer encounters

I encounter quite a few deer during my wildlife photo hikes. The woods are full of them and at times they seem as curious about my presence as I am surprised by theirs.

Many of my deer photos were taken during that extended moment when the deer stop their activities and stare, trying to determine if I’m a threat they should flee or if they can ignore me. It’s almost as if they are posing for the camera. Most of the time they flee. But sometimes they’ll hang around so I can get a few more photos.

One of my favorite photos is the shot of a mother deer and her fawns resting in tall grass in the shade of a tree. I'd like to say that I staked out the spot for hours waiting for the deer to arrive, but the fact is I just came across the scene while walking a trail in a local park.

The mother and fawns were in high grass only about 15 feet from a trail, resting in the shade of a tree beside a sun-drenched field. They were so close that I couldn't photograph them as a group with the long lens I was using so I had to back off about 20 feet.

The mother was watching me closely.

I took five or six shots before the mother started getting nervous. After a couple of more shots she stood up, nudged the fawns behind her, looked at me and started stomping her front hooves. She appeared ready to charge.

I took that as my signal to leave. The fawns ran off as I backed away, followed soon by the mother. But I got my shot.

I have had some even less-cordial encounters, though. The deer, usually a male but occasionally a female with fawns nearby, shows threatening behavior - stomping a forefoot, shaking its head somewhat violently and occasionally taking a step or two in my direction. I slowly back away when that happens.

One memorable less-than-cordial encounter happened on a trail through the woods in a local park. I saw four or five female deer to the right of the trail and stopped to get some photos before they left.

But they didn’t leave. Instead, they all looked right at me.

As I was grabbing some photos, I realized the deer weren’t looking at me. They were looking past me.

A glance over my shoulder explained why. A large male, with a large rack of antlers, had stepped from behind a fallen tree that had blocked my view. He was about 10 yards away and wasn’t pleased that I was between him and the others. He made a loud snorting sound, reared up on his hind legs and stomped both forefeet, then shook his head in a threatening manner.

I moved about 20 yards up the trail, keeping my eye on the deer at all times. He immediately crossed the trail, rejoining the others, and they moved deeper into the woods.

I add a new featured gallery the first of each month. The numbers in the gallery title represent the month and year it was featured.  Previous featured galleries are in the archives.

Return to top of page