I came over the top of a hill giving this Mule Deer Doe a start. Ever had the arms and neck go prickly before? A little adrenaline, a little furtive movement…high alert. She settled down in a few minutes and resumed grazing in the small group near her. This time of year everything is getting aware of the seasons change. Usually long before human are. The nights are getting longer now. The fall equinox is but 6 days away from this post. I see the change in their coats starting. They are starting to get a little bushy. Sort of like me not visiting a barber for 6 months. (I actually cut my own hair lol).
The does ears are big and sensitive but a ridge can muffle the sounds coming up the other side if the wind is up. Just appearing 50 yards out, I definitely got inside her comfort zone too quickly. Fortunately I managed to photograph her quartering off to me.
Boy if I was hunting…. meat for the taking for a landowners doe tag. It’s getting close to October when the serious hunting starts in this area. I personally don’t hunt unless we are having a population problem that needs thinning. I’d just assume play “counting coup” with my camera on the deer.
Talk about pot belly lol. This is certainly a doe that is properly positioned in her world. She has learned to take advantage of the resources offered to her. Our ranch is full of edible plants (to them anyway) and is well watered. She is in a pretty good place with most of the top level predation under control.
Caught her looking up. I had to make some noise to break her focus on the ground. The sun was setting and I had places to be. Deer are less than cooperative to my will usually. I hope they do one thing, they do another. It’s a 50/50 chance most of the time. Fortunately these wild critters tolerate me well in my black pickup (Clever Girl). Having seen me many times out on the ranch land. I thought her expression was priceless….
Note: A fairly big black bear was just taken by a local rancher while it was eating a cow in the backcountry. Less than 10 miles from here just over what I call ridge 4…. Kudos to that ranch. We share the same backcountry with that ranch to the east. I really love being deep into a dinosaur pit with my butt up in the air around here. Makes one a little paranoid…. At the homestead, two decades and no bears…. A bear probably wouldn’t like the electric fence we keep around our facility at all. It has discouraged most creatures touching it since it’s inception lol.
Always grainy the pitch black capture of a Game Trail Cameral (GTC) is problematic to me. I have to look through thousands of blurry images to find one this good but…. None the less, they are always candid and without prejudice by the actors. They are always behaving naturally for those auto photon capture boxes. It takes a flash of an Infra-red LED panel to illuminate the scene. Our human eyes are incapable of seeing in this part of the light spectrum in the Infra-red band. The deer aren’t usually aware that something happened. Different cameras make different amounts of noise so sometimes they look surprised lol.
Knowing the characteristics of how the flash works on particular brands of cameras is a big deal I’m finding out. Placement of the cameras should always be that the “funnels’ one might channel the animals into the optimal flash exposure area. Just like it did here. If they would have been closer, they would have been white like the stick in the foreground. Take note where the trails are and set the camera back 15 feet for most medium settings from where you think the animals are going to be. You have a 5 foot on either side of that (generally) for sloppp.
Placement of these GTC’s is everything. It’s really the only control of the image you have is your composition and analysis of the scene. You have to figure out where everybody walks and cover that area sufficiently. Then just stand back for a few weeks to months and see what happened there.
I planted 8 cameras of the 17 that I just serviced yesterday/this am. 9 to go. I’m planting all with fresh batteries that should last the winter. If you avoid compositions where wind blows grass or branches in front of the lens, your batteries will last a year. If cattle mull around your cameras, the batteries will last a week lolol. I won’t be able to get to most of these cameras until the snow melts in the spring.
This Fawn Mule Deer is looking for those spots. Must have lost them somewhere around there. It’s been walking around with it’s head down for 10 minutes. Must be looking for something…..
Being 4-5 months old now grazing with it’s twin and Mother up High on a ridge line I call Rattlesnake Ridge. You’ve been seeing images of these guys all summer. I run into them randomly out on the ranch land during my journeys.
Love the lighting for this shot. (note the blur before and blur after. (f11 with a long telephoto due to the lower smoke filtered light levels). This clearly shows what “depth of field” is. Focus in the center, blur on either side of the focal zone. You have to think in 3-D for this work most of the time. The forest fire smoke is color casting the red here.
This fawn has not been named since it’s ears are perfect without notches. I’ll loose track of it by spring. Hopefully she will hang with her sister who has a very identifiable notch in her ear. Guilt by association at that point. I’ll wait until next spring to name this one. They change so much as they grow. Their mother is also easy to ID with her ears. Mule deer have HUGE ears. Much more so than Whitetail.
Re: Rattlesnake Ridge: Yes it is a sinuous ridge looking from above. My reason for the name is: apparently the ranches owner back in the 70’s, dynamited a rattle snake den here. Or so the story goes. Dynamite was a LOT easier to get back then. Years ago I heard a skuttlebutt rumor of an old box of dynamite sitting around on some fictional surrounding ranch. I’ve dealt with a lot of explosives over the last 10 years in my day job. I’d certainly rather not have to deal with 50 year old sticks of H.E. Probably a puddle of liquid nitro on the bottom of the box lol. I’m sure it’s a rumor… I’ll hear about it if true… (in the distant boom lolol). We really don’t have a lot of rattlers though which has been a good thing I believe.
Languishing in my “to do folder” unnoticed from last spring was this little chubby gal fawn. She obviously has a lot of attitude. She was all business with her twin just off frame moments before. Now shes prancing about sticking her tongue out. You will notice the rounded belly of a baby that obviously has spent some time on the spigot. Moms lunch counter the two share. They mix that with tasty morsels from the buffet around them. I’m sure there are many good looking plants that tasted terrible though. Learning quickly is a trait of the species but this one is a mere baby when this was taken.
The deer live on what they forage . They are tougher than cattle with regards to eating certain plants. For instance, deer can eat pine needles and not abort their fetus.The turpentine in the pine needles can and will cause cattle to spontaneously abort.. So certain pastures with pine trees are not good winter pasture for cattle. Deer have a very tolerant system to deal with such things.
This fawn I have followed over the summer. This is miss “Perfect Ears” I’ve spoken of in other posts. She is always lagging behind the other two. More curious of things I believe. She is more than cooperative and tolerant of “Clever Girl” driving around, stopping and sitting with a big eye sticking out the drivers window…. I hope we have a mild wet winter… I miss the spring already….
Have a great night all from my workstation here on ranch 🙂
Seeming oblivious to my presence, this is Jane Doe again munching some tasty morsel off the bone dry ridge top. Her twin fawns I’ve watched growing up this summer are just off frame on either side. She has been a good mother. I actually have unfinished photos of her from last year discovered in my “to do” folder this AM.
This particular evening the three were on Rattle Snake Ridge. The first tall ridge north of our homestead. I was heading up to this high point above them. I stopped a few minutes along the way to enjoy the view of this family gathering. This ridge is a 200 foot high erosional remnant standing above the grassy flats below. The good thing is there is a very firm path that isn’t that the type of ground to turn into mud. Don’t get off the path though lol. There are areas of “Gumbo” bentonitic clay soil around. Driving over such when wet
The mom here is starting a seasonal molt giving her a mottled appearance. This is not mange. This was taken in warm weather so no need for a thick coat just yet. All deer go through this each late summer. IT’s the deer equivalent of a T-shirt. The new hair will grow in quickly and thick. The coming winter is just the wheel spinning around again from my perspective.
Here I caught Jean Doe (cousin of Jane Doe but misspelled… same letters…) with a game trail camera. Nice notched ear. You see, this was taken with a 360 degree camera that swivels internally toward movement. From detection to first click is about 2 seconds. Just enough time for a curious doe to look at the source of the whir with the corresponding click. The candid nature of the captures more than make up for the image issues from the Game Camera.
Now standard as a game trail camera capture, it’s an edgy image. . It’s a little overexposed in the sky, some movement blur on her face. None the less, I thought this was a REALLY good Game trail acquisition. Strictly an automatic camera capture too. It’s all about how you plant them and where.
It’s probably only going to be an 18 x 18 final though. Maybe smaller. But I’m loving the look of Jean’s innocent curiosity taking over. She is not perceiving a threat here. I just think she doesn’t understand how that “stump” (camo’d camera) moved and made a sound. Magic is high technology that is not understood. They get used to cars driving by but audible noise from a human contrivance is definitely interesting it seems. Her magic for the moment suffice to say. I constantly am amazed around here by unique scene appearing seeming at another’s will. Certainly I don’t do magic. I do sure as heck try to record it when it happens in front of my gear……
Random things happen all the time. Who would have thought I’d come upon two yearlings (1.5 year old buck anyway) playing hide and seek in the woods. They both carefully backed in behind the old pine to hide from me… Not seeing each other figured they were safe… What happened after this I leave to your imagination but I suspect someone or both got a startle when they bumped. I know but I’m not telling 🙂 I unfortunately did not get much more on camera as they weren’t cooperating with my mental wishes.
Back to my normal programming.
Well the twilight was spectacular anyway as par for the course of late. Magnificent skies are the rule rather than the exception when wispy clouds are overhead and there is a lot of smoke in the air. Long traveled sunshine colored the clouds with only the finest of displays that night.
Finding two deer on a ridge in front of the show was cool. Having them pose for me, priceless. The two caught in my cameras stare were frozen in time. Click. Who can argue with photographic evidence of hide and seek play lolol.
It took me almost 5 months to collect this image from one of the 29 game trail cameras I keep running in the Wyotana backcountry. They usually take relatively crappy images, blurred, too dark or too light, or just off frame. Each and every image I get off a 150 dollar Game Trail Camera has a host of issues that a 3 thousand dollar camera doesn’t. Of course, I don’t have to leave a 3K dollar camera out in the elements either lololol. I have to fix each game camera image I post within the digital dark room. I literally have to look at 1000 or more images to get one that even has a prospect of making it into my portfolio. This is one such photos. This is very close to the camera for it to be in focus in this moderate light.
I’m thinking he heard the “Click/whir/sound of the camera. This particular camera has a 360 degree circle sensor. If it senses movement anywhere around it, the camera literally swings around inside of the gadget to take a photo in that direction. So it makes a little whirly noise and a click when it goes. I like them because they cover a HUGE area from all angles. I can put one 360 degree game camera out versus 3 or 4 regular game cameras. Humm, tough choice…
Whats the difference between deer nuts and beer nuts
Beer nuts are $1.50 a lb. And deer nuts are under a buck. (Top Hat crash Thump Thump…)
Sorry about that. I was so sure this post would be the butt of many jokes, I figured I’d pre-empt you lol. I’ve seen a lot of good photos of buck faces, I haven’t seen too many good images of Buck Butts. This game Trail Camera caught this young buck with velvet on it’s growing antlers. He was on his way to meet that gal sunbathing in the grass down range.
This image was late spring. My delay on Game Trail Camera captures can be considerable. Might be 6 months at times over the winter. First of all it’s been months since I’ve serviced this particular automatic camera. It sits down in the wonderful grassy wash deeply hidden from the outside world. This drainage is a world unto itself of old cottonwoods and cedars. Grasses up to your waist with a notable lack of noxious weeds. Something that contaminates from the outside those weeds like Canadian Thistle whose seeds blow in with the wind.
The soil/ground here is undisturbed by human machinations. Maybe a fence post hole or two along it’s course. Unchanged by European Man is this ground. As a pre-historic note… I point out that there is a documented “Clovis Man” 10,000 year old archeological site 10 miles from this spot. I’m thinking those same paleo-lithic types walked this valley. Just a tad bit before I did.
The Mule Deer as a species survived the extinction of the Megafauna. The Clovis Man culture disappeared into the mists of North America as the Glaciers Melted / Ablated away. The deer aren’t telling the story. They sure seem to have a genetic memory. That to be fearful of two legged creatures…. humm.
Overall it’s a fairly excellent photo from a game trail camera (GTC). Each and every one that I finish takes a lot of attention to detail to fix the issues inherent with GTC images. Finishing them this well takes a LOT of luck. This is Jane Doe and Twins in the early summer.
I’ve been watching them all year and they are currently starting to loose their spots. Probably should name them as they are going to be future stars of my photography. You can’t see it here but one of them has a chunk out of it’s ear which makes it easily identifiable. The other one will present a problem to differentiate from another random doe. No Notches on her. Jane’s left ear is slit nicely which makes her easy to discern in the crowd. I ran across these guys the night before I typed this narrative.
Of late I’ve been collecting most of the “Chips” (SD cards) from my network of Game Trail Cameras (29 currently I think)…I only see some of them once a year or so depending on where I planted it. Collecting them spread out over s 6 square mile area is a chore. So I can’t visit every location in one day. Usually I do this over a week in the later summer. Then I look at THOUSANDS of random automatic camera images (99 percent crap) over several days. Just occasionally I get a good one. This particular 360 degree sensing camera is planted nearby a path to a stock tank that this particular family unit waters. It literally will detect and take a photo anywhere in the full circle (not a panorama). Normally it takes 3 or 4 cameras to properly cover a likely spot.
Sometimes the lighting just has to control your compositions. Backlighting makes it difficult to capture detail on the shaded side. Many cameras cannot discern the subtle textures and shades of brown/black in the shade. Literally the gear makes the difference in a capture in this lighting environment. You get what you pay for is very true with cameras unfortunately.
The Whitetail mother deer well fed from her forays out onto it’s ranchland, is browsing for edibles closer to her water source. Our corrals have water 24/7/365 for them and have for two decades. This mother was raised here and her mother before, rinse and repeat. Raised on water we pump out of Cretaceous Beach Sand. The dinosaur having walked on it a few years back. Walking on corral that was bull dozed in the mid-1960’s on top of an old Cretaceous River Sand and associated shales. Those shales are complete with leaf fossils from the surrounding forest.
The deer of course is not concerned what she is walking on or where the water comes from. She is concerned with the moment. The flow of her life will provide the direction she needs past the present. All without much consideration on her part. The circle is turning for her. It’s humans that concern ourselves with the price of things next week. The consequences of our actions are a grey area to us. I’m pretty sure a deer has a definite understanding of right and wrong choices. Wrong always has a bad ending to a deer. Being grey, human feel luckier and somehow above it. But the circle is always turning. 👀
Boy I wish I was that flexible. I can actually touch my toes standing but my neck isn’t quite this flexible I’m thinking. Bending sideways that much gives me the willies as I’ve had back surgery already. Somethings you just have to itch lolol.
This wondrous lighting scenario was during a very late day. This doe and her group were coming into our corral system to water up for the night. It’s a daily routine but I’m not usually nearby with a telephoto. I can’t tell you the number of things that happen right under my nose every day. There are so many happening going on up here at any one time. Deer about, Pronghorn about, Cattle about, Chickens, Ducks, Dogs and Cats. LOTS of various small animals and birds live in this habitat. But yet at the same time it’s all about being there with a camera at just the correct place in time and Space. Rule #1 of Photography: Have a camera with you.
The Whitetail deer are more gracile than the Mule deer. Their ears are smaller. There is NO black on their tail either. Mule deer have huge ears with a black tipped tail on the other end. Whitetail are a LOT smaller. This one is very well fed (not pregnant) late summer with a big fat belly to show for her effort. It’s going to be a very long winter (bad) if this year keeps on giving… Maybe that will kill the grasshoppers. 😜 Think “winter is coming” (classical reference).
A full frame capture of a Plump White Tail Doe (tending for a young just off screen). Note NO black on the tail? Not a mule Deer plus the ears are not right either. Taken in one of our corrals, there is a watering hole that is open 24/7/365. Many deer winter over due to the presence of flowing water. They would be forced down river to find fast flowing water otherwise. I bet we water 50 critters not counting birds most days over 4 tanks. Each in different location watering an area of about 3 square miles. I’ve built a little water jet that always keeps the tank open (so far through 1 winter). It saves a LOT of money pumping water.
The critters don’t mind at all. I’m waiting for one of my game trail cameras catching someone drinking out of the water jet lol. I’m still trying to figure out how these guys get in and out of the corral. They get into this enclosure earlier than I like to get up. I couldn’t catch them with conventional gear anyway lol. Too dark that time of morning. I use game trail cameras for that kind of thing usually.
I have all sorts of wildlife encounters around the stock water tanks. More time needs to be spend around those tanks. So many hours in the day….
If you don’t think one is dangerous and the other isn’t, you need to live up here a while. It would change your opinion. Two things that can mess up your day are in this image lol. You might have to look closer to see the 5 deer and one bedded Pronghorn. The thunderhead (Mesocyclone) Anvil is about 80 miles distant from the Bull. The sub-irrigated field still green even this late in the year.
Bulls are of course known to be temper-mental. I find generally they are lazy unless there is a Cow involved. In which case 1800 pounds of moving muscle on the hoof is a lot of hamburger to flip on the grill. This is the sized animal that if it decides to screw with you, your best bet is to start turning faster than he can lol. It’s your only hope lol. Being on a good cattle horse is a whole different experience of course.
The Huge Mesocyclone off in the distance is known to be temper-mental. Their bad behavior is due to the heating of the land by the sun during the day. The rising warm humid ground air coming into contact with cooler air aloft causing cloud growth. Like the bull, you can never predict what they are going to do.
Both will run right over you if you get in their way :(.
Watching the Photographer take a photo of the landscape, these two Mule Deer Doe’s were minding their own business. I come along and interrupt their grazing for a minute. Not my intent of course since I was minding my own business too. Driving in the backcountry I randomly run into small groups of creatures great and small. This time, I was more interested in the long landscape in front of me. But consider them and the tree they bracket, as a nice lower border to this composition. Bonus lol. This was a 10 layer landscape ladder just laid out for my enjoyment and now hopefully yours.
“Landscape ladders” are such captures with layer after layer of different color/texture/distance or topography. It’s easy to find a lot of intersecting angles in a landscape but layer on top of layer is desirable to me anyway lol. Of course this is a “Close / Far perspective taken
Late day Golden Hour Lighting predictably gave this image a markedly red colorcast as was true to the scene. I take great care to get the main sun colors properly weighted toward the longer wavelengths when appropriate. I’ve more or less categorized they types of evening light in my own head how. It is just a matter of verbalizing it now lol. I find that knowing and teaching are two different animals.
The wisdom of the Mother deer is evident in it’s quick glance over her shoulder to check on me. We surprised each other. I instantly stopped, the engine stopping in in my truck automatically. Suddenly I’m a parked car with a big eye sticking out of the side window. With me popping over the ridge. The startled fawn quickly running toward it’s mother for advice. Mother who had seen this trick before from me, casually checked me out before continuing to graze. The fawn sensing her “at ease”, hung out for a few seconds unsure. The young ones are starting to think for themselves at 3 months old. That’s the human equivalent of a 4 year old for Deer Mothers.
I considered whether to put this as the second image in my posts today. That is high praise from me for a deer photograph lol. Deer images mostly are relegated to the 3rd or 4th spot…. In otherwords, I love this image….. It might just be me… Or maybe it s the little hole in the Does left ear. (just checking to verify your “Seeing” and not just looking) 📸
Photography is about freezing those moments of space and time to preserve them for future purposes. I’m never sure how my images are utilized. This one will likely be a painting by someone within a few days I’m sure.
These two Whitetail Does with fawns still have a yearling hanging with them. Probably the year old daughter of one of them was being a typical youngin’… EVERYBODY was waiting for her to jump that fence line ME included. Took her time…📸
It was a trip to get up high topographically. The trails diverged over a ridge to expose a 5 wire Barbed wire Bull pasture enclosure that the deer were in getting water. There aren’t many 5 wire fences in this country. Mostly 3 wire. When someone puts up 5, it’s for the big animals. His photo is forthcoming lol. I find modern bulls more or less stubborn and not as smart as your average 1 year old. Low and behold it was sharing a pasture with this one year old lol.
Well junior finally decided to risk the jump. By the looks of it it may have brushed that top wire. Having a few minutes between first and last deer to clear. Set up was I was machine gunning the camera at it lept. I have 7 images over this jump. So many good images, so little time to work on all of them. Heck it’s hard enough to look at everything I take let alone an entire timeline of a good sequence like this. I love to see (and photograph) deer clearing things except my own fence lolol. 😜
I am pretty sure there are 100 narratives that could apply to this face. Priceless. I find deer are quite expressive in their looks. Eyes open wider with interest. Ears are like radar to the deer. They can hear you hick-up from 100 yards out. This taken out in one of our corrals which has been un-grazed this year but for the deer. I was standing in my “front” yard within our “deer resistant” fence line. That corral has a water tank that we keep open 24/7/365 for anybody that needs a sip. Nearby gullies provide cover and the huge fields of grass a source of food.
The Mom has already had her fawns (in the corral with her). She just looks pregnant being well fed around the house. She just filled up with water too. They are not stressed up here. They scamper off pretty quickly if so. We have a hoop greenhouse not 50 feet away full of goodies but the 7 foot high electric fence tends to keep most creatures out. Only the creatures that know how to operate the gate, can fly over and grasshoppers get in there. :(. IT’s been a tough grasshopper year on top of all the rest…. 😔
While this is a telephoto image on a high end camera, I do keep game trail cameras by that water tank in this “enclosure” however… I’m about to check them after 3 months so stay tuned for several deer families with fawns. Most mornings very early I see small groups of deer come and go from that water tank. There should be hundreds of good captures.
It’s really scary when your compositional mind works real time live in the camera….Got it… I had to adjust my position sufficiently to capture these Mule Deer Bucks (all) balancing on the tightrope all and positioned between the fence. Click…. I had forgotten about this image and it languished in my “To Do” folder. Found it!.
So this of course is the second leg of the annual Bliss Dinosaur Ranch All Ungulate Relay. The Deer here are in second place with the Pronghorn having lapped them a few minutes ago. The runners here are all grouped up drafting one another thinking they still have a chance. (their mothers read the the “Turtle and the Hair” as fawns). Persistent/valiant but the Pronghorn are hard to out run.
It seems there used to be some pretty fast Lions, tigers and other cats living in these hills. Those predators were obviously prolific during the last Ice Ace and before here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands. The most most recent continental Ice sheet (5 glaciations in the last 500,000 years) stopped it’s advance about 20 miles up into Montana from my perspective here on the Bliss DInosaur Ranch. There were LOTS of critters hanging out below the glaciers. The Pleistocene Epoch is typically defined as the time period that began about 2.6 million years ago and lasted until about 11,700 years ago.
Paleontologist recognize that age as a time of geologically rapid Glaciations followed by warmer periods in between. A vast and diverse “Mega-fauna” was present within those variable ecosystems. About 11,700 years ago, things started warming up for the 5th time in a half a million years. (Warm periods between the ice sheet advances). BTW… The earth’s various climates (the earth has NO climate, it has ALL climates) were “Changing” every 100,000 years or so. The Term “Cycle” is thrown about loosely these days. I use it here in that I’m glad it’s warm because living here with an ice sheet 20 miles to our north….Might have experienced some “Climate Change” back then. Just saying 🤔 👀
I had the high ground AND the sun at my back. I was almost invisible to the actors in this play. One was off frame left. Simultaneously to this capture, a Red Fox was walking through the grass maybe 50 feet away from this Deer fawn. I’m thinking the branch it had in it’s mouth was a peace offering. Perhaps it was a little extra camo to stay hidden. The Fawn was WAY more interested in the Fox than the Fox was of him. Having said that, I’ve never seen a deer fawn standing rock still with a branch in it’s jaws for a few minutes. He was carrying it around like a trophy. He never dropped it as long as I watched him.
I had just a very small window through vegetation to capture this. I watched this little guy for maybe a few minutes before his twin popped out for a second. Then both disappeared into the thicket to the right. The fox was no where to be seen by then. I was working back and forth between them photographing each but have no frame with both. I was working a long lens not a wide lens at the time and this happened very quickly.
So a bucket list item has been recorded. A Red Fox Kit nosing a spotted fawn deer in this light. Now that would be a photo eh? 📷
This fawn is about to get nipped. I’ve seen a few deer bite deer scenarios historically. Not too many though. Perhaps that tail looked tasty for a minute. Just a little nip. Perhaps this is a deer form of spanking. Butt Biting certainly would change the expression on it’s face I’m thinking lol. It’s natures way to correct our young one’s inattention.
These guys were grazing out in the backcountry grasslands up high on the ridges. I randomly came by. Blending in and letting the deer get back into natural behavior after your initial intrusion. They definitely have a line in the sand you don’t cross without loosing your photographic privileges. Some close than others. These twins are good with me as are their mother. I watched them for about 1/2 hour. Then continued on up the ridge to find a location to photograph the one going “Golden Hour” and the coming sunset.
I have read that twins are normal in most healthy populations. 10 to 15 percent of the deer in such biomes bear triplets. I have not seen any triplets in a few years. I suppose I only see a small population sample here on a 5 square mile ranch relative to say the 36 square mile township. There are a lot of deer in a 36 square mile township lolol. We only have a few dozen small herd nearby here that I interact some with. Most of them just overlap their range on my place. Only a few herds actually live here. Of course there are itinerant bucks that come by occasionally.
When you watch a mother deer with her fawn, you can see the love. They interact constantly. Once the novelty of me being within telephoto range has passed, natural behavior starts to return. No more suspicion of the intrusion into their world remains as I watch the mother reach over and nuzzle her baby. I’m not so sure the fawn was stressed in the least. I’m thinking the mother was reassuring herself that the fawn was OK. This was at least 5 minutes after I started photographing them. I’m doubting she was very stressed as the photo session continued for at least another 1/2 hour. I drove off leaving them approximately in the same place as when I drove up. I can usually do this kind of work without chasing them off.
If I scare animals (bad plan). I don’t get to photograph them very long and then only their backsides as they run away. So stealth, patience and don’t push are my techniques.
These guys way laid me on the way to photograph a sunset. I often randomly encounter wild animals on my trips around the ranch. I have been known (rarely) to go up a hill with a FLIR (Forward Looking Infra-Red) high resolution thermal viewer looking for body heat. It is rare I LOOK to find animals to photograph. They almost always just appear during my daily chores and photographic trips. I consider myself a landscape photographer even as all these critter photos grace my portfolio.
For a Black and White Game Trail Camera Night Shot, this came out pretty well lolol. 📷 Grainy as would be expected of an Infra-red camera.
Each game trail camera shot has issues. I spent some time working on in the digital darkroom this to fix them. The result was good enough to get published second today on my timeline. I love photos that tell stories. This has a wonderful obvious one.
A Mule Deer Buck Listening to a Meadowlark Sing it’s melody in the Twilight.
The bird on the post in silhouette is a Meadowlark. I know them very well, trust me it’s a Meadowlark. It’s singing it’s heart out to the Spring Velvet buck (you can only see one growing horn at this angle) . He was in antler growth mode in early June when this was taken. I have no question that buck is listening and watching that Meadowlark. Being the State Bird of 6 Western States, the Meadowlark’s are sort of hard to ignore even at 4:55 AM. What a way to start your morning 📸 . Actual sunrise that morning was around 20 minutes later. You have to look but there is a grazing buddy of the buck over on right frame.
Game trail cameras lag months behind as I only pick them up when I pass them. That might be 1/2 a year depending on the season.
After watching these guys for 20 minutes, these twin fawns decided to walk up to the ridge line. They has a sunset show of a totally clear sky full of golden alpenglow. I know that deer watch beautiful sunsets. I’ve seen them stop eating to watch it for minutes at a time.
I’m always on the way to set up a landscape somewhere at sunset So along the way….. . I am after all a landscape photographer who likes to specialize in close/far perspectives from the viewpoint of a mouse. But…. Being an opportunist and stingy with my time, I pursue animal photography only as it occurs. This is in contrast to trying to make it happen. Now I have at times known where herds were and with definitely intent drove carefully/slowly into the center of the herds. It takes a little previous experience with that herd getting them used to my rig. These two Whitetail Fawns are definitely getting used to me.
I haven’t seen as many Mule Deer up in this country this summer. The Muley’s must have moved on to lusher pastures with WhiteTail Deer moving into the area filling the vacuum. Certainly we hope this is me not noticing where the Mule Deer hang this year. I way prefer to have Mule Deer about rather than just Whitetail.
These Twins I’ve been watching for a while. I surprised both of us popping over a ridge top but they stood their ground. The Raptor instantly stopped it’s motor and was not a threat anymore. They immediately settled down. With a perfect Late Day golden colorcast light in their face, it looked they were enjoying the sunset. That was ongoing behind me at the time but you have to make priorities. It was a clear sky sunset….yawwwwn…..I don’t usually get lovely twin fawns bathed perfectly in the last light of the day. The spots will disappear by fall. I’m not sure of the evolutionary advantage/survival benefit of the spots but it seems to work for them. Usually traits don’t propagate in species if they don’t work / do something.
SO I worked the family unit as Mom is just outside of frame here. These two were following her toward the sunset slowly, in no particular hurry. I drove away leaving them where they started. Being there I was trying to make the Raptor look like a grazing cow. I probably took 600 images of this encounter. There will be 1/2 a dozen finished. Many are similar to the ones before, many are rapid fire next image in the sequence so it’s picking good apples from the barrel in this kind of thing. I don’t have a clue what that sunset was doing lolol.
This little one was just having the time of his life with grass that survived the recent hail storm. It looks to me as if he’s smiling😜
I was driving backcountry up a steep ridge to position myself to work the oncoming sunset of that evening. My wildlife encounters are all random. Occurring as I drive from place to place on other chores. Mostly just on ranch usually though I do get some good wildlife encounters on county roads.
There is a lot to be said for covering a lot of territory quickly assuming you can stop lol. I usually move right along up the ridges along well traveled/known routes following the existing two track roads. Cresting the ridge top, I spied the group of 3, hit the breaks and stopped. I stumbled upon 3 total. This fawn, it’s not quite identical twin and mother standing in open grass. They were not 30 yards from me. The Raptor will automatically stop the engine (perfect backcountry photography vehicle bar none!) They just saw me pull up and stop about 50 yards away. Then a big eye stuck out of the black portable blind.
Deer being the jumpiest animal (short of Pronghorn) in this country, should have run. I definitely popped up and surprised them visually. I suspect they may smelled me with the wind at my back. They certainly heard me. Probably had the conversation just before I popped up of mom saying “here it comes, don’t worry about it”……. This baby member of the deer family didn’t seem in the least bit concerned. More importantly, it’s the mother who is unusually good with me. The fawns take their cues from mom. They should grow up allowing me near their world the more of these I do with them.
Now, I’m just another big black smelly, noisy grazing animal to them. I have no interest what so ever in startling them. If they are afraid of me, they will never let me close again. I eventually drove away having driven past them not far away leaving them essentially undisturbed. They were better than the sunset behind me for sure.
Photographic Musings: The lighting was perfect with the sun directly over my shoulders. Golden Hour, golden colorcast can be a problem which tends to make deer darker in color and orange out whites as that is the actual color of the light. I loved working this lighting. There are a dozen other captures from this encounter that are finished waiting for a narrative. Stay tuned… This is the twin with the perfect ears. The other is easy to ID. I’m working on names.
The Doe is used to me as much as ANY I’ve photographed in quite a while. She passes this lack of fear on to her twin fawns. The one in front has a split hear like it’s mother (same ear too). That fawns ear isn’t quite as notable as it’s mothers notch but I’ll be watching these two. They should be very used to me by winter. I hope not to scare them in any way so that they accept me as just another grazing animal of no threat to them.
Usually mothers with fawns are essentially unapproachable. You get beautiful photo of their rump running away. The southbound side of a north bound deer in other words.
These guys and I have been playing hide and seek for a many weeks now. The fawns and doe survived the 3 inch hail dump for 1/2 an hour a few weeks ago. Most of the pasture is flattened but this particular field still has grass with heads. It’s not reduced to straw in other words. I’m sure these guys didn’t like that hail storm a bit.
This is the first of a dozen or more amazing captures of this family out in the grasslands. This was one of the first and thus furthest away from the clients. I will take photos, then move a little, take photos, move a little over and over until I’m filling camera frames with faces and eyebrows. This was late afternoon golden hour but this is early. The later timeline captures are marvelously color cast by the setting sun. Stay tuned as they mingle into my workflow.
I often run into wild animal encounters in my truck. It is a black vehicle that these guys have seen a few times now. Usually a white tail mother randomly encountered will run away with it’s fawns. The mother and twin this fawn was with were just down hill from me having passed in front of me on the two track trail. They they stopped and settled down as I did the same thing. Patience and slow movement. Mostly stopping/ shutting off your motor will go a LONG way to calm down the mom. This family unit has seen me a few times thus the patience with my presence. 🌲
This was taken after sunset in very flat twilight illumination so it’s a little odd (at least to me). But Odd can be good and in this case, I suggest a full screen examination of those ears. I have never seen whitetail ears so well defined / patterned inside as this little fellow. I not the most astute observer of deer and maybe they all have this.It was cool anyway. It may be a trick of the low light that I took this under.
You will not the coarse “Sweet Clover” stalks it stands in. They have been decimated several times over by the hails storm that went through here a few weeks ago. I just saw my first sunflower the next morning from when I captured this. There are more to this time line that will be forthcoming. These Whitetail Fawns survived the up to 3 inch hail for 1/2 an hour that did this.
It’s not too often I get to know a Whitetail Family. These two twins have now been well photographed this spring having spent several sunsets with them of late. I can drive up to good functional lens distance from them and not change their behavior any. After a few minutes, unless I move, they are not watching me. They were grazing. The Raptor I drive, shuts down it’s engine automatically upon braking to a stop. Saves gas I understand. It also makes it very handy to a guy who used to have to use the key to do that. These guys could care less if the truck starts or stops at this point. Initially I think it was a big deal. I left their proximity without spooking the group at all. Saw them later that evening down toward their water / night spot.
But the interactions between the fawns are what is the best thing to watch. Photographing twins is a pleasure at this age. (Them and Me lolol) Both are having fun in this fairly good pasture. Little Hail Damage here. Natural deer behavior doesn’t involve sticking their tongue at each other but I’d like to think it does. These two were definitely messing with each other at the time. Playing at the Dinner table.
Note the notched ear on the right fawn. I can follow it through it’s life now that it is familiar with me. Knowing how to recognize it is the game. Now for a name……