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.
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.
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.
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……
Before their mother found them, they saw her. I was watching them from my black F-150 Raptor, engine off, LONG Canon f4 600mm lens, Sony Alpha 7R4 back (pretty good gear) sitting out of the drivers window. I could see their mother moving toward them in my peripheral vision off to the side. I mount the lens on the window so it’s pretty stable. That particular SuperTelephoto works well to look into places where other long lenses fear to tread. There wasn’t enough light there for a lighter 600 mm with less light gathering ability.
These two were licking their lips in anticipation (I have those photos too lol). Here they both watch as their mother takes her time grazing over to them. To their credit, they didn’t rush over to her but once permission was given, they went to town on getting some milk from the bar.
I’ve never seen a better set of spots on fawns. They will only have them until fall when their winter coat starts coming in. I think they make them stand out more but mother nature (who knows best) decided that they should look that way. Apparently, move fawns survived that had those spots than those that did not. That seems to be how things generally work up here. Better camo means your not seen. What works, works. Other methods fail which is an evolutionary dead end. If you don’t survive to reproduce, any characteristics beneficial or otherwise you may possess fade away from the gene pool from the view of this Paleontologist.
Boy this was tough lighting. When the late “Golden Hour” afternoon long traveled photons arrive, there is a tendency for them to be skewed significantly toward the reddish side of the spectrum. The fur colors of Pronghorn I’ve looked at very carefully over the years considering what different colorcast light does to it. This image runs the gamut literally.
Pronghorn fawns seem to be darker than their mother in every situation I’ve ever seen. This is about as red/tan as they EVER are. Even under this red light. Granted I’m just looking at my local population so it’s not a controlled observation. Pronghorn are generally very lightly colored tan. Darker animals are usually made that way by the photo editor boosting the color of the rest of the image. This brings along the coat to the color of a deer. I’ve seen some lighting turn them darker. Shade versus sunlight is another factor. In this image, it was the color of the sunlight that made it hard for me (the photo finisher) to get the animals to look the right color. If I let the raw image through un-edited they would have been VERY red.
All these Pronghorn are females. Males have dark cheek patches. There is still a lot of grass out on the prairie but there are a LOT of grasshoppers happily consuming already dry, headed out stunted grass.
These two week old fawns are following their mother across a pretty good run along side of my Pickup truck. There of course was no threat from me. Pronghorn tend to run along with vehicles just to remind themselves they are the fastest land animal in North America. Typically they will do their best to speed up and run across the road in front of your vehicle. Since the local backcountry speed limit is 45 mph, typically, they can and do pass you. I’m not sure if there is an evolutionary advantage to telling your pursuers that you are faster…. Maybe next time they won’t try??? 🤔 😜 In two decades of riding these backcountry gravel roads, I’ve only hit one Pronghorn with a vehicle. We custom build bumpers just for such things on our vehicles so no damage to the truck but the Pronghorn didn’t do as well. 😔
Mom had twins because last year was a banner year for grass. Her body reacted and doubled down on the survivability this summer. So far, it is early July and the Grass is totally brown. The grasshoppers are already competing for the meager grass crop cut short by both a dry year cutting mandibles. The grasshoppers are as thick as I remember them since I’ve lived here but I assure you that they could and probably will get worse. India, Saudi Arabia and Africa are having REAL Plague of Locust Biblical stuff at the moment. Let’s not go there please ☹️ It’s going to be hard on that mother. ….
Last year was a good environment to set up for multiple births of Pronghorn fawns this spring. Ultimately it may have been a cruel trick as while there is still grass growing, it is very dry. Worse, grasshoppers are thicker than recent memory. Malathion is a well used fumigant but it kills the good bugs too so it is a double edged sword. Some ranchers sprayed by plane over their ground. They have grasshoppers too as far as I can tell. The point is, later in the year, the Pronghorn are going to be competing with the jumpers for food I’m afraid. We are even taking precautions around our greenhouses to properly seal them from the invasion.
Each Pronghorn mother during estrus releases 6 eggs (I have been told). All of which fertilize, the mother sloughs off an appropriate number based on the environmental conditions. Twins and even triplets on the good year like last year. IT was green until august. This year, it’s only early July and it’s brown already. I know of one set of triplets and have seen several twins with various moms. These guys were typical fawns galavanting around like they own the place. Mother was typically ignoring them but keeping her eye on the surrounding threat matrix. Getting terribly close to Pronghorn babies is not going to happen regularly. I only have a few Does that tolerate my trucks presence. Others not so much lolol.
This “Mother Whitetail Deer with a pair of 6 month old Twins watches me while they are grazing. I was no threat to them and moved on without disturbing the kids…. Last I saw mom was still keeping her eye on the tail of my rig lol. I’ve seen these twins before and know where they water and tend to hang out. If I’m stealthy, I can usually get their image well enough without having to get in their face.
Both me (in what ever vehicle I’m in) and the groups of deer are usually surprised by the occasionally random encounters I have with them. For my part, They have never been pushed intentionally by me. Thusly they usually allow me to get much closer than the average photographer to my “prey” without stressing them and making them move off. Quick movements they don’t like.
This loose “tolerance” of my vehicles (which I never get out of unless it hides me). My loose relationship with many of these animals is the result of years of trying not to be a threat, them seeing me as they grow up every morning and evening. I tend to drive/act/move like a grazing animal in small movements, slowly working toward but stopping and stopping along the way to “graze” like every other animal out there. I’ve literally been able to drive out among several herds of grazing deer in the past. This year not so much but in past years it was becoming a habit of mine to “work” the deer herds. (I’ve seen herds up to 20 gather in some places near here (all private land and a huge area). Keeping my finger on the pulse of the backcountry up here has been an advantage. Dinosaur fossils, photos, 4 wheel drive daily, nature at least 3 hours a day every day that has good light….Sure, I’m “retired”….. Or is that actually “more tired” 🤣
This ground is under Snow as I type this (it posts one week later). Time Warp……I have to think a week ahead to do as I do. 🤔