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Posts Tagged ‘white-tailed deer’

Male White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) shed their antlers during the winter and start to grow a new set in early spring. When I first spotted the pointed white tips of deer antlers while exploring Prince William Forest Park this past Wednesday, I assumed that they were shed antlers. As I got closer, I was shocked to see that they were still attached to the skull of the now dead deer.

We have an overpopulation of White-tailed Deer in our area, in part because there are not many natural predators. I couldn’t help wondering how this large buck met his demise. Was it a coyote or fox? Was it disease, starvation, or old age? Whatever the cause of death, scavengers had done their part and the only other body parts that I spotted in the immediate area were several small spinal sections.

Later that day, I spotted a second set of antlers with the skull still attached. These antlers, shown in the second photo below, showed more damage and it is hard to tell how large they may have initially been. As was the case with the first deer, there were few parts of the deer carcass in the surrounding area—the only parts I saw in the surrounding area were the lower jaw bones.

I spend a good deal of time out in nature, but see only a small part of what really takes place in the areas that I visit. Spring often makes us think of new life as baby birds and animals are born and trees and flowers emerge with new growth. These antlers, however, are a sober reminder that death is also a part of the cycle of life for the wildlife that I enjoy observing and photographing.

 

White-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Deer hunting is conducted from early September to late February in many of the county-run parks where I take photographs. Our area is over-populated with White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and hunting is one element of a comprehensive deer management program. I am personally not a hunter, but I understand the need to try to keep the population in check to limit the likelihood of collisions with cars or of deer dying from starvation during the winter months.

No areas of these parks are closed during this hunting season, which might sound dangerous, but there are strict requirements that the hunters must follow. Most notably they have to be trained and certified archers and must shoot from tree stands. Most people never see the tree stands because they are in remote areas of the parks, but those are precisely the areas that I like to visit.

During recent trips to Occoquan Regional Park, I spotted the tree stand shown in the first photo below. No archers were sitting in the stand, though in the past I have spotted occupied tree stands a couple of times. The second image shows one of several trail cameras that I have seen at this park this year. The cameras that I have spotted in the past were more primitive—they recorded to a memory card that had to be retrieved and reviewed. The markings on the camera shown indicated that it could transmit on a cell phone signal. The manufacturer’s website notes that images can be sent in real-time or transmitted in a batch at periodic intervals during the day.

How does all of this affect me? I am not deterred from visiting these locations, but I am extra alert and cautious when I know there are tree stands nearby. I also make sure that I smile whenever I spot a trail camera—I never know when someone is watching me.

tree stand

trail camera

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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The most common view that I have had of White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) the last few months has been of their bobbing tails as they ran away from me. Last week, however, I managed to capture some shots of a young buck as it ran laterally across a trail at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

When I first spotted the deer, its head was just sticking out of the vegetation at the edge of the trail. As you can see in the first image, the deer looked straight at me and seemed to hesitate a moment before deciding what to do. Without much warning, the deer sprung into action and I was able to capture these shots as the young deer bounded across the trail. Note how the deer had only a single hoof in contact with the ground in many of the photos.

White-tailed Deer

 

White-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Whenever folks of my generation catch sight of a spotted fawn, we invariably think of the animated Disney movie Bambi, a movie that is an integral part of  our collective memory of childhood. Perhaps we remember the friendship of Bambi, Thumper,  and Flower or the love of Bambi and Faline  or the shocking death of Bambi’s mother. Our memories of the movie may vary, but I think we all feel a soft spot in our hearts if we are lucky enough to catch sight of a fawn.

I spotted this little deer on Tuesday at Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia. It was down in a small valley at the edge of some heavy vegetation. I watched from a distance from my higher vantage point as the fawn poked about in the vegetation. At some point, the fawn became aware of my presence and looked straight at me through its soft brown eyes. The deer held its gaze for what seemed like a long time and it faded into the underbrush and the spell was broken.

Thanks, Bambi, for sharing those magical moments with me.

Bambi

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I hope that the title did not lead to an expectation that you would find photos of tiny deer in this posting. It may have been a stretch to use that title, but I wanted to give a hint of the fact that I captured all of these images with my macro lens. In fact, the first two images are uncropped, which gives you an idea of how close I was to the deer.

Yesterday I set off for Occoquan Regional Park to search primarily for dragonflies and butterflies. I put my Tamron 180 mm macro lens on my camera, a lens which is my go-to lens for much of the spring and summer. Now I must confess that the reach of this macro lens is a bit longer than the average macro lens, which generally has a focal length of 100 mm or so, but it certainly would not be my first choice for wildlife photography.

I was sitting on a log taking a break when I heard some nearby noise in the underbrush. I stood up, expecting to see a scurrying squirrel, and suddenly was face-to face with a White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus). For a considerable amount of time the deer eyed me with curiosity before slowly moving away. As I watched the deer depart, I noticed another deer, one with amazingly long ears. As I prepared to photograph the second deer, the first one photobombed us, resulting in the third image.

This situation reinforced to me the importance of shooting with whatever camera or lens that I happen to have at hand. It may not be the optimal option, but it can often yield surprisingly good results.

Whiite-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Yesterday I was thrilled to observe a group of White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) fording a stream at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The activity level of all kinds of creatures seems to be picking up as we move closer to or deeper into spring, depending on how you calculate the start of spring. The bottom of the body of water they were crossing seemed to be uneven and the deer had to move carefully. At one point it looked like they even had to swim a few steps, especially the smaller deer.

As I watched the deer, I was reminded of the lyrics of one of the songs from The Sound of Music that included the words “ford every stream.” Folks of my generation may well remember the inspirational message of the song “Climb Every Mountain,” which I have included below, as found at metrolyrics.com.

Here’s hoping that you will find your dreams, irrespective of whether or not it involves fording streams or climbing mountains.

“Climb every mountain,
Search high and low,
Follow every byway,
Every path you know.

Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
‘Till you find your dream.

A dream that will need
All the love you can give,
Every day of your life
For as long as you live.”

White-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

 

White-tailed Deer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I spotted this curious little White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.  The deer appears to have moved out of the cute little Bambi phase and seemed more like a gawky adolescent to me (though I confess I know very little about deer development).

I like the fact that you can still see some of its white spots, which look to be a little faded.

white-tailed deer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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This little buck seemed more curious than fearful when he spotted me on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. He continued to forage in a marshy area for a while before he finally disappeared from sight.

I know that we have a herd of White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) on the wildlife refuge, though I see deer only on rare occasions. This little deer seemed to be alone and I was really struck by the shape of his antlers. It looks to me like they might be his first set of antlers, though I confess to knowing almost nothing about the stages of development of a deer.  The shape of the antlers reminds me of photos that I have seen of several species of antelope in Africa.

white-tailed deer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I spotted this White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) this past Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge as it carefully made its way across one of the small streams that crisscross the refuge.

This deer was lagging behind a small group of four deer that I initially spotted. That group pretty quickly and I was not really ready for them, so my photos were not that good. I was quite happy when this final deer appeared and I was able to get some shots. I couldn’t tell for sure how stable the footing was where the deer was crossing, but the deer did appear to be very careful as it chose places to place its feet.

deer crossing

deer crossing

deer crossing

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Half-hidden by the vegetation, this shy little White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) gently gazed at me for several moments and then slowly turned and disappeared from sight last Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Sometimes wildlife sightings set my heart racing in excitement, but this one left me feeling peaceful and mellow and a bit contemplative.

white-tailed deer

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As I scanned a field this morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I suddenly became aware of a pair of eyes staring back at me from the high vegetation. We shared a couple of moments of eye-to-eye contact before the handsome buck turned around and disappeared from sight.

There is an overabundance of White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in our area and as part of an effort to maintain the deer herd at a healthy level compatible with planned habitat goals and objectives, the wildlife refuge will be closed for several days in December for deer hunting. I know that topic of deer hunting is controversial to some, but the unfortunate alternative would be deer starving to death or being hit by cars as they seek to forage elsewhere. Still, it’s a little hard for me emotionally to look at this beautiful animal with the knowledge that someone else might soon be shooting at him with a gun rather than with a camera.

White-tailed Deer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It looks like a massive amount of fluorescent Silly String has exploded onto parts of the marshland at Huntley Meadows Park, but I believe it is in reality a parasitic plant known as dodder. Early yesterday afternoon a White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) found it to be so tasty that it was willing to ignore the people passing on the boardwalk less than ten feet away.

In taking this photo, I did something that I rarely do—I used the 150mm setting of my 150-600mm telephoto zoom lens. The deer was so close that I could capture only its head and shoulders, even with the lens at its widest setting.

 

deer and dodder

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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The White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) seemed alert but unafraid when they first sensed my presence early one recent morning at Huntley Meadows Park. I watched them graze for a while before they silently faded back into the tree line.

white-tailed deer

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Great Egrets (Ardea alba) always seem to me to be a little vain and self-centered—maybe if comes from being so beautiful and graceful. This one did not like being ignored, so it decided to photobomb my shot of a deer this past weekend at Huntley Meadows Park .

Great Egret

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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A White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) seemed curious about the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) perched on a log, but the heron remained impassive and did not react as the deer passed behind it early Saturday morning at Huntley Meadows Park.

Peaceful co-existence—we could all use some more of that in our daily lives.

peaceful co-existence

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I don’t see deer very often at my local marshland park. When I do, it is generally only a flash of their white tails as they bound out of sight. On Friday, however, I spotted a young White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) foraging in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park on the other side of a small stream from where I was located.

I stopped and crouched and the deer slowly moved closer and closer to me. I think that the deer was aware of my presence, but did not seem to view me as a threat. I did not want to move around too much for fear of spooking the deer, so I used the lens that was on my camera at that moment and stayed in place. A 180mm macro lens would not have been my first choice for photographing a deer, but it worked out surprisingly well.

As the deer moved forward, I thought it might try to hop over the stream right where I was at, but eventually the deer moved upstream a bit and made its way to the side of the stream on which I was standing. It lingered for a while in a field before it finally disappeared from sight.

Here are a few shots from my encounter with the young deer. My favorite one might be the first one—I had no idea that deer were so flexible. The third image, which I only cropped a little gives you an idea of how close the deer was to me.

White-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Last Saturday, the final day of the 5+ month deer hunting season at Huntley Meadows Park, I was startled to see the unmistakable shape of deer antlers on the ground a short distance away from where I was standing. As I moved closer, I saw that it was only some kind of decoy used by the hunters.

deer decoy

Looking up, I realized I was at the base of an unoccupied tree stand. I felt a little safer knowing that there were no archers in the stand at that moment.

tree stand

I understand the problems caused in our area by an overpopulation of White-tailed Deer and the reason for the extended hunting season. Still, I am somewhat amused by the lengths to which the county goes to avoid using words like “hunting” or “killing.” Instead, they refer to the “archery program” and “deer management.” Deer management? I have visions of a deer CEO.

deer3_20Feb_blog

On Monday the 22nd, I returned to the park and was surprised to see that least some of the tree stands were still present. I am sure that someone will eventually come to retrieve the stands, but I am going remain alert, just in case one of the stands happens to be occupied despite the stated end of the deer hunting season.

deer stand

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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We visit our local parks and wildlife refuges for a short while and return home, forgetting sometimes that many of the creatures we observed live and die within the confines of these small (or not so small) areas. As I wander through Huntley Meadows Park, I see signs of this entire circle of life. Lives have ended and, as we move into spring, new lives are beginning.

Whenever I come across skeletal remains, a clump of feathers, or other evidence of the death of a bird or an animal, I cannot help but wonder how the creature met its demise. Was it a predator, old age, sickness, or starvation? Life can be harsh in the wild, especially in the winter.

As far as I can tell, the animal in the first photo is a raccoon (Procyon lotor). Several months ago a fellow photographer mentioned that he had seen the dead body of a raccoon inside a hollow in the trunk of a fallen tree. I thought that predators would have dismembered the body by now, but instead it seems to be slowly decomposing in its sheltered position.

The skull is the second photo is that of a White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Other body parts of the deer were scattered about in the same area where I spotted the skull. There are concerns that the deer population is too high for the park to support, so there is a chance this deer died from starvation.

I know that these photos, especially the first one, are pretty graphic and apologize in advance to those who may have found them to be excessively disturbing.

raccoon

White-tailed Deer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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In the quiet of the early morning I often will stand at the water’s edge, watching and waiting to see if any animals will emerge from the woods to get a drink of water. Sometimes my patience is rewarded.

On this occasion, two White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) appeared. One of them kept its back to me most of the time and I was unable to get a clear shot of it. The other deer was a bit more cooperative and I manage to get some shots of it as it drank and then walked about a little bit before fading back into the woods.

Deer always seem so gentle and beautiful—a perfect match for the soft early morning light.

White-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I never quite know what I will stumble upon when I wander about in remote areas of the woods, fields, and marshes of Huntley Meadows Park. This past weekend I spotted this skull, which I guess is that of a White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus), a common species where I live. How did this deer meet its demise? Was it old age, disease, starvation, or a predator?

Somehow this simple image of a skull seems appropriate for Halloween Week. Happy Halloween in advance.

White-tailed Deer

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To post or not to post? For over a week, I have gone back and forth in my mind, trying to decide if I should post this image. Most of my deliberation has centered around the indisputable fact that significant parts of the main subject, a young White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), are obscured by the leaves and branches. Does the foliage add to the image or detract from it?

Ultimately, I decided that the emotional impact of the fawn’s gentle eyes, staring out at me from behind the curtain of leaves, trumped all other consideration. The leaves actually help to draw attention to those eyes, with their unbelievably long lashes.

What makes a good photo? I think a lot about that question as I go over my images. How heavily do I weigh technical and creative considerations? Most of the time, as was the case here, I’ll decide with my heart.

fawn

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Last weekend I encountered an adorable family of White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) while walking along a sandy area of Holmes Run, a stream not far from where I live that eventually flows into the Potomac River.

I had unobstructed views of the deer and was able to get some shots with my telephoto zoom without scaring them away. Unfortunately, the loud sounds of a passing freight train caused them to turn and run into the brush as I was trying to get shots from additional angles.

Still, I am happy with my results and think the sand adds a different look to my normal shots of deer in vegetation.

White-tailed deer

White-tailed deer

White-tailed deer

White-tailed deer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Sunrise yesterday was at 5:59 and I managed to get this shot of a beautiful little fawn in the cattails at 6:05, when there was just barely enough light for my camera to focus.

Summer weather in the Washington D.C. area is often miserable—hot and humid—and I decided to visit my local marshland park really early to avoid some of the oppressive heat. When I left my house in the pre-dawn darkness, however, it was already 80 degrees (27 degrees C) on a day that was forecast to reach 96 degrees (35 degrees C).

I could hear a lot of movement in the marsh as I made my way along the board walk and occasionally would catch a glimpse of some activity as it grew progressively lighter. I encountered another photographer and he was the one who spotted the fawn and pointed it out to me—I am pretty sure that I would not have seen it without his help.

We didn’t see any adult White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) with the fawn, but their presence could easily have been hidden by the thick stand of cattails. I had time to snap off only a few photos before the fawn slowly turned his back on us and slowly faded into the background.

What a wonderful way to start my day.

fawn

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I know that there are deer at Huntley Meadows Park, the suburban marshland park where I take many of my photos, but I rarely see any of them. Perhaps they too see the posted signs warning of archery hunting to keep the population in control.

Saturday morning, however, I spotted three White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in an open area in front of a stand of cattails.  The deer grazed for a little while before fading silently back into the forest and I managed to get a few shots of them.

It’s a nice change of pace to get some shots of mammals at a time of the year when so many of my postings are devoted to insects.

White-tailed deer

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Through the trees I spotted a small group of White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) consisting of a larger doe and some smaller deer—there seemed to be no buck. The deer were foraging for food, picking a few remaining berries from some thorny bushes and poking about on the ground. One of the deer appeared to be keeping watch and periodically would stare right at me. After a few minutes at that one spot, the deer moved on and so did I.

White-tailed DeerWhite-tailed DeerWhite-tailed DeerWhite-tailed Deer

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Shortly after I spotted some deer on a little ridge immediately in front of me, they started to run toward the treeline. Without thinking about my camera settings, I pressed the shutter button, hoping to capture the action. If I had been paying more attention, I would have realized that a shutter speed of 1/100th of  a second would not freeze the motion, especially when shooting at the far end of my 70-300mm lens.

When I reviewed my images on my computer, it was pretty obvious what had happened without even looking at the EXIF data. Many of the shots were blurry, but I really liked this image. Instinctively I had panned as I had tracked the deer, blurring the background, and I managed to capture the deer with its hind legs in the air. In many ways, this slightly out of focus shot captures a sense of motion even better than if I had been able to freeze the action by using a higher shutter speed.

I try to be conscious about the settings on my camera at any given moment, but I am happy in this case that my inattention caused the wrong settings to be just right.

White-tailed Deer

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It’s been quite a while since I have seen a mammal in the wild bigger than a squirrel, so I was pretty happy when I spotted a group of four deer foraging in a wooded area of my marshland park late in the day. The four White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) were rooting about in the undergrowth and surprisingly did not run away immediately when they sensed my presence. Several of them looked in my direction at times, but then resumed their activity.

I was easily within range to get some shots, but the trees and the grassy growth made it tough to get unobstructed photos. This image of what is undoubtedly a young deer is my favorite of the ones that I was able to shoot that day.

For me, this little deer qualifies as “big game.”

White-tailed deer

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These images are disturbing, especially the first one. They show the harsh reality of the struggle for survival for wild creatures, even in the relatively comfortable confines of a suburban marshland park.

For the second time this winter, I stumbled upon a dead deer in a remote area of my the marsh when I take many of my wildlife photos. (I documented the earlier sighting in a posting that I titled “The Buck Was Stopped Here.”) This time, the skeleton was relatively intact and I was surprised to see that it was another buck. I am still baffled about the cause of his death. Predators? Starvation?

As a photographer and as a human, I struggled in deciding how to present this subject in photographs. I knew that I was not going to remove the body far from where I found it, so I had to settle for a relatively cluttered backdrop. Was it better to show the whole body, as I did in the third photo and keep death at a distance? Should I photograph it to look like the deer had fallen asleep and died peacefully, as the second shot suggests, the way we treat death at a funeral home?

I decided that my best shot was the one in which I forced the viewer essentially to look death in the face directly, by focusing directly on the deer’s now empty eye socket. Death is a reality that can’t be avoided. The photo is a bit macabre, I know, but it speaks to me of life and of death, of the passing of one of God’s creatures.

buck_small2_blogbuck_small1_blogbuck_small3_blog

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Hiking through a remote area of my local marshland park yesterday, I came upon the skull of a dead deer with some impressive-looking antlers. I don’t know much about deer, but the antlers are enough to tell me that it was a buck and, if I understand the counting system right, it was a six-point buck  (three on each side). Initially I saw only the skull, but when I investigated the marsh grass in the surrounding area, I saw some of the larger bones of the deer.

The White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the park don’t have many natural predators, so I can’t help but wonder what caused this buck’s demise. There are coyotes in the park, so I guess that is a possibility. At certain times of the year, archers also shoot deer and I have been told that police sharpshooters sometimes hunt deer at night, but my understanding is that they try to recover the bodies and turn the meat over to homeless shelters. Whatever the case, the animals and birds of the park had picked the bones clean.

I took these shots primarily to record my find, not to make any kind of artistic statement. I used a couple of elements in the area where I found the skull to prop it up so that I could photograph some of the details of this once beautiful animal.

deer_skull1_blogdeer_skull2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I don’t often see deer in the daylight at my local marshland park, so I was a bit surprised last week when a doe came running out of the cattails and began to pick her way thought the ducks that were foraging in the shallow water. She was immediately followed by a smaller doe, who was also running.

What was going on? What had spooked these two deer? I didn’t have to wait long for an answer. A small buck emerged and started chasing the other two deer through the water.

I don’t know if they were just playing or if the buck had amorous intentions, but it gave me the chance to get a few shots of what passes as “big game” for me.

doe_big_blogdoe_little_blogbuck2_blogbuck_blog

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In the faint light and fog of the pre-dawn hour, I watched the shadowy forms of a small group of deer move slowly across an open area at my local marsh, heading for the treeline. My attempts to photograph them while they were moving were not successful. Once they reached the edge of the trees, however, this male White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) stopped for a moment and looked back at me. A moment later, he was gone.

deer3_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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