Yearling Buck: A Year in Pictures

Learning and understanding how to use a camera continues as a challenge.  I’ve missed more shots than I’ve gotten.  Yesterday, I practically stepped on one of the foxes before I realized it was there, and, of course, missed the shot.  I also saw the dominant doe with the female yearling but forgot to adjust the light settings on the camera, completely forgetting that I had it set for low light because of cloud cover just as the sun broke through the clouds.

I’ve been photographing these deer for about a year now.  My first shots of Big Boy last year while in velvet are known to my friends because I couldn’t stop talking about how he walked through a field with me and let me photograph him.  In my own words, it was a very cool day.  When I took the picture below, I didn’t realize at the time I was taking pictures of Big Boy’s son and daughter.  The shot isn’t very good, but I had absolutely no clue how to use this camera then.  And while on most days I still feel clueless about photography, I still manage to get some decent shots.


He’s curious about people but his parents have taught him well.  He knows to run and hide from humans, though his curiosity gets the best of him and sometimes he will walk right up to within thirty feet of me.  He’s about thirty feet from me in this shot but I didn’t have the auto-focus set right, so instead of focusing on him, the camera focused on the bush to the right.  I’ve since learned how to resolve that issue.


Throughout Fall and early Winter I kept seeing these deer, but continued to miss the shots.  In this shot I saw them running through the beach picnic area and the crunching snow beneath my feet scared them even more and they seemed to go into hyper-gear.  The four of them jumped and leaped and bounded in every possible direction and this is the only shot of them that remotely looks like a deer.

I spent the rest of Winter practicing on Eagles, Ducks, Geese and anything else I could find to take pictures of, while still trying to find the deer and get their picture.  The snow and ice melted and moving around in the park got easier and quieter.  In March I found where Big Boy and his family reside and started getting some nice shots.  I’m still kind of surprised that he tolerates me around him and his family.


After taking this shot and getting home to look at it on my monitor, I realized I had taken pictures of the two fawns from last Fall and decided to return to the same part of the park to get more shots.


With patience and practice I slowly began getting better shots of him and his sister as they grew.


And, finally, after reading some of your blogs, pestering my professional photographer friends, reading the camera manuals and thumbing through The KISS Guide to Photography; I got this shot.  I had vowed at this point not to name them because they’re not pets.  They may be used to humans but they’re still wild animals and I don’t want to think of them as pets, so I won’t get too close and scare them and cause them to run out in front of a car.  I just kept referring to him and his sister as the yearlings.


Later in the Spring, he began staying close to his mother.  She’s very attentive and affectionate with the yearlings but more so with him at this point.  I knew why.


Could it be she was saying good-bye?  A few weeks ago, I noticed the females had grouped together and while I couldn’t get shots of them, the males had also grouped together.  As spring progresses, the females go off on their own because the younger does have to learn about birthing.  The males group together to defend their territory and distract potential predators from the females.  Behavior I noticed a couple weeks ago when I took the shot below.


I had gone back into one of the areas where these deer live and found the yearlings by themselves.  They jumped to their feet and separated.  The female yearling moved further back into the brush, while the yearling male moved closer toward me and kept himself between her and I.  I’ve been calling him Braveheart ever since.  I saw him again yesterday and he’s not hanging out with his mom and sister anymore.  He’s running with Big Boy, and he’s in velvet.


(click any picture for a larger view)


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May 2009
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