Monday, December 31, 2007

A Splash of Color

Kerri’s recent post about finding color in the winter got me to thinking. Our winter world does seem to display nothing but shades of gray at first glance. If we allow ourselves the time to look closer we will find those grays made up of many colors and textures.

This morning I awoke to find my area blanketed in two inches of fresh snow. As today was a holiday away from work I ventured to a nearby overlook to photograph the sunrise followed by a hike around the Meadow Grounds Lake. It was a fruitful morning providing me with many snow shots including my new header.

During this trip I noticed the orange color of the sunrise, the pink/orange of it reflected on the new snow, the browns of the tree trunks and of the dead plants, the blues of the water and sky, the reds of small berries and of Cardinals flitting about, along with the deep greens of the evergreen trees highlighted by the snow laying upon their bows. I realized that I was surrounded by color, beautiful color. No, it isn’t the same as lush greens of spring or the vibrant flowers of summer or the lovely splashes of foliage in autumn but it is winter; beautiful and colorful in its own right.

Upon returning home, while tending to a few chores outside, I was very much surprised to find this lone dandelion blooming.

A Splash of Color on a Winter Day!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Another Barred Owl Encounter

As I was driving along PA 915 between two stretches of State Forestry road a large bird swooped across the roadway landing on an upright snag. Fortunately the berm was wide enough that I had room to saftely pull the car off the roadway.

The owl watched me intently while I clicked the shutter rapidly. I only captured two images. By the third shot all I caught was tail feathers of a rapidly departing bird.

Encountering these birds of the night is extremely rare. I feel that I have been very fortunate to have had two separate encounters in the last two months with both resulting in successful photographs.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Wildlife Abstract

This image came as somewhat of a surprise. While I was shooting a male Cardinal he turned and flew away. Upon reviewing my images I found I had captured this shot of his outstretched wing.

I think its pretty cool :)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Red-Tailed Hawk, close but no Great Image

Monday morning, shortly before I encountered the flock of robins, I spotted this Red-Tail perched on a branch, completely exposed. As I brought the car to a stop the hawk swooped off of its perch flying about fifty yards to alight in this tree where a number of branches provided cover. Not only had the distance increased but shooting through the brush made focusing quite difficult.

This is the best photograph I have obtained of a Red-tailed hawk. The colors in the photograph are extremely warm as it was taken while the morning sun was rising above the horizon.

Hopefully, someday I will have an opportunity to capture some truly good photographs of one of these majestic hawks.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Heavenly Fire

It rained all day Sunday but as the day came to a close the sun peaked through. My wife who was sitting facing the window commented upon how beautiful the sky had become. Amy (Ash) grabbed her camera and headed for the front door. My little Canon S2 was handy so I scooped it up and followed.

This image was made with the exposure compensation set at -1 stop.

Christmas Goose

While taking a drive through our country side Christmas evening I noticed this pair of geese sitting along a farm pond. My attention was drawn to their reflection and immediately I knew it was a “must have” image.

Christmas day was unusually mild. The resident geese, which had been spending their time in large flocks, were split up in pairs as they do in the spring during the nesting season. I wonder if the mild temperatures have them somewhat confused.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wildlife Photography, Expect the Unexpected

Monday morning I once again headed out before dawn in search of images. The stars were shining brightly so there was no hope for a stunning sunrise. I decided to drive the top of nearby Sidling Hill Mountain is search of wildlife. My first two encounters ended in failure, first with a ruffed grouse and then with a red-tailed hawk. In each situation, try as I might, capturing a good image was not to be.

Some time after the sunrise I began noticing many birds flying low across the road and landing nearby. They were Robins! No, spring has not come to Pennsylvania, but this was an absolutely huge flock feeding busily in the woodland! After pulling off the road I eased into a concentration of them with my Canon 30D and 100-400 lens.

This was an amazing experience! The robins were moving across the forest floor by the hundreds. Robins were everywhere; hopping, flying, scratching, landing, calling and all were eating. It was like one huge noisy machine comprised of thousands upon thousands of small independent parts moving through the woods harvesting all edible morsels in its path.

I later learned as I drove out of the area that this flock was spread out along four miles of the mountaintop.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas is for Kids

Nothing lights up a child’s eyes like dreams of Christmas

Christmas trees, Santa Claus, Reindeer, and Sleighs; the Manger, Mary, Joseph, the Three Wise Men and the Baby Jesus are all a part of Christmas but for a child these things are all trimmings.

The Real Meaning of Christmas is………….PRESENTS!

Lots and Lots of Presents!!!

Kyla’s eyes lit up when I asked her to pose in front of her Christmas tree. With a flick of her head her hair fell perfectly in place; her beautiful smile lit up the room complete with a few traces of chocolate ice cream pie showing :)

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I’m sorry I cannot get around to all of your blogs to wish each one of you a Merry Christmas individually but with so many cyber friends and my slow dial-up it would be nearly impossible.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Christmas Bird

Birds visiting the feeder on our deck frequently perch in our spruce tree nearby.

I like the background the spruce provides but to capture birds here I must shoot at an angle through a double pane window. The window glass degrades the sharpness some but I like the soft focus effect in this photograph.

To me the male Cardinal with his bright red plumage will always be the Christmas Bird.

Although he doesn’t carry gifts or use a team of reindeer and a sleigh, he does fly around all dressed up like Santa Claus.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Ursula's Tree

Our good friend Ursula had a problem. Her beautiful Canadian Spruce tree, planted beside her driveway, had grown too large. When it was smaller it had enhanced the beauty of her home but now it had grown so large that it was blocking her view as she exited her driveway. At eighty four years of age Ursula no longer could put up with this safety hazard. The tree must come down.

Instead of paying someone to dispose of the tree, Ursula donated it to her town. For this Christmas season it stands proudly in the Greencastle town square for all to enjoy.

Friday, December 21, 2007

National Crane gives Santa a Lift

I wonder how Santa got all of his work done before he had modern conveniences at his disposal.

Santa is shown here topping the tree at the Manitowoc plant in Shady Grove Pa. The Manitowoc Crane Group produces cranes under the Manitowoc, Grove, National, and Potain brands in plants around the world

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Make it Snow

If nature won’t provide the snow Whitetail Resort will

Monday while driving my daily commute I noticed in the distance that Whitetail was making snow.

The stark contrast between light and shadow, mountains and sky is what drew me to pause and photograph this scene.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Mourning Dove

The Mourning Dove is a year around resident in our area. In neighboring Franklin County where huge flocks exist, dove hunting is quite popular. In our county few hunters bother the doves.

I have heard hunters mention that they feel they are having a good day if they can shoot their limit of twelve birds with two boxes of shells (50 shots). Considering the dove’s small size and their ability to reach speeds of 55mph while doing twist and turns they are quite a challenging target for the wing shooter.

I tried dove hunting some in my youth and on a few occasions succeeded in bagging my limit. Mom would roll the breast in flour and bake them on a cookie sheet, serving the tasty little morsels up for dinner. Needless to say a dozen little breast didn’t go far with our family of hungry farmers.

Today I’m well satisfied to shoot them with my Canon and allow them to fly on.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Ubiquitous Mockingbird

A daily sight at my home is this Mockingbird sitting high up in our crabapple tree.

Mockingbirds are among my favorite birds; not for their bright plumage but rather for their song. I love listening to them sing on summer evenings. Mockingbirds are the only birds I know of that will sing all day and continue on throughout the night. This is one habit of theirs that my wife could do without!

I don’t know if it has tried any of the fruit but this is its favorite place to sit while watching over its kingdom. I have not observed any birds attempting to eat the crabapples but now that freezing weather is upon us some of the fruit is dropping and attracting deer into our lawn. This morning as I left before dawn a small herd of deer spooked from under the tree. Amazingly, they spooked at me while our beagle, Sparky, slept soundly in his house not twenty feet from them.

I believe Sparky has an understanding with the wildlife; don’t bother me and I’ll not bother you :)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Profile of a Jacklighter

Jacklighters come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and occupations however the majority of jacklighters I have encountered in over two decades of conservation work fit within the following profile.

Age - Early twenties to mid thirties
Sex - Male
Occupation - Construction/ Industrial Laborer

Motivation - To kill something!
Target - Any Deer

Common Denominator - ALCOHOL!!!

In all the night shooting cases that I was involved with in my time with the PGC only once did I have a case where alcohol was not present! Alcohol lubricates business and it also steels the nerve of the jacklighter.

Jacklighters seldom work alone, usually two or more individuals are involved in the violation as one of these escapades requires that many task be accomplished. Driving, shinning the light, looking for deer, and shooting; not to mention watching out for the Game Warden! Although the shooters are typically male it is not unusual for a woman to be present. Typically it is a girl friend and it is not at all unusual for his wife to be sitting at home not knowing what her husband is up to. Typically the group will number two to three but I have encountered as many as six participants in a singe case.

Jacklighters are a wary group and are usually on guard for anything out of place. At the least sign of trouble they will typically flee at the highest rate of speed they can muster, frequently tossing the weapon out the window the first time the following officers headlights looses contact with their vehicle. The typical rifle used is a cheap Marlin .22 Magnum with a cheap scope. This makes for a disposable weapon whose cost is much less than the cost of the fines if caught.

As I stated earlier any deer is the typical target and to that most kill does and fawns. The methods of retrieval vary as some will immediately drive into the field and load while others will flee the area and return later when things have quieted down. Others kill for killings sake and could care less about the dead or injured deer they leave behind.

Over the years we often heard hunters complaining about the spotlighters killing all of the big bucks. There is no doubt that a few poachers do exclusively target large bucks however they are a select group and usually are the most experienced and illusive of all the night poachers. A few of this group hunts for antlers only and will quickly decapitate a buck and flee the area leaving the headless carcass for the vultures to find the next day.

The above photograph was taken during a nightcase a few years ago. Three individuals spent New Years Eve on a deadly shooting spree. As was usual they were using a Marlin .22 magnum and had killed two fawns by the time one of my fellow officers apprehended them. A local resident had reported their activity and had given headquarters a very good description of the vehicle. Even with the rifle, spotlight, and two dead deer the suspects tried very hard to convince us that the deer had been taken legally in Maryland. As the hour was quite late and rigor had not yet stiffened the deer’s bodies, we were not about to be easily convinced.

Sadly not all cases end this way, usually the poachers get away………..

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Up Up and Away

I captured this image as the geese gained altitude to cross the mountains rimming the lake and disappearing into the pink tinged morning sky.

I wonder what in our environment has changed to cause some geese to become non-migratory. Could it be as Abe stated the increase in wet lands created by new building laws or could it be the geese are much smarter than we people give them credit?

Could it be that a lazy goose decided not to migrate, found how good life was without the long flight and then told his high flying friend about it when they returned from the tundra. Liking what they heard a few more decide to try this new lazy lifestyle. As the years passed the lazy geese’s numbers grew until they now outnumber the high flyers.

Well I certainly don’t have the answer to this one and I don’t think we can blame it on global warming. If GW was the cause of the geese changing their nesting grounds then reason would indicate that they would nest further north not south. I like the lazy goose theory. The resident geese are a much large bird than the migratory. Just take a look at our own species; athletes are usually much lighter than sedentary folks. For now, until someone proves me wrong; I’ll just stick with my fat lazy goose
theory :)

What do you think?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Winging It

This morning gave me the opportunity to once again greet the dawn. Hoping for a brilliant colorful sunrise as the weather forecast called for storm tonight; I was disappointed when the eastern sky took on only a tinge of pink. As a back-up I headed to a nearby lake in time to watch the Canada Geese leaving.

This shot was only a small portion of the flock numbering in the hundreds as they lifted off.

In my youth Canada Geese did not live in our area and were only seen during their spring and fall migrations. Today a flourishing resident population provides watching and photographic opportunities year around.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Barred Owl, 300th Post

One of my favorite photographs from the past fall’s wildlife shooting is this shot of a Barred Owl. This was one of the many shots I captured while following this owl around Big Meadow in the Shenandoah National Park. If you missed my first post where I tell the story of this adventure, click the label “Owl” at the bottom of this post.

With this post I am celebrating my 300th post. My photography and equipment has changed quite a bit since beginning this endeavor. When I began posting I was shooting a relatively new Canon S2 IS which actually was my third digital camera.

My first digital was a little HP fixed focus, fixed lens point & shoot that ran the batteries down quickly. It used two AA rechargeable batteries with a run time never exceeding five minutes. This camera was a Christmas gift from my in-laws in 2003. The HP taught me that digital was the direction I needed to go and soon I upgraded to a Canon A85, 4mp with a 3X optical zoom. Soon after acquiring it my niece Amy (ASH) showed up with a neat little camera, the Canon S1 IS. With its 10X optical zoom it was quite an impressive tool. Shortly after the Canon S2 was introduced I took the plunge and few months later began blogging.

This past August after spending a some time behind Willard’s Canon 10D mounted on his 500mm lens I recognized that for me to continue the digital passion I had no choice but to upgrade to a DSLR. Soon a Canon 30D along with a 24mm-105mm F4L IS arrived from B&H and with it I began exploring the world anew. With a Canon 100-400 borrowed from Willard I entered this fall carrying a tool kit capable of capturing good wildlife shots; thus Country Captures has changed for a time from being a rural scenery blog to more wildlife oriented. Where will it go from here? I cannot say as I rarely plan a post until the minute I sit down in front of the monitor.

Thanks to all who have kept me company on this journey and encouraged me on with your kind comments along the way. It has been fun!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Jacklighting, Tools of the Trade

For those unfamiliar with the term, Jacklighting is the act of unlawfully shining a light on an animal in an attempt to kill it. While spotlighting (the act of shining a light on wildlife) is legal in Pennsylvania within certain hours; the possession of weapons capable of killing game is not, with few exceptions.

As a young Deputy Conservation Officer I was assigned to work under a District Officer who had came to the conclusion that jacklighting was to be our major focus. He reasoned that jacklighting; while very prevalent at the time was a socially unacceptable violation and one we could do something about. At the time we were a force of nearly a dozen officers with a county of four hundred square miles. By concentrating our efforts in a particular area on any given night we were able to increase our odds of apprehending jacklighters significantly. The following is a short story about one of the more unusual apprehensions from those early years.

Thanksgiving had just passed and our rural county was experiencing its annual population increase as hunters arrived. As some hunters cannot wait until the season; we officers were working patrols all throughout the nights. On this particular night a fellow officer noticed a vehicle spotlighting after hours along a secluded forestry road that follows a mountain top for many miles. As he could watch the vehicle’s progress from his vantage point some ten miles away; we decided that I would attempt to get into position for the stop. I knew it was a long shot as I had many miles to cover so I felt no need to hurry.

Time flew by as I traveled the country roads and some forty five minutes had elapsed by the time he informed me that I was getting near. The suspect’s vehicle had been moving south the entire time and as I had entered the south end of the road a head on encounter was about to ensue. As I needed to observe the spotlight coming from the vehicle prior to the stop, I pulled over and shut down.

In a few moments I could see their vehicle slowly approaching as they shined the spotlight into every nook and cranny in their attempt to locate deer. I can imagine their surprise when their night took a turn for the worse as I activated the red lights.

Soon the incident was under control, they looked on in astonishment as I removed the loaded rifle that had been between the two occupants, along with their spotlight. They had felt secure in this remote area while they went about their deadly task. Little did they realize that what appeared to them to be heavy forest along the road was only a thin screen of trees that allowed an officer, miles away, to follow their every move as they searched for a buck.

Neither could they have imagined that I had traveled twenty two miles, much of it over back country roads, to be in position to apprehend them.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Red Fox Sparrow

As I didn’t couldn’t identify what sparrow I was looking at I turned to the Audubon bird guide and found it most closely matched the description of the Fox Sparrow. More through investigation turned up that there are four recognized subspecies with the Red being the one most common in this area.

The Fox Sparrow’s breeding grounds are in northern Canada with Pennsylvania being a part of its winter range.

Although I have seen this sparrow or some of its kin around our feeding area numerous times it has been quite an illusive bird. Most of the time it is busy scratching in the underbrush and seldom has it lit in a position where taking its photograph was possible.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Pennsylvania Elk Photography

With Willard focusing on the issues surrounding the Pennsylvania Elk I decided to post this photo I captured during my trip to the Pennsylvania elk range this past September.

This is one of the “wild” bulls being followed and photographed by a prominent Pennsylvania elk guide. This gentleman guides both photographers and hunters.
Some make much of this being a fair chase hunt and not a “High Fence (canned)” hunt, but with the degree of acclimation I have observed in this herd their can be little or no noticeable difference.

This photograph illustrates the tolerance the Pa. Elk have for humans.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Brothers in Action

I used my little Canon S2, tripod and selftimer to capture this image of Willard and myself during yesterday morning’s wildlife shoot. Many of the images I have posted over the last few weeks have been captured from this vantage point.

Saturday was the last day of the regular Pa. deer season. Our countryside can now return to peace and quiet.

On a sad note, around mid day a barrage was fired from the hunting club next door. Some time later a small fawn came by our position dangling a nearly amputated rear leg. The best we could tell it had been hit about six inches above the hoof and only a small strip of skin or sinew kept it attached. The pitiful creature was trying to keep up with its mother but was having difficulty doing so with its severed limb dangling uselessly.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

He’s a Little Piggy!

“He’s a little piggy” my wife exclaimed when she first saw this image

This Blue Jay packed his beak full of corn kernels before flying up to a comfortable branch were he could break them apart one at a time. This was the first blue jay I have seen using this energy saving tactic.

I have taken classes at work that focus on eliminating non value added work. If this little fellow were to attend he would pass with “Flying Colors”

Friday, December 07, 2007

White-Throated Sparrow

A sparrow is a sparrow is a sparrow, until you get up close and personal. Suddenly one begins to notice the nuances in color and markings that differentiate the different species.

Prior to my renewed interest in photography I seldom looked closely at song birds. I basically recognized two sparrows, English or House Sparrows and Song sparrows. It was into the song sparrow category that I lumped all of the other sparrows.

Perhaps it was a memory problem; that I could not remember all of the important distinguishing marks until I had the opportunity to look it up. With digital photography I can now “take my bird home” and research it at my convenience. Now I find that not only am I enjoying digital photography for photography’s sake but I am finding nature much more interesting than ever before.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Deer Hunting, a Dark Side

Willard mentioned in his previous comment that I should post about a story that appeared in Pennsylvania Game News, November 2006 entitled Mike’s Backyard Bruiser.

The following is a much abbreviated version of the story. Early on in the article we are introduced to Mike as a “life long Pennsylvania gentleman and a fine role model of what a sportsman should be”. Also it is stated that “he harbors a deep love and respect for both the animals he pursues and the environment they inhabit”. The story takes place in Mike’s backyard in southeastern Pa where he has a tree stand.

About 8:00 a.m. Mike shot an arrow into a large buck’s rib cage. The buck moved away about 50 yards and lay down. During the day Mike attempted a number of times to approach the deer close enough for a finishing shot but the buck would move off a little each time only to lay down again. At one point he did attempt a shot only to miss and the buck walked away into some brush and again lay down. Upon returning the next morning he found the deer dead where he had left it the preceding evening.

To be entirely fair to the hunter, once the deer was injured he had no legal way of finishing the job other than with a bow as archery gear was the only allowable weapon during this season.

The part that really gripes me about this article is the last paragraph.

“The trophy now hangs over Mike’s mantle – a vivid reminder of one awesome day spent interactively immersed in God’s creation and a culmination of many wonderful years spent afield in pursuit of the big one”.

Speaking as a hunter, to be involved in a situation such as described in this article would be a Nightmare to me!

I was not born with the code of ethics that I hunt by nor was I taught it by any one particular person; rather it has developed over four decades of hunting and living closely with wildlife. I have killed deer; I do not know how many as I have not kept count. Not only have I killed while hunting but my work in conservation required mercy killing many times over the years.

To me there is no joy in bringing suffering to any creature. I accept death; for in death there is life. Anyone who enjoys a steak, hamburger, pork chop or even a hotdog must accept that an animal was required to die to provide that meal. I see little difference in harvesting a wild animal for food than killing a domestic animal reared by humans for that purpose. In reality the wild animal in many cases actually lived a better life being free up to the time of being harvested. The duty of the hunter is to accomplish his goal as quickly and painlessly as possible and not take joy in any suffering they happen to inflict when things go wrong.

The above photo is of two young bucks sparring, not of a pitched battle. After a good tussle the two “boys” made up by licking

Ps. Abe, I promise to digress from the hunting issues in my next post and return to unspoiled wildlife and rural photos.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Deer Hunting; Making the Shot

As I review my buck photographs from this autumn this photo stands out.

This capture is typical of the view a deer hunter hopes to see. Very seldom does the hunter get a completely unobstructed view and usually the deer will not stand around for long. To be successful the hunter must stay alert and be ready to react quickly at a moments notice. The ethical hunter will be prepared to do the job safely, legally, and humanely.

A hunter must be efficient in the use of his/her weapon. Nothing will replace practice. Firing a weapon repeatedly from a bench rest; while excellent for sighting in a rifle is not practical practice. Practice must involve shooting from the various positions one can expect in the field. Often overlooked; learning ones limitations cannot be stressed too much. Shooting at living targets is no time to learn that one is not up to the task!

My goal is to deliver one well placed shot that kills the animal either instantly or within a few seconds. Many years ago while visiting with an old friend on deer stand he made a statement that all hunters should consider. Billie said “I shoot deer on my terms, not theirs”. By this he meant that he would not take a shot that he was not totally confident of.

As a conservation officer I witnessed many times “hunters” blasting away at deer they had little hope of ever hitting. Gut shots, blown off legs, blasted jaws, etc were frequently the results of their efforts. More often than not after firing they would not even take the time to search for wounded animals, content that none had dropped on the spot.

These actions by the uncaring have always left me sickened

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Buck Rub

In this shot I captured a dandy buck making a “Buck Rub”

Whitetail bucks rub trees with their antlers for different reasons. As I am not a deer I will not pretend to fully understand their motivation.

In late summer and early autumn bucks will rub trees as the velvet sheds from their antlers. As the rut approaches, the intensity of the rubbing increases with bucks doing mock battle with small trees. During this time the buck’s neck will thicken significantly as he builds strength for the battles to come. Most battles however are avoided, being settled by displays of dominance instead.

The buck in this photo is doing precisely this. Moments before I took this photo he had successfully stared down an opponent and followed up the encounter with the attack on this tree as the other buck slowly moved off watching his every move.

It is good for the deer that pitched battles are not that common for their headgear makes for a formidable weapon. Sometimes they will lock antlers; being unable to separate, a slow death will follow. Other times and I believe far more common a buck will be speared by his opponent’s antlers and this too can result in death.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Frosty Deer

I have taken notice of many comments on blogs referring to pitying wildlife for having to stay outside during cold weather.

This photograph was taken of a deer on a frosty 20 deg. F morning. The frost forming on this deer’s coat attests to its awesome insulation. The deer’s winter hair is hollow, providing it with a coat of “hollow fill” insulation. The skin muscles allow the deer to move the hair; lay it down when warm or fluff up when cold to effectively give it a much thicker coat. Interestingly enough their summer coat is made up of solid hair, a cool coat for warm weather.

Thank you all for the comments on my last post. I must apologize for writing it while I was still quite angry over the events of the preceding day. Since posting I have spoken with our neighbor who was not home at the time of the incident. He has assured me that the offender was shown the property boundaries and advised against trespassing. In parting he also assured me that he is revoking this individual’s privilege to hunt his property. I hope this is all that is required for we shall not allow another incident pass without legal action.

There are many issues surrounding wildlife and wildlife management and as I have promised I will be airing some of my views and experiences here. The problems we face with illegal and unethical hunters invariably can be traced back to greed or simply the lust to kill.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Lip Curling and the Past Two Weeks

I have had the distinct pleasure of being away from work for the past two weeks. During this time I have spent most mornings and evenings pursuing wildlife. The time was very productive and I will be posting these images for quite some time to come.

Rutting Whitetail Deer have always fascinated me. During the rut bucks that otherwise are primarily nocturnal begin moving freely in daylight checking scrapes and following does in estrus. This in turn gives the Whitetail Photographer the opportunity he has been waiting for. This image depicts a nice young buck exhibiting the lip-curling or flehmen response as he checks for a doe in estrus.

The window of opportunity for photographing rutting bucks in our area was quite short this year with the rut beginning two weeks late. This in turn allowed only a few days action before the rifle hunting season opened, totally disrupting the deer’s normal patterns. With the opening of the hunting season my attention shifted to birds and watching for road-hunters and unwelcome trespassers.

Deer season has been relatively quiet although yesterday we had an incident on our family farm where a hunting guest of a neighbor thought it his “God Given Right” to shoot onto our property and kill a young fawn and then go and retrieve it with out asking permission. Perhaps this individual has a learning disability and cannot comprehend that no trespassing means to stay the “H…” OUT and that includes his unwelcome bullets!

As a footnote we had a problem with the neighbor (his first year living here) last year when he shot an illegal buck on our property, drove his atv in and retrieved it and our District Conservation Officer, allowed it all to pass with only a warning. The Pennsylvania Game and Wildlife Code provides charges for trespass while hunting as long as another game code violation is present. In this case I believe this officer is so opposed to personal property rights that he allowed an illegal deer kill to go uncharged just to avoid pressing trespass charges. He assured me that this individual had “received his message”, now it is quite apparent that was not the case!