Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Photographing Park Whitetails

Making good wildlife photographs is challenging but it certainly helps to have acclimated subjects to work with.  Its one thing to take a snapshot of a deer but to make a good photograph is an entirely different matter.  Having acclimated animals for subjects allows one to move their shooting position to take advantage of lighting angles and backgrounds.  These images were captured in Shenandoah National Park where the whitetails are accustomed to being around hordes of tourist throughout most of the year.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Common Feeder Birds

Since Pa. firearms deer season opened I have been spending more time focused on the bird feeders.  At present there are only a few species coming to the feeders but that will change when snow covers the ground.  Blue jays can always be counted on to show up at the feeders regardless of weather although getting them close-up can be a chore.

Northern Cardinals with their brilliant red color makes me think of Christmas although they are resident birds and will visit the feeders throughout the year.  The strong beak of the cardinal makes short work of sunflower seeds; cracking them easily to get at the starchy kernel.

The Tufted Titmouse, another year around resident, will never pass up a free meal.  These little birds acclimated very easily.  Spend some time set up at the feeders and soon they will be feeding within just a few feet of the camera lens.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pa Deer Season Opens

As daylight seeps across Pennsylvania the firearms deer season will open.  Thousands of hunters will take to the woods in hopes of bagging a deer and while they are waiting for a deer to appear there will be other wildlife to entertain during their wait.

Birds such as this Tufted-titmouse will be flitting around in search food

The deer will be on heightened alert and ready to burst into flight at the least sign of danger

And by evening many hunters will have the story of "the big one that got away"!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tender Moments

A whitetail mother appears to give her young son a big smooch.

And this doe appears to be whispering sweet nothings into her daughters ear.

Both photos taken while the whitetails were grooming

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Double-takes: Fawn Siblings

 Fawns are frequently left alone by their mothers during the rut.  The bond between the siblings is strong and becomes more obvious with mother temporarily out of the picture.  This pair of fawns was browsing along a brushy stream bank when they caught sight of me.  Their pose was more than I could have hoped for

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Turkeys for Thanksgiving

While photographing a flock of wild turkeys early one recent frosty morning I was surprised when suddenly the alarm call was sounded and the entire flock sprang into the air. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thoughts on Scents

I was busy photographing this young rutting buck when a stray gust of wind carried my scent directly to him.  Immediately he burst into flight; as did the dove trying to escape his pounding hooves.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Woodland Whitetails: Firearms Season Nears

Pennsylvania's firearms deer season will open in less than a week.  It has been an incredible season photographing the whitetail rut both in Pennsylvania and SNP Virginia but, as with all good things it must end and here in Pa with the season opener my buck photography will end literally with a bang.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

An Hour in a Buck's Life: Part 2

Approaching the upper end of the meadow I spotted a large buck watching the buck I was following

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Fog can obscure subjects, particularly for the wildlife photographer, but it can also be used to the photographer's advantage. 

This shot was made quite early today with a light rain falling as Willard and I watched a meadow hoping for rutting whitetails to appear.  Hunting whitetails is always somewhat of a mystery.  Will I see any deer?  If so, how many?  Will any be bucks?  If so, how big?  Will I get the shot?   For me, this image of a mountain meadow shrouded in fog captures the mystery of the hunt.

Without the fog this scene captured earlier in the fall would not have gotten a second glance.  However with the suns rays illuminating the wisp of lingering fog an otherwise everyday scene in Pennsylvania's elk country becomes an image of beauty.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Huddle

With the rut in the forth quarter It's time to get Serious Boys!

If I were a football fan I would expect that I could draw a cute analogy between these bucks and the game.  However in my youth "game" had a different meaning altogether.  With no TV to distract or entertain I spent my free time roaming the woodlands and streams with gun or rod in hand.

Much has changed since those days but I still don't know a darn thing about ball games and could care less.  I still find the outdoors to be more than sufficient to entertain and awe. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Appreciating Whitetail Beauty

While talking with a young fellow, he asked if I had gotten any good pictures during my time off work.  Responding with a yeah, I clicked the tab that took me to Country Captures and began showing him a few of my latest whitetail shots from the ongoing rut.

As I scrolled through the images he commented that he has hunted deer and enjoys the occasional spotlighting trip to see deer but that he had never realized how beautiful they are.  With that comment I felt that in a small way my photography had made a difference; the images had instilled a little deeper appreciation for the beauty of nature in a young man.
There are many words to describe the beauty of the whitetail but a good photograph conveys the beauty better than any words can ever describe.  A young buck alert for danger, framed by the dark woodland and highlighted by the frosty grass in the foreground conveys the very essence of the whitetail's beauty.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Everyone is Doing the Lip-Curl

No matter the size, no matter the age; in the whitetail buck's world Everyone is doing the Lip-Curl.

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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Fight!

Having just returned home from two days of intensive whitetail rut photography I have only had time to quickly review the images, deleting the worst misses, and beginning the back-ups.  However during the review this image jumped out at me, begging to be processed.

The baleful eye, the bulging muscles, and the narrow shaft of sunlight illuminating just the bucks as they surge together; to my eye it is possibly of the most powerful whitetail image I have ever had the pleasure of capturing.

Actually these bucks were not fighting but rather were engaged in a friendly sparring match.  However friendly sparring can become violent at times but the violent agression and the desire to do physical damage to the opponent is not present during a sparring match.  These bucks would tussle for a few minutes, take a break, and then resume their game.  

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Living the Dream

As the morning began to brighten I greeted another photographer in an SNP parking lot.  When he asked what I was there for I answered with one word; Whitetails.  He grimaced and said that he only had time to shoot the sunrise.  Trying to make the best of the beautiful sunrise developing I located a doe to silhouette against the awesome sky. 

Saturday, November 05, 2011

More Scenes From Monday Morning

The first morning of the elk harvest was extraordinarily beautiful.  Apparently during the chilly night the area had been shrouded in fog leaving everything, including the elk, coated with frost.  The frost and the remnants of autumn foliage created an incredible backdrop for the morning's events to play out against. 

A calf searches frantically for its mother shortly after the bull and first cow were harvested

Friday, November 04, 2011


The lip-curl or flehmen response exposes the vomeronasal organ to scent molecules.  This organ, also called the Jacobson’s organ located in the roof of the mouth is extremely sensitive, allowing bucks to determine a doe’s state of estrus.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Scenes from the Rut

The Whitetail Rut has kicked into high-gear since the unusually early snow and colder temperatures over the weekend.  Normally I would not expect to see rutting activity hit this level until around November eighth in our area.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The First Morning Continued........

Upon approaching the party at the downed bull we learned that two elk had been harvested.  The guide was with two clients; one with a bull tag and the other holding a cow tag.  Both had successfully harvested their animals.