A Morning with White-Tailed Deer

Portrait of White-tailed deer

Do you have those mornings in wildlife photography where the woods are silent and you wonder if you are ever going to see anything? A squirrel? A bird? Something?! This morning started like that. As my husband and I walked through the tree-lined trails, everything was silent. No movement whatsoever. Just the crunch of our feet.

Then a wintry mix started pelting us with tiny ice balls. Fun! I figured we would just call it a nice walk in the woods and head home. I was already thinking of the warm van seats and a hot cup of tea! But suddenly five white tails scattered to our right and dashed ahead of us. Then to our left was a mama deer and her little one who we have been watching for the last couple months. Seven white-tailed deer! In seconds, the morning totally flipped. For the next hour, we maneuvered trails and watched the seven from behind tree trunks and brush. I spent time finding openings in the woods to clearly capture their snow-covered ears, big black eyes, and elegant faces.  

Eventually I sat down on the trail, parallel to two young ones. The rest of the group had wandered off down the hill, and they decided to lie down and snuggle in next to a tree trunk. As they waited, we watched these two beautiful faces just 25 yards away, licking the ice pellets off their coats, munching on leaves, and relaxing. Eventually mama deer came back and gave them a strong head nod and a stomp to stand up and follow. Even though we were plenty of distance from her, she gave us a stare and stomp, too. We remained still for a few more minutes and then took it as our signal to quietly move on.

Photographing wildlife continues to teach me lessons. Today was a good reminder that time out in the field can switch in an instant; I must be patient. It reminded me to keep putting in the days and weeks and months. To keep getting up early in the morning. To continue practicing.  

No matter how many days go by that I don’t photograph anything, the ones where I finally do provide enough fuel to keep me trying. When you look at a sweet young face like that, how can you not?


Jen Ritchie

I'm a nature photographer who loves capturing beautiful landscapes and wildlife from our yearly trips out West and parks here closer to home.

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