Late October brings us many things here in western Pennsylvania. Our evenings, and some days, are showing us a hint of the season that is just around the corner, the colorful landscape we enjoyed for the last month has disappeared except for the orange-brown oak trees that are the last to turn, and the rut of the White-tailed Deer begins.
I spend a lot of time in September photographing the rut of the American Elk but, in recent years, I haven't spent much time photographing White-tailed Deer. I think accessibility is a major factor in that decision. This year, I wanted to make a real effort to photograph our White-tailed Deer and hopefully some rut activity.
What is the rut? In short, The "Rut" refers to the time period each fall when deer breeding occurs. Each fall? That's a span of three months. When exactly is the rut? From 2000 to 2007 the PA Game Commission did a study on springtime road killed does to find out when they were bred. 6,000 does were examined and nine out of ten of them were bred in mid-October to mid-December. When asked when the rut occurs in Pennsylvania, the answer is mid-November.
This photo blog is the beginning of what I hope will be two or three more documenting the rut. The following photos were all made in late October and contains a mixture of deer from big bucks to little bucks to does and this year's fawns. Deer are most active in early morning and evening. Therefore, most of these images were made during the last hour or so before sunset requiring higher camera iso settings and ultimately resulting in slower shutter speeds. Because of that, I used the Canon 5D Mark III most of the time. The other camera I carried was a Canon 7D Mark II. I hope you enjoy.
Here is a little four point wary of who is behind him. Of course, it's me, so he's safe!
I cannot pass up the opportunity to photograph a portrait of a beautiful doe.
Typically, only bucks more than one year old get antlers. I believe this is a first year male. I guess you can't really call those bumps antlers, can you? White-tailed Deer
This six point had his eye on something more interesting than me. I wish he would have looked at me. Those antlers look like they almost touch in the middle.
I think the big ones are big because they've experienced, and avoided, danger. The eight point in the photo below was hiding in the trees. I see a lot of opportunities to get this type of photo and I usually take them and then delete them. This one was a keeper because you can see both eyes.
Occasionally, a big buck like the one in the next photo will pause in the open forest for a minute or two. Notice the thickness of his neck. A buck's neck can swell 50% during the rut. It is believed to be caused by an increased level of testosterone. Aggressive behavior is also a byproduct of the increased testosterone.
It's hard to tell why this buck only has one antler. The animal could have broken one side off, has a genetic mutation, or it could even be from an injury when younger. I think he believes he's protected by the branches between us.
This doe was on high alert and sniffing the air as I watched her. She is a larger, older doe so I was watching her feed in a meadow in hopes that a buck would pursue her.
This ten point was being very cautious after spotting me.
Although he is not displaying an upright white tail, he wasn't going to stick around to find out what I was doing.
This little beauty was feeding on acorns when I found her. I couldn't resist this portrait.
Although the highlight of deer watching in the fall is to find a big buck with a lot of points. To a wildlife photographer, like me, who simply loves nature and wildlife, I'm happy with a beautiful background and a cooperative animal. I found this doe walking a ridge above a valley.
Next year he'll be a little bigger.
I found the ten point in the next two photos on the trail of a hot doe. As long as she didn't flee, neither did he. He gave me some wonderful images but I'm still lacking the desirable lip curl images.
Deer will stomp their feet when they believe danger is in the area. They do it to warn other deer of trouble or to warn the intruder and try to get "the intruder" to move. It is believed that a stomp puts a warning scent on the ground for other deer.
I hoped you enjoyed the White-tailed Deer images in this photo blog. Check back soon for more as the rut continues into November.
Thanks for looking,