White-tailed Deer are one of my favorite creatures to photograph. This photo essay highlights some photos I made from mid-summer through November 2018. Beginning in late summer with the growing fawns and the quickly forming antlers on the males, this story will end with my observations during the annual mating season, known as the rut.
In August, this year's fawns still possess their spots but there are signs of their maturation into adulthood.
Late summer offers some photographic opportunities near soy bean fields. Deer love to munch on soy bean plants and if you plant it, they will come. I sat in a blind one September evening and observed this 6-point exit the woods on his way to the fields.
This fawn stepped out of the woods line with caution.
I saw quite a few bucks at this location but this one had the biggest rack.
Darkness was coming quickly when I packed up for the evening. On my way back to my vehicle, I found this spike that was more daring than the other deer that already fled when they saw me.
In October, I begin to look for bucks in pursuit of females in heat. During the mating period, known as the rut, the males seem to be oblivious of me and my camera as they are only paying attention to the doe.
Here is one of the larger racks I found this year.
If I find a buck that doesn't run, I begin to look around for the reason. She is usually found nearby.
The next four photos were made along a ridge. I was part way down one side and they walked up from the other.
These next two bucks were in pursuit of a doe. I'm glad they paused in a clearing long enough for a photo.
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After seeing this buck in a weedy field, it became apparent that he didn't want to leave. After a few minutes, I noticed a doe laying down in the thick cluster in the left side of the photo. The buck kept looking over his shoulder for competition.
Here is a nice 8-point with a broken tine.
During the rut, male deer sniff the air for the scent of a doe in estrus. When they sniff the air, they lift their head up and their upper lip curls upward. This is known as a lip curl. I've photographed a few lip curls over the years. Some are better than others. The buck in the next photo is doing a lip curl but it isn't one of the most noticeable I've photographed.
If I'm driving around back roads and find a lone doe, I usually stop and watch for a while because there my be a buck nearby. I found this doe feeding in a field so I pulled over and watched. I sat about 15 minutes watching this doe walk and eat. Finally, the buck I was hoping to see ascended from the thick woods. As the doe walked, I think it got a little too far away from the woods for his comfort.
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Here is another photo of the 8-point with a broken tine. You can see where it broke on the left side of his rack.
I got a call from a friend one evening alerting me of a nice 10-point with a doe. I quickly met up with him to see this guy.
His doe was still bedded down from her afternoon rest period.
This buck provided some nice photo opportunities.
I found this buck as darkness set in. I'm glad he stood still long enough for a sharp image because my shutter speed was slow.
The next two photos are a doe with a buck in pursuit of her affection.
The size of a male's rack might have an influence on a does decision making when it comes to selecting a mate. This buck's determination made up for the size of his rack as he wasn't giving up on this doe. It grew darker and I left while he was still hanging around.
The following photos are other deer I found.
This group of doe was feeding along the top of a ridge while the sun was setting.
I'll wrap up this photo essay with one more buck. I never saw the doe but he didn't mind me being there so she had to be in the thick brambles somewhere.
He gave me one last look before heading down the hill and out of sight.
I hope you enjoyed the White-tailed Deer photos I shared.
Thanks for looking,