It's a 150- mile drive from southcentral Pennsylvania to Big Meadows in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia so Billie Cromwell and I were headed down 522 to Winchester, Virginia at 3:00 in the morning on Monday, August 11th. From there it's a straight shot to New Market Virginia and one can chalk the miles up quickly. From New Market, one takes Rt. 211 across Massanutten Mountain to Page Valley and past the town of Luray, which is world famous for its' beautiful caverns. One ascends another mountain through Thornton Gap and may get on Skyline Drive there. At that point one is slightly over 20 miles from Big Meadows, which is the whitetail deer hot spot in the park.
Whitetail deer prefer the early morning hours, shortly before and after sunrise, and the late evenings. I always try to be there as it is breaking day, but it was disappointing on this trip and at first the trip seemed a failure. We did find a buck by the roadside at dawn, but it was too early for the best photography.
We finally found a beautiful nine-point in the woods by the side of the drive. The light levels were low in the shaded woods, so I pressed the 300mm F4 into service.
From that point the situation improved and when we got back to the meadow two bucks were feeding by the roadside. I only posted the largest today. This has been the most commonly seen buck at Big Meadows for the last three years. He evidently has learned the lesson that many do not, and that is to stay on park land during the hunting seasons as private property is quite near in many spots. No hunting is allowed in the park, but if the animals stray they may be taken. In addition there is some poaching in the park. Whatever the reason I have seen several nice bucks for a year or two and then they vanish, but it seems there are a few that are seen year after year. This one has a good start and I hope that he will be a long term survivor.