Saturday, November 20, 2010

Photos From The Whitetail Rut

This blog has been entirely devoted to issues concerning the Pennsylvania elk herd during the month of November, but today we take a break from Pennsylvania elk to post photos of some of the bucks I photographed during the whitetail rut.

In our area, the rut begins in late October, intensifies in early November, peaks around November 12th, and then declines until it is brought to an abrupt end by the rifle deer season in late November. Whitetail deer have not been nearly as easy to see this autumn, either at home or at Shenandoah National Park due to a bumper crop of acorns.  As a result they are not frequenting the meadows as much as usual, but spend more time in the woodlands.  Also, here at home we have been plagued by a large group of youths and young adults that have embarked on a thrill killing spree, driving about at night with spotlights and firing at deer.  In several instances we have found deer shot and left to rot.  To date Pennsylvania Game Commission Officers have not been able to bring them to justice in spite of an  intensive effort to do so.

My best encounters with whitetail bucks this autumn have been in Shenandoah National Park.  The first photo is of the largest buck I photographed this fall. Since I am an incurable video addict, I actually began this encounter by filming the animal with my Canon 7D and 500mmF4 lens as he walked through the woodlands.  When he paused I pushed the shutter release and managed to capture one still image before he ran.  I prefer to film wildlife with the Canon XL-H1, but find myself using the 7D more and more as one has the option of taking high quality stills, which cannot be done with the XL-H1 (The H1 can take acceptable stills if one is content with less than stellar quality and a small print size).

Shenandoah 9 Point
The next encounter occurred in Big Meadows when a beautiful buck pursued a doe across the meadow and into the area around the visitor center.  My brother Coy and I have photographed this particular animal since the autumn of 2007 and it was good to get to photograph him again this year.

Another SNP 9 Point

Coy and I photographed a beautiful 10 point near Big Meadows Campground, and late in the morning of November 6th.  I heard several other photographers talk about seeing him on subsequent trips, but I did not see him again.

10 Point At Big Meadows Campground
This animal had a doe lying near by. When a small buck approached he stood up and confronted him, but lay down again as soon as the threat was over.  The early to mid-stage of the rut is characterized by the bucks frantically chasing does as most of the does are not yet ready to stand for them.  They are highly visible at this time, but hard to photograph as they can cover ground so quickly.  Once the does become receptive to them it is common to find them spending a lot of time either lying down or standing for long periods.  It is at this time that mating is likely to occur and the animals are more easily photographed.

For more Camera Critters photographs, Click Here!


Lady Fi said...

Wow - fabulous shots! That first one makes my heart sing!

Ruth Hiebert said...

WOW,look at that neck.This is an impressive animal,as are the others.

Anonymous said...

All three photographs are wonderful. I enjoyed reading, too, your description of what you saw before, during and after you took the pictures.

Kritter Keeper at Farm Tails said...

i love this post...of course since i am crazy about my deer. their faces show more age than my three year old 'boys' and their necks are massive compared to mine as well. it is so interesting to compare. the antlers are thicker too. i saw bossy boy sitting the other day but then a young yearling was chasing this morning. i believe all of mine rutted early this year. the yearlings all left around the beginning of october. i see the three year olds sporadically now. peanut was bred in march being just a 7 month old herself (she had 'autumn boy' in late august)so i think that is strange. i can tell bandit is the father. gun season begins here monday. i am sick over it...someone killed a deer three weeks ago and did not quit shooting when i screamed at was scary and i could here the 'zinging' of the bullet. just last weekend i found the evidence. disgusting. thank you for the great pics and describing which camera you use willard! be safe! happy thanksgiving!

eileeninmd said...

Wonderful shots of the deer. Big Meadows is one of my favorite places in Shenandoah NP.

Unknown said...

Nice shots! Looks like good action still going on!


Peggy said...

You found some GREAT bucks! Love that first shot with the lighting, but really love them all, as they each have unique characteristics!