Saturday, August 6, 2011

Shenandoah National Park: A Morning To Remember

On Thursday morning my brother Coy and I traveled to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, in search of whitetail bucks in velvet and any other photogenic wildlife that we might find.  Visit Coy at Country Captures for a detailed description of the events of the morning and to see some of his photographs. Shortly after dawn we found a bachelor group of bucks coming into the meadow from the Tanners Ridge area.  I started by shooting video from the roadside with a Canon T3i and 70-200mm lens, but soon went into the meadow to get a better angle and alternated between this rig and the Canon 7D with the 300mm F2.8.  If I needed a wider shot I put the T3i in manual still mode and used it with the 70-200mm.  In the photo below I shot handheld with this rig and image stabilization engaged to get a photo with several bucks together (the 7D and 300mm F2.8 was on the tripod at the time).

Portion Of Bachelor Group Big Meadows
 Three of the bucks fed quite near to me and I photographed one extensively with the 7D and 300mm F2.8. This buck should have been a ten-point but the brow tine was broken and one of the points on the left beam did not develop beyond a small bump, so he had five points on one side and only three on the other.

Unusual Antler Configuration

At one point a beautiful nine-point  came into range and I pressed the T3i and 70-200mm into service again to get a photograph that included the entire deer. This photo was taken at 200mm and is a vertical crop taken from the center of a horizontal shot as is the photo above.  This is not increasing the size of the deer in the composition, but rather removing the unneeded sides of the photo, although both photos do make decent horizontal ones also.

Shenandoah Nine-Point At Big Meadows
As exciting as photographing the bucks was, it was eclipsed by the arrival of a Coyote which came from the west side of the drive and ran up Skyline Drive toward the camp store and then into the meadow.  We found it near a large herd of deer, which were very skittish and fearful of it.  At first we thought it had killed a fawn, but it turned out that it was feeding on blueberries.  After taking video with the T3i and 500mm F4 lens, I attached the 7D and took several stills.

Coyote Pauses From Eating Blueberries

Coyote Looks Hostile, But He Wasn't Hunting Fawns Today

Coyotes and black bears do make significant inroads in fawn populations, but I think this is more likely to occur in late May and June when the fawns are small.

For more Camera Critters photographs, Click Here!

Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.


Blair Cessna said...

Great post. Another job well done my friend.

Ruth Hiebert said...

Magnificent shots.My husband would have loved the chance to photograph wildlife like this.

SquirrelQueen said...

Great shots!
The coyotes and bears have to make a living too, it's all part of nature.

Stephani Cochran said...

Great captures!

EG CameraGirl said...

The light sure was lovely and you took some gorgeous shots. I'm thinking the gear you carry around with you must be a but cumbersome at times...but I guess you are used to it.

Does your 300mm lens have image stabilization too?

Unknown said...

Number 2&3 are real beauties!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

eileeninmd said...

Great shots and sightings of the bucks and the coyote. I saw two black bears on the Skyline Drive last weekend. Always a thrill to see a bear.

Cheryl said...

Beautiful captures. Love Shenandoah.

Interesting read in the prior post about noise.

Anonymous said...

Great photographs, Willard! I do love the buck photos, but agree that the coyote kind of eclipsed them. He's a beauty! Very nice work!

Tatjana Parkacheva said...

Wonderful post and your photos, too.


Tammy said...

Oh my! That is a morning to remember. Stunning creatures. Beautiful photography.

Unknown said...

You and Coy sure had a great day. The photographs are beautiful. If I had to pick a favorite of this group-I could not as I like them all. Seems the coyotes are continuing to be brazen about being seen!

Seems a trip to Shenandoah before October needs to be in my plans!!!


BrandNewStudio said...


Anonymous said...

I always enjoy looking at your wildlife pictures. The photographs are always incredibly beautiful!