Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Deer Photography and Herd Reduction Update

Full Moon At Dawn- August 21st: Panasonic  GH3-Canon 500mm F4 IS-ISO 400-1/160sec. f ?
 It seems that everyone was posting full moon photos recently, so above is my version of the moon, which I captured as I was waiting by the edge of a large expanse of crop fields for enough light to film whitetail deer on the morning of August 21st .

Since the whitetail photography at Shenandoah National Park has been ruined because most  bucks in the Big Meadows area are wearing huge numbered  collars due to the deer study, I have had to do most of my deer photography close to home this summer.  One can see some decent bucks, but they are usually at very long range and are quite shy.  It is possible to see a buck on occasion that compares favorably with the large mature bucks at SNP, but it is rare and then there is a big difference between seeing them and being able to successfully photograph them. Most regular readers of this blog are aware that I usually concentrate on video with the Pennsylvania bucks because of the ability of certain video cameras to film them at very long range.  I do sometimes try some stills with my current favorite long range video rig, which is the Panasonic GH3 and the Canon 500mm F4 IS.  The Panasonic is not as good of a still camera as the Canon 5D MK III, but this is outweighed for long range shooting by the 2X crop factor of the GH3's micro four thirds sensor (M4/3), which gives the 500mm a 35mm equivalent focal length of 1000mm.  In addition the photo below is severely cropped and it is doubtful that it would print well at 8x12 or 8x10, but it is good for smaller sizes and for internet posting.

 Long Range Pennsylvania Bucks  (250 yards):Panasonic  GH3-Canon 500mm F4 IS-ISO 200-1/25sec. f ?
At this time it is not clear if there will ever be world class whitetail photography at SNP again as the specter of herd reduction looms on the horizon.  Herd reduction has already taken place at Gettysburg and Valley Forge Military Parks in Pennsylvania and is now planned for Antietam, Manassas, and Monocacy Battlefields in Maryland.

Whitetails Viewed As Problem By National Park Service: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 70-200mm IS II-ISO 1600-1/250 sec. f 3.2
 Here are some good links for further reading about this.

 First is a post by Larry W. Brown on Flickr with a photo featuring some superb Photoshop work by Jim Fields, What's Next Shenandoah? Birds?  Before anyone gets too excited Larry and Jim are not really complaining about the birds in Shenandoah National Park, they are just using this mechanism to point out the absurdity of the NPS proposals for whitetail deer management.

Next is a post by Steve Ferendo on his Natural World"Through My Camera" blog, "Mature Whitetail Bucks Should Not Be Shot Just To Reduce Herd Numbers"  The post features photos of mature bucks on the Monocacy Battlefield.  Mr Ferendo is concerned that these bucks will be shot as well as the does in the looming herd reduction.

Last is a link to an article on Herald, "Sharpshooters eyed to thin deer at Antietam National Battlefield",which gives a brief description of the herd reduction planned for these battlefields. 

It certainly isn't a good time to be a serious whitetail deer photographer.  Until now the National Parks were the one place that  anyone could go to observe and photograph mature whitetail bucks, but with the ascendency of the population reduction faction in the NPS it s very possible that these days area over.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.