Monday, October 28, 2013

The Leaves Change Color As The Whitetail Rut Begins

Many Pennsylvania nature photographers have commented that fall colors have not been as spectacular this year as usual and I have found that to be true here in the south-central portion of the state as well.  With that being said I did capture a decent fall scene last Thursday.  Wanting to travel light, I carried only the Panasonic GH3 and tripod with the 14-140mm Lumix lens mounted.  I also carried the 100-300mm Lumix in case I encountered wildlife.

Fall Colors: Panasonic GH3-Lumix 14-140mm@17mm- ISO 200-1/100sec. f 11.0
It seems that the GH3 does quite well as a still camera at the lower ISO settings and it is very easy to carry, but with that being said I still like to use the Canons for most of my still photography.

I have seen quite a bit of wildlife as well in the past few weeks.  One of the most memorable occasions was when I was watching a distant flock of gobblers in a portion of a meadow that was dry enough for the farmer to mow this summer. Since the fall rains it is now a wetlands and  some of the gobblers were drinking from the pools of water among the grass. The image is severely cropped to give a more dramatic composition.

Gobbler Drinking: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 600mm f 4.0-ISO 400-1/250sec. f 8.0
The whitetail deer rut was early last year and I had seen a lot of bucks chasing does by the middle of October, but things have really been slow this year and there has been little signs of the rut until lately.  I have noticed that in the last few days the young bucks that are still traveling with the family groups are showing rutting behavior.  It is amusing to watch these little fellows acting aggressive.

Yearling Buck Performs lip-curl: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 600mm f 4.0-ISO 400-1/320sec. f  4.5
On October 25th I saw the first buck chasing a doe.  I did film the chasing with the Panasonic, but the stills I got with the 5D MK III and the 600mm were only portrait shots.  This was a buck I had not seen before and is either a larger than usual (for this area) yearling or is a small 2 year old.

6 Point Buck Pauses From Chasing Doe: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 600mm f 4.0-ISO 3200-1/200sec. f  4.0
The light level was low enough that it was good to have the MK III's excellent high ISO capability.  I was hidden behind a hay bale, but the buck still caught the movement as I switched from the video camera to the still camera. He soon lost interest in me and began chasing the doe again.

6 Point Buck: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 600mm f 4.0-ISO 3200-1/160sec. f  4.0

He evidently got the leaves in his right antler from horning the ground, which is something I would liked to have seen and recorded.

I enjoy photographing almost any species I can find, but I have been fascinated with the whitetail deer since a young age and they are my favorite species to film and photograph.  Each year I especially look forward to filming the excitement of the fall rut when bucks that are ordinarily shy and hard to see are suddenly everywhere running about after the does.  It will be interesting to see what buck sightings the next few weeks bring.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.