Quod oculus meus videt

By GrahamColling

A Little Bit of Fieldcraft

I headed back to the field where I saw the deer yesterday.  I'd done some research on aerial imagery on the 'net and found a path that kept me obscured from view, in the hope I could get nearer to the deer before they spotted my presence.

As I pulled up I could see a small group of deer in the field.  A bit of mist was hanging on the field but other than that the sky was clear.  I headed off in a wide loop of the field, hoping to come upon them from thick woodland and be able to stay undercover to take photographs.  I had to walk through tall grass, still wet from the dew, but finally came to the back of the field, only to find the deer had moved away!  I could see them, but knew that trying to follow them would be a fruitless exercise.

It was then I noticed a group of three young males to my right.  They came from woodland and trotted out onto the field and started to graze.  Ok, only one was exhibiting antlers and he was probably a yearling so they weren't that impressive.  Then I heard more movement.  Something was coming across the small brook that ran at the back of the field.  Then another and another.  I stood stock still, as a female came into view to my right, about 30 metres away.  She broke out into the field, followed by a group of about 8 other deer.

I was now getting some more interesting images, when I noticed their heads turn looking across the field.  From the margin of the field this stag came out into the open.  He was obviously dominant.  The younger males separated from the group and put some distance between them and him.  

And then I stood on a small twig! SNAP! All heads lifted and stared straight in my direction.  Damn, blast, I'd been doing so well.  I stood still, I was wearing a camouflage jacket and was downwind from them.  I hoped they might just ignore the one-off sound.  I should have known better.  These are not like the deer found in some country parks, who have become used to the public.  They are truly wild animals and at the first sign of danger they moved off into the impenetrable thick scrub that surrounds part of this field.  I got the odd 'bum' shot but that was it.

Still, it looks as thought this area is their main foraging location, the rut is coming soon, so I'll be sure to be trying again over the coming months.

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