Monday, July 30, 2012

Whitetail Deer in Mid-Summer

Doe and Twin Fawns, Ponca Mill Pond 7/29
For some reason this year there seem to be many more deer around. Everyone seems to agree on this point. It is also true whitetails are more visible around the Buffalo National River. This is most likely due to the drought -- the river might be about the only place there is much water these days. Many farm ponds are now dry.

I see whitetail deer in Boxley Valley nearly every visit, but this year there must be 5 times as many deer visible.

There are two whitetail compositions I look for in July and August. First, I like to get pictures of bucks in velvet. Second, I like to take pictures of does and fawns.

If at all possible, I like to get both in and around water. I am really fond of reflection shots. One very good spot to catch whitetails in the river is the Ponca Access just outside of Ponca past the HWY 74 intersection off HWY 43. I like to sit on the low water bridge in the very early morning and wait for deer. Crossings and deer drinking are quite common now. There is a game trail that crosses the river just upstream from the low water bridge.

Ponds are also a good bet. Pay attention to ponds when you drive by. The picture of twin fawns with the reflection above was spotted while driving by. I backed up and turned around twice to get this photo from a few different angles. The deer did not spook because I stayed in my car and used it as a blind.

Taken at the Ponca Access
Time of day. Just about any time is good for whitetail deer, but the ends of the day are best for photography and the deer move more then.

This strategy will work anywhere on the Buffalo National River. Get up early, post yourself near a pool downwind from the animals and animal trails, and wait. Generally you will not be disappointed. If they cannot smell you, and you remain still, deer will often walk up pretty close to you.

White Winged Crow, Ponca Access
If you get on a good game trail, you might get an elk crossing or even a turkey crossing. Other river wildlife could show up. You do have to be patient. Any day on the river is a great day, even if the animals do not cooperate. I am writing this at 5AM and planning to hit the river again today. You never know what you will get, and just like fishing you might get skunked, but hours spent in the wild are never disappointing.

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