Diary of a Madman or the trials and tribulations of a wildlife Photographer.

20th June 2009
I wanted to write this down because at times Wildlife Photography can be a solitary existence, and the experiences we have we can feel that no-one else has the same experience.

This story logs my attempt to photograph Roe Deer. See if it sounds familiar!

10th March (First Contact)

Behind our house we have a field, then a small stream, then a larger field and finally the mighty river Trent. To the front of the house we have a major road, the A1. This makes us quite closed off and it was surprising, while walking the dog, see three Roe deer in the field behind us. On seeing the dog the deer were soon across the stream and into a small wood.

This became the pattern over the next few weeks, but the deer would never be in the same place at the same time. And, invariably when I did see them I had the dog with me. Conversely, when I went out specifically to look for them with the camera there was no sign. I was beginning to think that I was the unluckiest photographer in the world.

12th April (First Image Attempt)

While coming back with the dog I noticed two of the Roe deer in the field behind the house. The grass in here was being grown for silage and stood about 18 inches high. I nipped back to the house, jumped into some camo clothing and headed back out with the camera. I approached from down wind of the deer which where still in the field. After almost braking my neck trying to climb stealthily over a metal five bar gate I preceded to crawl towards the deer. The advantage of this approach was that I was under cover. The disadvantage was that I had to lift up out of cover to see where the deer had moved too. As always seems to happen to me I lifted up after crawling about 200 yards to be greeted by the Roe deer looking directly at me. After one blurry shot they where gone into the cover of the wood, I returned home wet and cold with nothing to show for it.

13th April to June 14th

Over this period there where various botched attempts where I was outfoxed by the Deer. There where many more days where the deer where always there when I didn’t have the camera, had the dog or I just couldn’t get out because I had to go to work. I was beginning to think that the only way to get the pictures would be to use a hide and stay their all night and be their when the deer showed up when it got light.

The problem with this was that the deer where sometimes behind the house, but they could be over a mile away. Sometimes they would be in the same field for a couple of days but then disappear for a while. Because I don’t do this full time I can’t dedicate a week or two for this approach. I am sure this is a problem most of us face an is a constant frustration when you have a full time job to go to.

17th June to 19th June

During this three day period I would take the dog out for her walk at 6.15am, and climbing over the gate into the field was faced with a male Roe Deer. He would bound off to a safe distance, and surprisingly, even with the dog to heal would not disappear over the stream but watch from a safe distance. As I walked round the edge of the field he would manoeuvre himself around us at a safe distance. As always he was out of camera range.

20th June (a lesson in Perseverance)

I had decided that because of the last three days I would get up at 5.30 am and as it was a Saturday I could sneak into the field and hopefully, finally get some pictures. I was in full camo gear, and I had worked out a silent approach route which would keep my scent away from the deer. Everything went to plan and I got into a covered position where I could observe the whole field, and sure enough, no deer! I truly was the unluckiest photographer in the world. I decided to sit and observe for half an hour more in hope than any thought that the deer would turn up. And sure enough, nothing.

I headed off home totally dejected. The dog was waiting for me as normal and threatened to awaken the whole house. I got changed and headed back out where I had just come from this time with an over excited dog in tow. I approached the field and could see my neighbours two horses staring at a male Roe deer who was about 150 yards away. Well there was no turning back so I took the dog for her walk, this was shortened because I just couldn’t leave it alone, I had to have another go!

Back home I went, changed again, got the camera out again and walked passed the field. I climbed over the gate and I now had a hedge between me and the deer with the wind in my face. Never the less I could see the deer looking at me and new I could not approach. I walked away to the far end of the field and then turned and made my approach from the other side of the field. Amazingly I had managed to get into cover amongst the hedge. The deer had moved about three hundred yards away and to rub insult into injury it was browsing on the hedge that borders our back garden. I cursed silently, I could have got pictures from my own back door!

I wasn’t going to give up and walk off this time. I knew the Deer could walk across the field at any time and disappear over the stream. Over the next 30 minutes he tempted me by coming a little closer and then moving away. I was convinced he didn’t know I was there, I just needed a bit of luck.

Finally he moved over to the horses again, and as the adrenalin began to pump, he approached my position. In fact he was too close for a time. I began to take some shots, he could hear the shutter on the camera. The shots weren’t the best either but better than anything else I’d got. He finally became aware of my presence and bolted across the stream. In the past I may have packed up and headed off at this point, however, I had seen him move off before and then turn as if not quite sure what he had run from. Sure enough, he obviously felt safe across the stream and stood in a lovely position for me to take about 20 images before heading off into the wood.

I headed home grinning from ear to ear. After a mainly disappointing few months when I felt like nothing was going right and that this could only happen to me, my perseverance had paid off. See the pictures in the recent images gallery. Maybe not the best you’ve ever seen, but to me they represent a real point that we should all strive to follow. Never Give Up!

Leave a comment

Your Name
Your Email
Your Comment
No info required here, please press the button below.