A whitetail deer's ears are extremely perceptive.
So good is their hearing that they have the practical equivalent of eyes in the back of their heads.
The buck in the foreground, with ears turned back and raised high, is essentially "watching" the buck in the background while looking the other direction.
The buck in the background is using his ears for another purpose, to communicate threat.
While his ears are also turned back, the big difference is that they are laid low.
The threatening laid-back-and-low ear position is not unique among deer and should serve as a warning to wildlife photographers if the warning is being directed toward them.
Buck in rut frequently use this communication technique with other deer.
Another communication strategy deer and other animals use is the raising of their hair.
In a moment, a buck can go from having a sleek, normal-appearing coat to appearing huge and fuzzy with every hair (thousands per square inch) standing straight out (imagine what humans could look like if we possessed that skill).
Always be looking for that something extra in your images and when photographing wildlife, communication is one such extra that can take an image to the next level.
Another extra illustrated in this image is the incoming buck's raised front leg.
This shows action.
This scenario pictured here unfolded quickly and capturing the action was the first priority.
The image that showed the best juxtaposition of the two bucks was not as well-balanced in the frame as I wished, cutting off some of the trees on the right side.
Fortunately, another image in the sequence included more of the right side of the scene and stitching the two images together allowed the full set of trees to be included, creating a natural frame.
There is still room to join me this fall for the "Whitetail Buck in Rut and Much More", Shenandoah National Park Instructional Photo Tour
Stay for the entire time and I'll pick you up at/near the Dulles International Airport.
Sun, November 10 to Wed, November 13, 2019 and/or Wed, November 13 - Sat, November 16, 2019
to sign up!
Photographers at all skill levels are also invited to join me for these tours:
"Whitetail Fawns and Much More", Shenandoah National Park
Sun, June 9 to Wed, June 12, 2019 and/or Wed, June 12 - Sat, June 15, 2019
Fall Landscape in Acadia National Park Instructional Photography Tour
Tue, Oct 15 through Sun, Oct 20, 2019
"Bull Elk in Rut and Much More", Rocky Mountain National Park
1 opening: Sun, September 15 to Sat, September 21, 2019
Filled: Sun, September 22 to Sat, September 28, 2019
Wait List or Sign Up for 2020.
to sign up!
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr