With a forward head tilt and relaxed ears, this bedded whitetail buck looks cute and cuddly, presenting an image perhaps ready for a child's storybook.
But, make no mistake, this is a huge ball of muscle ready to violently fight anything it thinks poses a threat to its interests (that right-side G4 tine required significant force to break off).
This buck knows exactly what the doe bedded nearby behind it is doing and if another buck moves in or the doe moves away, this big bad boy will be up in a flash.
Very positive was that this bedded buck provided a wide range of poses for us, including head rested solidly on the ground, a large yawn, and ears perked in attention.
I'm not often a fan of a downward camera angle when photographing wildlife and in this case, getting down to the buck's eye level using a fully-retracted monopod made complete sense.
This low/level angle provides a more distant background that can be strongly blurred with a 600mm f/4 lens, allowing the subject to clearly stand out against an even very distracting background.
With the subject being stationary, the distance and alignment could be selected and varied.
In this case, the leaves on the ground provide a solid base for the image.
The large tree trunk on the left and the small tree trunk on the right provide a frame for the subject.
Wildlife photography is a great source of stories and this situation brought back a memory from the year before.
I was in Shenandoah National Park photographing a different bedded buck from a reasonable distance when it suddenly bolted straight toward me.
I jumped behind a tree just as it went past a short distance away.
Fortunately, it was not racing after me but instead after a doe.
I just happened to be in its path.
The shot of adrenaline took a little time to wear off, but the memory is a fun one.
Want to photograph these awesome animals and create some stories this fall?
Sign up for the "Whitetail Buck in Rut and Much More", Shenandoah National Park
instructional photo tour.
Sun, November 10 to Wed, November 13, 2019 and/or Wed, November 13 - Sat, November 16, 2019
to sign up!
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr