My old friend, Rick Patridge, sells land and hunting properties. One day he calls me and asked if I would be interested in going with him to a place he was listing, to take some pictures. He told me about the huge deer on this property and that we would be able to stick around and photograph them from one of the many blinds on the property. That made the decision easy, I was in! If I remember correctly, the land was one mile square. Huge. The owners practiced Quality Deer Management, only harvesting certain monster bucks and keeping the herd strong on the land. The place was incredible. Giant house, barns, ponds and monster deer. After we took the pictures for the sale of the land, we headed off in a golf cart to a deer blind. The owner told us the deer usually come out about 5pm and we should expect to see some big racks. Well, 5:00 came and went and nothing. I figured it was just another of those places where "you should have been here yesterday". Finally, about 5:45pm out pops our first buck, a monster spike horn! We looked at each other and laughed. Our laughter was short lived as shortly after, as if out of nowhere, antlers started to appear in the woods. It was definitely worth the wait. The obsession was born.
The above pictures are all from that late August day in 2011. If I remember correctly, that piece if property was going for something like 3 to 5 MILLION dollars. No idea if it ever sold. Anyone want to pool up some cash????
Fast forward to 2014 and hip replacement surgery. Going stir crazy from just being home and going to rehab. Camera sitting, collecting dust. Needed to break out and do SOMETHING. I started looking at maps and contacting a few people. I got really lucky to find yet another old DuPont employee that set me up with a place that had deer and no hunting pressure. The first time I walked it, I think I saw a couple of Doe and that was about it. It had a lot of edges, diverse habitat, a creek and small pond. Promising, but I didn't see a buck. It would have been easy to just move on and look elsewhere, but something made me go back. Could have been the lack of fear from the deer I did see or just that it was really a nice area. Safe to say, I haven't stopped going back.
Going out and getting pictures is way easier than writing, I can tell you that. Today I want to just share what 2020 has been like in the "deer" woods. Please excuse all the pictures you are about to see, I know it's a lot - it really is an obsession. Even when I try to stay away, I go back. Yes, many of the deer are the same, but it's just enough different each trip me wanting more. Watching them change throughout the seasons is very interesting to me. Being able to just sit still and watch, reality tv in it's purest form. Just going to start in the Spring and move forward to last weekend. Hope you enjoy.
Something to keep in mind as you look at the pictures - I shoot with a 500mm lens, at times with 1.4x multiplier. If I'm using a camera with a crop sensor, that makes it something like a 700mm to 800mm lens. Crop the picture in post and you have what appears to be some very close shots. They are, in fact, at a good distance in most cases.