It had been a while since I had spent some quality time in the woods. The last several weeks has found me mostly on or near the shorelines of area lakes, marshes and ponds. So, I figured I had better get out and see what the woods might have to offer this photographer.
On this particular day, there was a cold wind howling out of the west, but the sun was shining beautifully. With these conditions I knew the waterfowl photography would be good later in the day but for now I can ease down into the little valley and get out of the wind.
I had only walked 30 yards into the woods when I spotted the deer, the first group anyway. I was above the valley and still in the wind, the wind helping to disguise my footsteps as I walked on the crunchy leaf carpet of the forest floor. They were casually feeding amongst the jumble of slightly leaning Osage Orange trees. Too far for a good photograph, I decided to just sit and watch as they went about their business.
The deer spooked when I finally made my move. I guess there were maybe 15 in this group. But as they spooked, there was another group several yards from them that had apparently been watching me the whole time, which I had never noticed. Now I had something like 30 or 40 deer bounding away from me. Quite impressive actually!
I moved into the valley thinking that all the excitement was over. My thoughts now had moved to making a plan for the evenings waterfowl shoot. By this time, I had found a log to sit on and listen to the wonderful sounds of the forest. So, while thinking about great flights of wood ducks to capture with camera, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. High up on the hill were six more deer. Had they been a part of the previous scattering or was this a new group moving in from an adjacent field? I will never know for sure, but in either case the deer numbers were adding up quickly.
Moving on and nearing my allotted time to leave the woods I could see tiny heads off in the distance. They were bedded deer, and they, too, had been watching me. They were not bedded long as they quickly rose to their feet. At that time, I waited for the white flags of their tails to signal me that they were out of here. But this group of ten or so was different. They seemed curious. They stepped closer. And as I walked nearer, they held their ground. They allowed me to photograph them. The watchers of the woods!