Wild Wednesday … Have You Herd?

The deer that live around the mill always converge on the hayfield behind the log deck in the fall and winter. This year I’ve counted as many as twenty at a time. I’ve accumulated some photos over the last few months. Typically, I’m not very close so the pictures are a little soft. They just went through the rut and the bucks will soon shed their antlers. Click on a picture to enlarge the gallery.

Black Tail In Velvet

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A Spring black tail buck with horns still in velvet in pen and ink.

This is always busy time of year around here, which is the reason I haven’t posted for awhile. When Fall comes, we disappear into the mountains. It’s our time to put some miles under our boots, over the mountains and through the woods.  This is when we go out to procure some fresh organic protein to get us through the year.

I photographed this buck last Spring.  He was feeding under a blue oak tree. His antlers were still growing and in velvet.

Coyotes Attack! Oh, nevermind.

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The deer herd feeding in the hay field.

Something caught my attention, while cruising around the North end of the log decks.  Lots of animals were running in the hay field.  The mill property has a couple hundred acres of hay fields  and ponds on the North end of the log yard.  Each afternoon a large herd of deer comes into the fields to graze.  This morning, they were already in the field and running all over the place.  This is odd behavior for the deer because they weren’t leaving.  They usually wander randomly around the field feeding.  If anyone gets too close they just leave the field for the cover of the nearby Valley Oaks.  This time they were running helter skelter around the field, but not leaving.  I was about a quarter mile away and could not discern what was going on.  I pulled out my camera and zoomed in on the action.  Then I saw the three coyotes.  This is what happened next.

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Enjoying the sunny morning, the deer placidly graze.  They seem unconcerned  about anything going on around them.

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Moving in on the deer herd, this coyote was intent on having venison for breafast.

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The coyotes non-chalantly move closer and closer to the herd.

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The big buck spots the sneaky coyotes.

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Two does and the big buck aren’t going to tolerate the coyotes stalking the herd.

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This brave doe takes the lead in dealing with the interlopers.

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The two does surround the lead coyote. The coyote was not expecting this.

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The second coyote decides not to stick around. No loyalty amoung coyotes.

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The coyote is having second thoughts and a venison meal.

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Deciding it isn’t worth it the coyotes back off.

Coyote, hunting, stalking, prey

No venison today for this coyote.

Coyote, hunting, stalking, prey

Perhaps a nice field mouse would be good instead.

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With the threat dealt with, the herd goes back to a leisurely breakfast.

Sunrise Curtain

Mary and I always rise before the sun.  It is the time of day that we solve all the world’s problems, over a cup of coffee.  This morning old Tom dog asked to go out.  When I opened the front door, God poked me right in the eyes with a spectacular sunrise.  As the sunrise curtain was lifted, our morning guests were revealed.
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The sun serves us glorious notice of it’s pending arrival.
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The trees are ablaze.

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A mysterious visitor sneaks by at sunrise.
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A male Common Golden-eye visits our pond.

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Our constant guest the American Coot.

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A pair or Ring Neck ducks have take up residence.
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The morning rendezvous.
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Striking a pose.

Behind The Scenes

Ever wonder what is going on behind the scenes with other blogs?  This is a little snippet in the life of The Backdoor Artist.  If you are a follower of my blog, you probably already know that I am married to The Backdoor Artist, Mary Livingston.

The Backdoor Artist, Mary Livingston, Artist, Photographer

Mary in the creative process.

Mary has a front row seat to our backyard with a large window facing out from her work space.  It is a wonderful view.  A view which often provides for visual treats.  Yesterday she spotted a large buck across the pond.  She posted this adventure complete with beautiful pictures here at, http://thebackdoorartist.com/2012/12/11/animal-attraction/.

Spotting this big old buck prompted frantic camera grabbing and stealthful sneaking out into the yard to photograph the buck.  When he didn’t run away, we plotted to stalk our subject for more and better shots.  More frantic activity ensued with changing of clothes and getting shoes on.  We came around the garage and started approaching our prey, all the while, keeping the trees in between to hide our approach.  Next, we used the dam of our pond for cover and climbed to the higher ground.  Once, on top of the dam we had to stay low to stay out of sight.

Stalking, buck, photography, photos,

Mary belly crawls for the money shot. The buck is on the hillside on the left side of this picture.

Mary crawled to the edge of the dam to have a clear shot of the buck with her Nikon D200.  I hung back a recorded the moment.  I Let her go first. Wasn’t I considerate.  She was kind enough to soak up the water in the grass, leaving me a little less wet.  We laid there together shooting pictures of the big buck for quite some time.

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Patience and opportunity pay off. The big fellow started to leave, but he could still smell the doe.

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Maybe he’ll stay.

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What a handsome fellow!

We continued taking pictures together until they left.  We would have stayed in the wet grass for as long as the deer were willing to stay.  At a moment like this, I didn’t even notice the cold and wet.  It was one of those great times with my best friend.  We headed back to the house soaking wet and with Mary’s light colored pants looking more like camouflage.  All well worth it.

Buck, doe, deer, wildlife, photography

Off they go over the hill.

The old buck trotted off with the doe over the hill.  I’m with you brother.

I had a lot of fun with Mary when she shot these fantastic pictures!

Sneaking Bliss

As I sat down to paint this morning, movement in the field on the other side of the pond caught my attention.  The distance, about 250 yards, from the window was a bit far for a nice shot. Tim and I quietly slipped around the south side of the dam, then  belly crawled to get within 100 yards. This nice black-tailed buck in rut was watching a doe by one of the lower ponds.

We must have been a sight, laying on our bellies, in the rain soaked grass, stalking the deer for a photo. The buck did not notice us at all. He was captivated by her scent.  She was nervous, people crawling through the grass and taking aim her way was more than she could stand. She bolted up the hill and over the ridge with him in hot pursuit.

Gotta sneak bliss when you can, even when…

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Welcome Guests

Doe having a little breakfast.

Yesterday morning as I was heading out for work I stopped off to start up a pump.  This doe was munching on some breakfast at the pump.  Nearby two buck startled and decided to leave.

Away they go.

These two big bucks saw me and decided it was time to move on.
Up over the hill.

Away they go.

There was one more buck and he was happy to have his picture taken.

Still has some velvet.

The money shot.

Handsome fella.