January 24, 2002
This morning I slipped over the crest of a hill, and there they were, right were I had expected them.
At the bottom of the hill are some dense spruce trees. When it snows very little snow actually makes it down to the ground, the spruce branches act like umbrellas, sheltering the ground. The deer love to make use of these spruce yards because it means less energy that they have to expend plowing through the snow.
I had noticed a couple days ago that there were a lot of deer beds in the narrow space under these trees. So this morning I circled around and approached with the wind in my face, so the deer would not be able to scent me before I was within sight. Deer have fantastic sense of smell and are able to scent people from an extraordinary distance if the wind is in their favor.
As soon as my head topped the hill I could see two deer by the spruce. I slowly sank down so that I was hidden by the rise of the hill. I put my large lens on the tripod, attached the camera, and slowly rose back up. I got several photos, but unfortunately when I moved a little the crust on the ice made me sound like a mouse in a corn flake box.
It didn't take much to alert the deer and they trotted off about 60 yards into the nearby woods before turning around to see if I was really a threat or not. What surprised me is that there were three other deer there that I hadn't seen at all until they all moved into the woods. It never ceases to amaze me how well deer can hide, even when you are looking right in their direction.
I moved off another way to leave them be, and they went about the serious business of bedding down. And the next time we meet they'll undoubtably teach me another lesson.