February 5, 2002
Cold to the bone
This morning it was really uncomfortable to work outside. It was about 10 degrees F, which is cold, but you can dress for cold. It was the strong wind that really made it tough. The wind just pushed the cold right through my clothes. It chilled me right down to the core of my bones.
By mid morning I was back inside and wrapping my hands around a mug of hot chocolate while sitting in front of the fire. Was the day a wash? Nope, I'd seen deer exactly were I'd expected to find them.
I find that in the wintertime wild animals are much more predictable. Once you've established what their patterns are you are much more likely to be able to see them than in the summer (as long as you can get there first, because they can also see you from much further away).
Right now animals are primarily driven by the need to find food and to have shelter. And the need to find shelter involves not just where they are going to rest, but also where they will find cover that provides them with enough concelment that they feel comfortable to move through. Gone are the distractions of raising young, breeding or exploring new territories. It's pretty much down to the basics during winter in the north.
I've explored the land around here often enough to know during this weather where the deer will travel. I know which strip of pines they will walk through, both to get cover and to get a wind break. And I know what knolls they will be bedding behind to escape from the wind.
During the summer food and cover are everywhere and the deer are not nearly as concentrated as they are now. So is this is an easy time of the year to photograph wildlife? Well the hardest part is getting motivated enough to step out into that bone chilling cold.