Earlier this evening, as I was working on something in the backyard, I heard some rustling not far off and noticed a trio (at least) of young white-tailed deer foraging just beyond the fenceline, which put them no more than 12 meters from me. I drew out the smutphone and attempted to call The Girlfriend, who I believed was inside the house somewhere, but this failed because she was actually coming up behind me. The deer were aware of our presence and a little wary, but not scared off. This occurred at dusk, and the number of trees behind the property effectively rendered this twilight even though the sun barely peeked through in random patches, and as one of the deer paused in one such patch, I went inside to get the camera and long lens. Naturally enough, it did not remain in the better light long enough for me to take advantage of this.
A tripod was out of the question – just trying to set it up would at best have taken too long, but might also have scared the deer off, between the various metallic noises and the sight of the extending silvery legs. So I was shooting handheld at long focal lengths in twilight under a canopy of trees, a distinct recipe for blurry pics, and that’s primarily what I got. Boosting the ISO to 1600 helped a little, as did bracing against the fence when I could, but nothing that I got was worthy of publication (except here, of course.)
One of the deer started heading back the way they’d come, which meant towards a busy road, and The Girlfriend ducked around the house to try and head it off discreetly. Meanwhile, I stood in the middle of the backyard and tried for decent pics. The result was interesting.
With the imminent arrival of a new shed, I had removed two portions of the fence along the back of the property line, which meant it was wide open to the deer, and the one that had started towards the road was essentially standing in the opening, and aware of me – had I not been there, I have no doubt that it would have come into the backyard. But it was also intent on heading back towards the road, and this drew it ever closer to The Girlfriend, who was taking her cue from things that I’d said in the past and not staring at the deer, but glancing around casually while remaining unobtrusive. The result was the deer walking up to within five or six meters of her, which was slightly frustrating to me because I wasn’t carrying a lens that could get both in the frame to demonstrate this. It was starting to look like she was about to hand-feed a new friend. Naturally, I’ve been calling her ‘Snow White’ since this.
The first image at top was a buck, as can be determined by the stubby little horns – obviously, we’re talking pretty young here, and none of them were fully adult. The Girlfriend’s pet was a doe, seen here looking curiously at the source of the shutter sounds for a moment before resuming its stalking. Eventually, The Girlfriend waved her arms a little to spook off the deer, since it didn’t seem inclined to stop approaching the road despite her presence, and it (with some reluctance) hastened to join its departing siblings. I had thought that was the end of it, and resumed making noise in the back yard, but about 45 minutes later while I was grilling burgers on the deck, I realized that not only had they returned, one of them had entered the backyard and was foraging near the little pond – not quite as close as it had been to The Girlfriend, but then again I wasn’t standing silently by any stretch.
If this is going to become a habit (the fence seen at this link is the same section that is presently removed,) I may have to stake out the backyard more often, with the tripod and some supplemental lights, and see what I might capture when prepared. And I will note that all of these images here are full-frame as captured, not cropped at all, though I will admit to tweaking away the bluish twilight colors.