As a passionate wildlife photographer, I’m constantly in search of those unexpected, magical moments in nature. On the brisk autumn morning of November 10th, I found myself positioned perfectly for just such a special encounter at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oklahoma.
I had arrived before sunrise to scout for the best location near the auto tour road entrance. The crisp pre-dawn air was still and silent as I set up my gear, eagerly awaiting the first warm rays of dawn. To pass the time, I chatted with a fellow nature enthusiast who had pulled up next to me after a week-long archery hunt on the refuge.
As the conversation shifted to my photography, I confessed I hoped to capture bucks chasing does, drawn by the irresistible urge to mate. Right on cue, a doe trotted gracefully onto the gravel road just ahead of us, validating my wish. Moments later, a massive 9-point buck with a stunning rack emerged in pursuit, his eyes laser-focused on his potential mate.
When the buck retreated back into the tree line, I was astonished to see the doe circle back onto the road near my truck. She positioned herself next to my vehicle and began grazing calmly, keeping a watchful eye out for the amorous buck. I couldn’t help but wonder if the Doe used my presence strategically to keep the Buck at bay, allowing her a brief respite for a quick bite.
Cautiously, the buck emerged from the trees, turning his attention back to the doe. As he approached, it became clear he had little concern for my presence in his current state of single-minded passion. It was an extraordinarily rare, intimate look at the natural mating rituals during rutting season. The doe keenly maintained a safe distance from the buck, skillfully ensuring she controlled the encounter to her favor.
I was blown away by how close the buck came, providing ample time to appreciate his impressive rack and document him with my camera. Though I couldn’t fit both deer in a single frame, I was happy to have great video footage and photos of the buck. The experience left me in awe of nature’s wild courtship.
As a photographer, my passion comes from capturing candid moments that reveal the true essence of the natural world. Though technical challenges like lighting often intervene, this unexpectedly beautiful encounter only further ignited my deep love of the wilderness and its endlessly fascinating creatures. It was a majestic dance of two wild souls, reinforcing that photography is as much about patience as it is being positioned perfectly for magic to unfold right before your eyes.
Moments like this remind me that nature will always have mysteries that cannot be contained in a single frame. But that only makes the pursuit more rewarding. I left Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge energized and inspired, eager for whatever unexpected beauty I may witness next time I set out with my camera in hand.
Image Information (Last Image):
- Date: 11/10/23
- Time: 07:57 AM
- Camera: Canon EOS R7
- Lens: EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM
- ISO: 10000
- Aperture: 5.6
- Shutter: 1/320
- Exp. Comp.: +0.3
- Lens (mm): 400
- Program Mode: Manual
Here is a blog post I wrote about photographing during the rut: Photographing the Pre-Rut and Rut at Sequoyah Refuge