Encountering a Massive White-tailed Buck With Dark Antlers

On November 13th, I had an exciting wildlife photography opportunity at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. As I was driving along the auto tour road, I spotted a young White-tailed Buck walking ahead of me. I slowly followed behind, hoping to photograph him if he stopped. But after a short distance, he darted into the woods. Just then, a larger Buck emerged from the trees and began walking along the road’s edge. He only went a few feet before circling back into the woods.

White-tailed Buck With Dark Antlers
White-tailed Buck With Large Dark Antlers

I drove further down the road, predicting the big Buck would cross again. I parked and set up my camera on a beanbag out the truck’s open window. Sure enough, he emerged from the woods and crossed right in front of me! I got some great photographs of this impressive Buck and his dark antlers.

A White-tailed Buck’s antler color is influenced by several factors, including genetics, age, behavior, and environment. Genetics play a big role, with some strains having naturally lighter or darker antlers. Older, dominant Bucks also tend to have darker antlers from rubbing on trees. And the types of trees they rub on, like pine sap, can stain antlers over time. Additionally, antler color fades over seasons due to moisture and sunlight bleaching. So genetics, age, behavior, and habitat all contribute to the variations in antler darkness among White-tailed Bucks like the one I photographed.

It was rewarding when my plan to intercept the Buck’s path paid off. I’m thrilled to have captured such a majestic White-tailed Buck in his natural habitat. The opportunity to observe and photograph these incredible wild animals is the best part of being a wildlife photographer.

Image Information:

  • Date: 11/13/23
  • Time: 09:08 AM
  • Camera: Canon EOS R7
  • Lens: Canon RF 100-500 mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM
  • ISO: 5000
  • Aperture: 7.1
  • Shutter: 1/800
  • Exp. Comp.: 0
  • Lens (mm): 500
  • Program Mode: Manual

Here is a Buck that I photographed last week: Close Encounter: Photographing a Rutting Buck

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