Early morning light casts a golden glow over the marsh as I pull into the nearly empty parking lot at Reeve’s Boat Ramp in Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge. My eyes scan the landscape, searching for signs of movement. There – across the water, a lone Whitetail Doe forages along the shoreline.

Whitetail Doe Across From Reeves Boat Ramp

Whitetail Doe Across From Reeves Boat Ramp

I’ve photographed does here before, but not this summer. The devastating floods back in May likely drove many deer to higher ground. This doe must have returned when the waters receded.

Careful not to startle her, I position my truck so I can photograph through the open window. I already have my camera mounted on a beanbag rest. Looking through the viewfinder, I frame the doe in the morning light and begin clicking away.

The distance allows me to photograph her natural behaviors. Ears twitch and turn at every sound. Her tail flicks away insects. Completely in her element, yet wary of potential threats. I feel privileged to observe her in this moment.

As the sun climbs higher, the doe moves farther down the shoreline until she eventually disappears into the brush. I pack up my gear, take one last look across the marsh, and head back out onto the road. Though brief, glimpses like these are the reason I love photographing wildlife. Each encounter deepens my appreciation for these wild spaces and their inhabitants.

Camera Settings

  • AV Mode
  • Aperture: f5.6
  • ISO: 2500
  • Shutter speed: 1/280 of a second
  • Focal Length: 400 mm

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