My youngest daughter and I just started reading the Little House series together.  Last night, as we worked our way through Little House in the Big Woods, we learned how much time and effort it took for Pa to reload his rifle.  The story reiterated how important it was for Pa to kill a wild animal in the Big Woods with the first shot, because otherwise, a critter like a mountain lion or a bear would attack and kill Pa.  After my wee one was tucked away in bed, I thought about how important it is for me to also “shoot” animals correctly the first time, too, or else the moment is gone.

Here’s a great example…

Last week, the older girls and I were walking at the Overland Park Arboretum.  As we trotted through the woods, chatting away, I suddenly paused in my tracks and whispered for them to be quiet and still.  Beyond some brush in the woods, out in a meadow lit up by the rising sun, stood a pair of fawns checking us out.  Like Pa pulling his loaded rifle from his back, I tugged my camera to my eye and removed the lens cap as swiftly as I could without startling the animals.

While this is my best deer shot yet, I’m disappointed that the photo didn’t turn out as well as the gorgeous deer shots I see at Colleen Gunderson’s site (like this or like this) or at Randy Roberts’ site (like this or like this), especially given the proximity I had to this particular deer and his willingness to stop and stare at me for a while.

What do you think?  Do you have any tips or tricks to share when it comes to shooting wildlife (with a camera, of course)?

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Join the conversation! 12 Comments

  1. It’s that darned autofocus making the decision not you. Autofocus is great but it can get a little mixed up sometimes. I’m not sure what camera you have but depending, you may be able to set your autofocus to a single point giving you much more control over what the camera focuses on. Point the single focus point at the deer and the camera cottons on a little quicker. 🙂

  2. Ahhh, I loved the Little House series when I was little, and can’t wait to read it with my little one. This scene makes me think, too, that it would be good for Pa to do it one shot (if he has to do it at all…) so that the animal doesn’t suffer. But anyway I struggle with wildlife shots, too, and like Chillbrook’s suggestion. I’ll check out the examples of the shots you’ve offered links to. I like your own image: there is something very sweet about the silhouette.

    • Thanks for your comment, Lemony. Life in the Big Woods (or on the prairie) was way harder than we have it today. It’s fun to read the stories with the kids so they have a sense of history and can appreciate the convenient life they enjoy today.

  3. I love this shot, just as it is. To me it really captures the moment you were in: a chance encounter, a surprise…for you and the fawn. I love to use focus/light/silhouettes to communicate a mood rather than a documentary feel, on certain images. Thank-you so much for the mention of my deer images. The most important tip I could ever give is to shoot in manual/RAW. I keep my lens cap off in the field. As you spend more time in the area where your subjects are; you’ll become more and more familiar with their behavior/patterns and that helps so much when photographing them. But all that said I must say again – love your shot here – just as it is !! 🙂 My 11-yr-old is a huge fan of the Little House series, and also the related books – good stuff!

    • Colleen, these are all great tips that I will take to heart and begin using immediately. Thanks so much for visiting my site and sharing your wisdom!

      P.S. It’s fun reading the Little House series again after an eight year break. (My “Bigs” are all a bit older than my youngest.) I also like sharing the sense of history with them and helping them appreciate the conveniences they enjoy in the 21st Century. 🙂

      • You are so welcome – we learn together 🙂 As for the kiddos – my children are 25, 19 and 11, so I know what you mean!

  4. I agree with Colleen. There’s nothing wrong with this photo and she offers very good advice. Take the lens cap off, shoot in RAW (I have mine set to RAW/JPEG) and if you’re wanting to shoot wildlife, you should have the autofocus set to single point. You’ll be able to shoot through the brush then. Good luck and have fun.

  5. I like that shot, it’s sort of there but it’s not, if you know what I mean.

    • Thanks, Rigmover. I’m still a bit bummed that the focus was on the foreground and not the fawn, but I’ve received so many great tips from this post already and am really looking forward to giving them a try!

  6. You know I actually li8ke that the deer is out of focus. It makes it different than other deer-photos, and the animal more mysterious.

  7. Wow what a cool story! I love how you told it all 🙂 I don’t have any experience in wild life photographing, lol, but I think this one is really interesting. I like that it’s different than most and how it isn’t focused on the animal, in my book, you did a great job 😀


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About Sage Scott

Shutterbug Sage began as a 365 photo project.


Animals, Nature, Photography


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