I’m not really a big one for photographing captive animals but I guess the odd little visit every now and then does no harm, as long as no-one is under any illusion that the subjects in question are not wild. I had recently managed to encourage my girlfriend into picking up my spare camera body and start shooting wildlife herself with my 400mm lens. As most of our trips out together involve taking in some new species or other, set in a wild countryside location, what better way to spend quality time together?
So as I was saying I had actively encouraged her to get involved and take some shots of her own when we are out and about, in my opinion it was a massive show of commitment to her and our relationship on my part, I mean I don’t let just anyone use my camera gear, most of the time I feel like ‘Gollum in the Lord of the Rings’ guarding my ‘precious’ collection with my life. The thought of having a kidney removed seems more appealing than having my lenses dropped on the ground. So to hand them over for someone else to use, I thought was quite trusting and a very grown up move although I’m sure she would disagree.
With a week away imminent, I wanted to find her something she could practice photographing which looked wild and wasn’t too hard to find, didn’t run away and gave me the chance of a few shots too. So I racked my brains for the time of year, what could we find that wouldn’t cost a fortune and give us some results. Petworth Park crossed my mind, a location not too far away housing an ancient deer park, just over the border in West Sussex a place I remember driving past lots as a kid to visit relatives down in Horsham but one I never recall visiting. The first week in October seemed to be unseasonably warm, so I was a little unsure whether or not a trip to a Deer Park would be worth it. The Reds only seem to kick in with the rut when the weather changes a little colder, so with a warm 12-15 degrees I knew it might be a risky tactic. But then again I have virtually no photographs of Fallow Deer which Petworth hosts a huge population of, so I thought buggar it why not, even if they were captive.
We arrived by 10am and soon spotted several large herds of Fallow. Large bucks with massive antlers grunting in the morning sunshine. Occasionally leaving the cool shade of the Oak trees to see off another interloping male. Females, youngsters and prickets all passed us by within meters of the pathways. The long grass giving a great natural look to the scene and the photographs.
With so many Deer close at hand and not at all bothered by the hordes of people out for a Sunday stroll, the Fallow at Petworth made great subjects for an excited enthusiast keen to take some photographs and for my girlfriend ha ha. We even managed to witness some of the big boys having a too do, nothing massively kicked off but there was plenty of grunting and a bit of chasing. I even came away with some shots I was happy with.
Although not a lot of Deer actively engaged in battle, we both managed some nice shots and enjoyed a trip out which definitely meant that we weren’t getting ‘In a rut’.
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