The Shot I Missed -- Fighting Deer - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

The Shot I Missed -- Fighting Deer

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A buck and doe fighting in the Shenandoah National Park.  Photo by Jose Hernandez A buck and doe fighting in the Shenandoah National Park. Photo by Jose Hernandez
From 100 yards away I knew I had missed the shot of a lifetime. 

We were in the Great Meadow at the Shenandoah National Park.  It was just after sunrise in early June, and the goal was to photograph newly born fawns in the early morning light.  The ultimate goal is to capture that one memorable moment that can’t be defined or anticipated until the second it happens.  You hope that you are looking through the lens when it does. 

I wasn’t.

According to the GPS on my running watch, I had meandered more than a mile along the wild game paths in the meadow with my friend Darrell.  Neither of us had found a doe and fawn to photograph.  But a small group of photographers with big-time equipment had huddled several hundred yards away, and they were staying in the same position.  They had clearly found a subject.

As badly as I wanted to find my own doe and fawn, I figured the only way I was going to get any picture at all was to hike over and join them. 

I continued to scan the field as I approached the group, hoping maybe I would see another opportunity.  There were several adult deer in view, including three in the vicinity of those photographers.  All of a sudden, when I was maybe 100 yards away, two of the adults reared up on their hind legs and started fighting.  I mean, it’s like they were boxing.  I was too far away to attempt a picture, and in reality, it was over before I would have had a chance to raise the camera. 

So I watched several of the other guys capture the memorable moment.

Jose Hernandez is one of them.  He is a travel and nature photographer, who travels the world doing this.  I’m guessing it’s no fluke he was there for the shot, while I was walking in the field with my camera pointed at the ground.

Click here to visit Jose’s photo gallery.

Click here to visit Jose’s photo blog

But even he called it, “The shot of a lifetime.” 

His shot is included with this blog with his permission.  I also took a photo with my iPhone of the back of Dave Turko’s camera.  Ironically, While Jose and Dave clicked away, their companions had their backs to the action scanning the field with binoculars for other deer.  

Click here to visit Dave Turko’s photo gallery

“Mind if I crash the party?” I asked as I walked up to the group.  “Please join us,” they said.  Telling me what I already knew … “But you already missed the best shot.”

They explained that a “button” buck had come too close to the fawn, and the fight ensued when the doe became protective.  The buck ran off, and as you can see in my photos no harm came to the fawn.

I was happy enough just to have a subject to photograph and I got some of the best wildlife photos I have ever taken. 

I missed the shot of a lifetime, but there’s always next time. 

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