The rut is on, at least in the northern half of the US. This is an excellent time to get outside and photograph whitetail deer. At this time of year the males look their very best, with beautiful new coats, nice polished antlers, and necks swollen with the rut. They also have other things on their mind so they are not quite so secretive. Another thing I really like about this time of year is you have a lot more opportunities to photograph unique deer behavior. The deer in this photo is checking a scent post as he walks along a deer trail. Some of the other possibilities include fighting, scent marking, and various mating behaviors.
I like to work deer in local parks and sanctuaries where they are not hunted. One reason is that with all the hunters in the woods at this time of year, it is a lot safer for me. The main reason however is deer that are not hunted are quite a bit easier to approach and photograph. Even though I am photographing deer that are more acclimated to the presence of people, I still make sure to take my time when approaching. Because I would much rather earn the animals trust and be able to spend some quality time with it. Then do a sloppy approach and get one shot of the terrified beast before he bounds off never to be seen again. So take some time and do a good stalk. Never walk straight at your subject. Pause often, and avoid direct eye contact. Tail flicking, head bobbing, foot stomping, are all signs of nervousness. If you see any of these things take a break and let things settle down, before you move any closer. If you take some time here and don’t push your subject I guarantee it will pay off with more photographic opportunities on the other end.