Deer Facts & Moose Facts and Tips For Getting Great Deer Pictures and Moose Pictures
Moose are the largest member of the deer family weighing in between 1200-1500 lbs. Moose have a life span of 15 to 25 years and only the males (bull) have antlers. Each year, antlers are shed in November or December and another, slightly larger set begin to grow the next midsummer. Moose antlers may have as many as 30 tines (spikes). Moose are very good swimmers and can easily swim 10 miles and just in case you are out taking moose pictures during the rut keep in mind they can run up to 30 mph so it pays to have your wits about you. Moose have poor eyesight so they rely primarily on a keen sense of smell. You likely knew a moose can feed underwater but did you know it can dive more than 15 feet to the bottom of a lake for food? The word moose comes from the Algonquin word mooswa, which means “twig-eater.” This is fitting given moose eat willow, birch and aspen twigs, horsetail, sedges, roots, pond weeds and grasses, leaves, twigs, buds and the bark of some woody plants, as well as lichens, aquatic plants and some of the taller herbaceous land plants. It is estimated that there are between 500,000 and 1 million moose in Canada and Algonquin Park in Ontario is one of the best places for wild moose photography.
White-tailed Deer Facts: The white-tailed deer is the most common of all of North America’s large mammals and the most widely distributed. Its diet consists mostly of green plants, nuts, and in the winter, wood vegetation. Here’s a little piece of amazing trivia for you – the white-tailed deer can make vertical leaps of over eight feet and horizontal leaps of 30 feet – that’s almost as long as a school bus. One unusual characteristic of the white-tailed deer is that the doe leaves her fawn unattended for hours at a time. The fawn has very little scent and its spotted coat provides natural camouflage, which keeps it safe from predators. The doe returns a few times a day to feed the fawn. Does and fawns usually stay together for about a year, sometimes two. When sensing danger, a deer raises its tail a behavior known as ‘flagging. Bearing this large white patch on the underside of the tail signals an alarm to other deer and helps a fawn follow its mother to safety. For most of the year, bucks and does stay in separate groups, but during the winter, larger groups of deer gather together. This helps to keep winter trails cleared and offers protection from predators.
Deer Photography & Moose Photography – Tips For Getting Great Deer Pictures & Moose Pictures.
- Most wildlife photographers I know are after the classic moose picture or deer picture portraying a very large set of antlers. Given both species shed their antlers late Autumn, early winter your window of opportunity to capture that shot is September and October during breeding season as the bulls (male moose) and bucks (male deer) are most active during this time. A word of caution, bulls and bucks can become extremely aggressive during the rut (breeding season) so approach the situation cautiously. I always make sure I have an escape route planned out and a nearby tree that I can place between myself and them if need be.
- I shoot f/2.8 or f/4 for single deer and moose shots when I am cropping in tight on just the animal as I prefer the background to be as out of focus as possible. I am usually taking these shots with my Nikon 200-400mm or my Nikon 600mm. When the backdrop is a lovely Autumn scene I bump up the f stop up to f11 or f/16 to keep the background more in focus. The f/16 in focus shot is what I use when I want to portray the deer or moose in its natural environment and I will typically be using my Nikon 24-70mm or Nikon 70-200mm for that type of shot.
- If things get heated and the males begin to chase the females try to keep your shutter speed above 1/800 to freeze the action unless you are intentionally going for the blurred motion image which often turns out very nice result but it takes some practice. Shutter speeds for panning are always going to depend first on the speed (and distance) you have to move your camera. I’ve found 1/80th gives a nice artistic blur but you’ll need to experiment with every scenario to get a shot you find appealing.
- We’ve talked about the rut in Autumn but the summer months can be great for moose photography. The bulls will have velvet on their antlers and both the bulls and cows can be spotted feeding on the lilies in the marshes which makes for a very nice setting for moose photography. Odds are you’ll need a boat unless you are lucky enough to see one roadside. Dawn and dusk tend be when moose are most often seen. Deer are more active after dusk however I tend to see them at all times of the day.
- If you’ve never hired a moose guide I would highly recommend it. I booked my moose tour with Michael Bertelsen of Algonquin Park Photography Tours and it was a fantastic experience. This was a two day moose tour by boat and his boat is nicely configured for 4 photographers.
- You’ll hear this repeated over and over in wildlife photography but having sharp focus on the animals eye is a must so make that your focal point. I’ve yet to see an award winning moose picture or deer picture where the eye was out of focus.
- The very best wildlife photography images are usually taken at the subjects eye level or shooting upwards. Example, the deer or moose is on a ridge above your shooting position.
- Pay attention to the backgrounds. Coniferous trees with snow, fall colours and rock outcroppings make wonderful backdrops for deer and moose photography. Sometimes a good shot could have been great if only you had taken a step to the right or the left so pay close attention when you look through the viewfinder not only at the animal but what is behind it.
- Plan to take a variety of lenses with you. I shoot everything from a 24-70 to 600mm and everything in between. Shooting with different lenses yields varied perspectives and that makes for a more interesting and diversified portfolio.
- Don’t forget to go vertical every once and a while especially with single subjects that are beside tall vertical objects likes rocks or trees. Often the front cover of a magazine or calendar is looking for a vertical shot so mix it up.