Where’d They Go?
Ungulates; deer, elk, pronghorn, moose, bighorn sheep, simply don’t like heat. About this time, they have shed their thick winter coat and are starting to store fat for the fall rut and winter. In this process, they seek the cool. At the same time, the light this time of year gives us about, oh, two minutes in the morning and four minutes in the afternoon when it’s not nasty. This combination makes for tough big game photography which leaves you with a couple of options. The most obvious is, wait until Sept before heading out to photography big game (my personal favorite). In Sept, they are back out as the hot days are fewer and they are starting to grow their winter coats so look much more like magnificent wild critters.
The other option is to be in the field before sunrise heading to locations where you’ve done your homework the night before to find where they are bedding down. Once you know the location where they are bedding down, find the closest water because they’ve got to drink and typically they’ll do that early in the day. You’ll have to wait to see if mother nature will be nice to you and give you the photo. While you’re doing your homework, look also for shade that’s being used. You will be able to tell, the ground cover will be beaten down and much of the shrubs will be browsed. Because if you want to photograph big game now, this is what you’ve got to do. Oh, looking for racks like the one this Mule Deer is wearing, you’re too early. You’ve got about 45 days before they are this big and longer before they are this clean. When it comes to lenses, I prefer those in the 200 – 400mm range, my preferred is the 200-400VR2 but will be trying out the new 80-400 this fall.