Photographing White Tailed Deer Through a Blind

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Photographing whitetail deer from an outdoor blind requires all your technical and artistic skills. In this video, pro wildlife photographer Doug Gardner gives you tips and techniques from the blind he constructed along the Arkansas River in Kansas. To learn the habits of deer in the wild, he suggests you talk to hunters on how to read the animal’s body language, how to study the terrain, and when the weather conditions are right. Silence is the cornerstone of deer behavior, which means you need to always be ready.

Rutting season is in full swing, and the bucks are chasing the does. You have to be on constant alert for the right moment, and it can happen quickly. When photographing deer from a blind, you need to keep your movements down. The goal is to attract deer without spooking them so they feel safe roaming your area. Natural lighting is an issue. You need to know where the sun rises and sets. The deer like to stay in the shade and don’t often move into the sunlight. Aiming his camera at the base of a cottonwood tree, Doug sets his exposure at neutral gray to mimic the deer colors. He uses a 500mm lens and a camera with a 1.4 crop factor for good focal range. He tries to stay flexible with his focal length and shutter speed settings.

In the course of his day of photography, Doug captures images of several bucks including a curious adolescent who comes close to the blind. It’s important to watch the body language. If a deer lifts its head high, it’s the sign of alarm. Head low means it is on the scent. Foot stomping means they are soon to take off running. In general, if you find does in your area, the bucks will soon show up. Join pro Doug Gardner for a wild adventure photographing the Kansas whitetail deer.

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See all videos in our Capturing the Kansas City Whitetail Deer Course: