Photographing the Deer Rut

It’s that time of year again, the time to get ready for photographing the mule deer rut.

Setting up the Camera

Photographing the Mule Deer Rut

I arrived at the trailhead just after sunrise and spotted the Three Amigos on the top of the ridge. Usually they are just standing around grazing on mountain grass when I find them, but on this day I noticed they were chasing each other around a bit. Of course this means the rut, otherwise known as the mating season was beginning.

The deer are often found back in the trees where animal tracking and eye focus aren’t going to work very well, so I switched my Canon R7 to my custom function 2 on the dial. C2 is a special collection of settings for photographing deer and elk in the trees. This mode also has animal and eye focus turned off and a focus point set to the middle point. It is the most sensitive o all the points.

I have this program set to use shutter priority with a shutter speed of a 1000th of a second. With my 100-400mm f/5.6 lens and 1.4x teleconverter my aperture is limited to f/8, not a bad selection for a herd of deer. I leave the ISO on auto to allow the camera to assure a successful exposure.

Photographing the Mule Deer Rut

Queue the Does

Mule deer herd in the Colorado high country

I soon saw what the three bucks were so interested in. A lone doe strolled in from the right side of the frame toward the biggest of the three bucks. I aimed the focus point at the buck and hit the back button to freeze focus on the big stag. Then I fired off a few bursts of the electronic shutter at 15 frames per second to get the perfect moment.

Soon the doe walked in front of the big buck, so I had to focus on her and hit the back button once again. I continued holding the button to activate the continuous focus mode as she passed in front of the three bucks. Canon of course calls this AI Servo Mode.

The does and bucks interacted for a while before disappearing into the dense woods on the hillside. I continued on the trail as I peered into the woods hoping for some more captures. I found the deer, but it was too dark and the branches too numerous for any additional captures.

Winter is Not Far Off

Winter is fast approaching and you won’t want to miss all the awesome tips and images in my book Storm Warning! This publication will tell you where to go to get the best landscape images and most exciting wildlife captures. Learn how to prepare for safely enduring winter conditions with your camera, what mountain roads and what trails will yield the best results. And most importantly, how to set up your camera to get compelling captures in the harshest Rocky Mountain weather conditions! The book can be purchased on my author page on Amazon and Lulu Press!

Storm Warning Block
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Also check out my latest book Spirit of the Wolf, now available in paperback and eBook on Amazon and LuluPress.

Follow photographer and wildlife activist Caleb as he evolves from his beginnings as a fashion photographer in the Bay Area of California into a wildlife photographer and animal welfare activist in the Rocky Mountain West. Caleb through his many exciting and sometimes dangerous adventures he learns he must risk his life to battle ruthless ranchers and hunters to save the wild animals he has learned to love.

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