Over the years I have spent watching, stalking and photographing fallow deer I have seen that there are certain patterns in their movements and behaviour. I have learnt these through my photographic and hunting stalks and this particular scenario is just one that I have enjoyed a few times when out and about.
With a hunt or photographic endeavour that has started from a high glassing position with the binoculars and with prevailing calm conditions, the deer are often spotted out in the open feeding and they are a long way from my position. This usually necessitates a stalk down low using available cover and trying not to spook the intervening kangaroos.
Also, as first light dawns it is not uncommon for a still pre-dawn to change into a breezy one and Then you have to stop and re-evaluate your stalk. Now in this case, even though the breeze was in my favour, I held my position in or next to some cover as, with the arrival of the wind, the deer generally begin to move off.
So, staying at my high vantage position, I watched the movement of the deer and any other animals in the area.
I observed the deer begin to move off in a certain direction and, sticking to higher ground, I moved off in a parallel direction while ensuring I stuck to cover, even though I am a long way off. If the cover thinned out I crouched down and kept in the shadows, trying as much as possible to stay out of the sunlight.
With patience and this approach, it was not long before a pattern emerged in the deers’ movement and I could reasonably well predict were they might be moving to. If I had been stealthy enough while following the deer, I should reach a point again to stop, wait and prepare for photography or the taking of a clean humane shot.
All went well until this point and some nice photos had been taken, and while looking at the surrounding area it became apparent that the deer were moving to a spot to bed for the morning. It is at the junction of the gully as it begins to rise upward with some light timber and bush to bed down into for protection from the wind and the oncoming heat of the day.
Spending the next part of the morning watching the deer get settled, I planned my stalk for another photo session. With the use of terrain and cover and the now steady breeze it was getting to the stage that even the sound of my clothes brushing against foliage would put the deer on alert. At around 50 yards and with the wind in my face, this slight sound would still spook the deer.
While the deer were now looking in my direction, I stayed still in my cover and as long as they had not scented me, I’d thought that they should settle again.
I have found that their first movement after being alerted is to start to settle again to feed, and then to have a quick look in my direction again as if to be testing the area I am in. Later on, if the deer bed, there eyes at first would gravitate back to be fixed on my location.
All I then have to do is stay still, waiting patiently and once things look quiet again begin to glass the deer
and keep my movements to the minimum. If I need to move it is very slowly, and as cautiously as possible, just a little at a time with breaks at very regular intervals. I now constantly glass the deer with slow movements so as to be sure they are settled and then enjoy taking as many photos as possible.
With my morning now almost over and not wanting to spook the deer, I plan a return visit in a few days and my stealth will likely result in them not moving away from the area.
This was just one scenario from watching and stalking fallow deer and many more can be enjoyed from different areas with other types of terrain and conditions that will lead to more being learnt about them; it’s all part of being out there and it is, of course, very enjoyable.