Tag Archives: white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

Natural flavor

It’s not that I’ve lost interest in blogging.  In fact, I have an endless supply of stories to tell and photos to share.

But the requisites of life care not for personal endeavors.

I’m the youngest person at our family farm.  I should add that I’m the youngest by decades.  And I’m the healthiest person here—healthiest despite back surgery, knee surgery, sinus surgery, leukemia, and all that jazz.

But this is a real farm with real livestock and real work to be done: animals to be fed and cared for, pastures to be tended, fences to be put up or fixed, crops to be grown and nurtured, vehicles and equipment to be maintained, pets to be managed, meals to be cooked, supplies to be acquired, technology to be administered…

And yet this is also a household with real needs beyond the farm: be the copy editor for family newsletters and stories; take care of everyone’s cell phones, satellite internet, computers and modems and routers and printers/scanners/fax machines; find the best deal for this, that or the other; fix televisions and satellite TV services; plant and care for flowers and bushes and fruit trees and vegetables and whatnot; find solutions to rodent problems that plague gardens and households and livestock and…

Well, let’s just say that this is a real farm and a real household with real work and real needs and a diminishing lack of able bodies.

Except me.

In my “spare” time I’m still writing books, still snapping photos, still looking for paid work I can do without taking away from the farm, still being there for my parents and family through their increasing health issues, still hoping for another visit with my nieces and nephews and brothers and sister and aunts and uncles and…

Well…  Still wishing life had dealt me a more manageable hand than the one I have to play, still thinking that I’ll catch a break as soon as the universe realizes it gave me bad cards, still trying to maintain a poker face whilst clinging to sanity.

Nevertheless, blogging and photography and…  Well—again—let’s just say that my aspirations cower behind a deck stacked against them, and they and I don’t seem to have any input into the deal or play of cards.

To wit, I want to do this but I have to do that.

I want to write more, publishing books and novellas and articles.  I want to delve into people photography, whether for profit or for fun.  I want to continue my nature photography, published or otherwise.  I want to keep abreast with technology and remain an expert in that arena, able to deal with any question or need no matter the platform.  I want to set aside my work for the people—Well, let’s just say that I want to focus on personal efforts instead of what’s required of me by the populace (who need me but don’t even know they need me).

Only I’m not someone’s bitch, not time’s nor life’s nor the world’s.  So here’s where I take control of my digital existence.  Or so I tell myself.

Close-up of a black & yellow argiope (Argiope aurantia) silhouetted by the sun (20081011_13628)

Because—let’s be honest here—we spin our webs and catch our prey without a thought for what we control.  We live life sans a care for what we feel, let alone for what we manage.

Early morning crepuscular rays seen through trees and ground fog (20131018_08774)

And the rays of light carry us from moment to moment, from morning to morning, from here to there.

White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) jumping a pasture fence (20140114_09569)

We jump our fences.  We find our way through the mayhem of what is and what comes.

Close-up of a Texas dandelion (Pyrrhopappus carolinianus) in sunshine (20140525_10603)

We bloom when nothing matters, when nothing counts, when the world measures itself for naught.

A beetle atop blooming prairie fleabane (Erigeron strigosus) (20140529_10696)

We stand upon the blooms we discount only because they hold us up and carry us forward.

A male giant stag beetle (Lucanus elaphus) walking across gravel (20140625_11524)

We march forward without a care for the world.

A zebra swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus) eating minerals from the ground (20140703_11720)

We flit from here to there so we can consume sustenance, so we can survive.

A brown morph female blue-fronted dancer (Argia apicalis) resting on wood (20140811_12152)

We rest.  We lie comfortably so we can rest.  And we rest.

A leucistic female ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) perched on a feeder (20140811_12304)

We stand out from the crowd when we’re nothing more than what is.

A female green anole (Anolis carolinensis) peering around a corner at me (20140923_12528)

And we catch a peek when we can.  We look upon what is and accept that we are what was.

Because we’re more than what we thought, we’re more than what we believed.  In the end, we are more.

Thus, I’m more.

And I want to be more.

And I will be more.

Because I’m going to move forward.

I’m going to win.

I’m going to survive.

I’m going to overcome.

— — — — — — — — — —


  1. Black & yellow argiope (a.k.a. yellow garden spider; Argiope aurantia) – female
  2. Crepuscular rays
  3. White-tailed deer (a.k.a. whitetail deer; Odocoileus virginianus)
  4. Texas dandelion (a.k.a. false dandelion, Carolina desert-chicory, leafy false dandelion or Florida dandelion; Pyrrhopappus carolinianus)
  5. Prairie fleabane (a.k.a. daisy fleabane or rough fleabane; Erigeron strigosus)
  6. Giant stag beetle (a.k.a. American stag beetle; Lucanus elaphus) – male
  7. Zebra swallowtail (a.k.a. black-barred swallowtail; pawpaw butterfly or kite swallowtail; Eurytides marcellus)
  8. Blue-fronted dancer (Argia apicalis) – brown morph female
  9. Ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) – leucistic female
  10. Green anole (a.k.a. Carolina anole; Anolis carolinensis) – female


The sun had yet to show even a sliver of its bright disk above the horizon, though the ample light of dawn made clear it wouldn’t be long before that happened.  And as is always the case that early in the morning, my uncle and I were already busy tending to farm work.

Because white-tailed deer (a.k.a. whitetail deer; Odocoileus virginianus) are common out here in the country, we often see them as we toil about the property.  In fact, some have become so accustomed to us that they don’t run—instead they look at us briefly before returning to whatever they’re doing.  Which is usually eating.

So on this morning we glanced into the largest pasture and noticed a doe standing perhaps ten yards/meters from the fence.  She knew we were close—standing at the fence—yet she never stopped or ran.

And what was she doing?  It was obvious from the moment I saw her, with her head far down in the tall grass.  I knew she had a fawn.  From the way she tended to it without fleeing, I also knew it couldn’t be more than a few hours old because she was still cleaning it, licking it, bonding with it.

So I grabbed my camera.

By then, as luck would have it, the newborn was able to get up and walk, albeit not fast and not expertly.  As I approached the fence again with my camera, we saw the mother turn and walk steadily away from us.

The only sign of the fawn was the grass bending and parting a step or two behind the doe.  That meant I’d have to go in the pasture if I had any hope of grabbing a photo or two. 

Over the fence I went.

I had to move at a good pace in order to catch up to the pair who had already made it across most of the large pasture.  They rapidly approached the corner of the fence.  I rapidly approached as well.

Though the doe made it over without a problem, she paused on the other side of the fence even as I neared.  I knew it was my chance.  She was waiting on the fawn who would have to wiggle and squeeze through the fence.

When the doe bolted, huffing all the while, and paused maybe ten yards/meters away, still huffing at me, I realized it was my chance.  The fawn had to be nearby since it couldn’t keep up with its mother, not to mention its mother trying hard to keep me interested in her.

Then I found it just a step away.

A white-tailed fawn (Odocoileus virginianus) hiding in tall grass (20140623_11370)

Nestled in tall grass and motionless, the fawn was perfectly concealed, at least from predators looking for a solid outline or something in motion or a contrasting coat.

A white-tailed fawn (Odocoileus virginianus) hiding in tall grass (20140623_11392)

While I snapped a few photos, the mother looped around through the woods nearby, huffing every few steps, stopping often to look at me, making sure I saw and heard her.  But I had no intention of harming her newborn, a baby just hours old, so I let her continue with her display and her antics as I focused on the fawn.

A white-tailed fawn (Odocoileus virginianus) hiding in tall grass (20140623_11382)

Just a few images more of this beautiful creature, so young and so vulnerable yet so unflinching, and then I stood and walked away, not looking back, not pausing.

Close-up of a white-tailed fawn (Odocoileus virginianus) hiding in tall grass (20140623_11378)

Only when I’d crossed the pasture did I dare to glance back.  I saw only the doe as she meandered slowly back into the woods from where I’d just been standing.  And though I couldn’t see it for all the trees and grass between us, I imagined somewhere right behind her was a tiny little fawn pushing through grass much taller than it was, a newborn who knew when it was time to sit still and when it was time to follow its mother.

I smiled briefly, glad for the encounter, then I went back to work.

— — — — — — — — — —


  1. I normally would not consider interfering with nature in such a way just to get a photo.  I prefer passive observation and in situ images.  But in this case I realized I could only get the images if I could get close enough to force the fawn into hiding.  And I also knew my quick visit would cause no lasting harm, what with the mother staying a stone’s throw away and keeping a close eye on her child.
  2. My apologies for my long absence from blogging.  It’s been a hectic and busy summer around the family farm.  I’ve had barely enough time to do some occasional photography, but for the most part I have worked and worked and worked with little time for anything else.  As the summer comes to a close and things begin to slow down a wee bit around here, I have ample pictures and stories to share.  And I intend to do just that.

Blog reboot

I’m rebooting xenogere.


Mating pair of syrphid flies (a.k.a. hover flies; Toxomerus marginatus)

Since I last changed my blog theme, I’ve grown increasingly disenchanted with blogging.

That is to say I’ve hated the idea.

But no more.

Close-up of a red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

Facebook and Twitter and Google+ and various other diversions will no longer distract me.

I will, however, continue to focus on my novels.

Because I have more important things to do.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) mobbing a feeder

And I’ll focus on photography.

Because I can make money with that, let alone use it to expand my horizons.

A male eastern Hercules beetle (Dynastes tityus) crawling on my hand

And I’ll focus on technology work since that has put many a coin in my pockets.

I mean, hey, come on already.

A female white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) with her fawn

I started blogging more than eleven years ago.

It’s time to either shut down and move on or restart and move forward.

I choose to move forward.

A Striped bark scorpion (Centruroides vittatus) eating a cricket--which has been decapitated

As you can see, I’ve made significant changes to the site. These changes aren’t done yet. In fact, not only are they a work in progress, they’re a work in need of focus.

There are problems I must fix, changes I must make, enhancements I must address.

So the site’s incomplete. But trust me when I say I’ll take care of it.

a Carolina mantis (Stagmomantis carolina) crawling along a storage barrel

Meanwhile, it’s time for me to get back on the horse so to speak.

And I intend to do just that.

A timid approach named curiosity

Upon a desolate road I sat, a dirt road stretching between nowhere and no place.  Beneath the simmering sun I cooled myself in the car as I watched and waited.  Not for anything in particular, mind you, but instead I waited for anything.  That’s when she arrived, a female white-tailed deer (a.k.a. whitetail deer; Odocoileus virginianus).

A female white-tailed deer (a.k.a. whitetail deer; Odocoileus virginianus) rounding a grassy hillock (2009_05_22_020070)

Behind the windshield’s sunscreen I hunkered, behind the dark window tint I hid, and from there I watched her as she approached, finally taking station in the shade of an Ashe juniper (a.k.a. post cedar, mountain cedar or blueberry juniper; Juniperus ashei).

A female white-tailed deer (a.k.a. whitetail deer; Odocoileus virginianus) standing in the shade of a tree (2009_05_22_020068)

Repeatedly she glanced at the car, its quiet motor humming, its occupant camouflaged from view, only brief movements of the camera lens visible.  But obviously the click of the dSLR’s shutter called to her, for each photo captured brought her gaze back to me, back to the car.

A female white-tailed deer (a.k.a. whitetail deer; Odocoileus virginianus) watching and listening closely (2009_05_22_020066)

Expecting her to flee the unknown, much to my surprise she turned and approached, timidly, slowly, carefully, yet always forward, always looking, always curious.

Close-up of a female white-tailed deer (a.k.a. whitetail deer; Odocoileus virginianus) as she looks at the camera (2009_05_22_020080_c)

Eventually near enough for me to toss a rock to her, she stopped and stared, so docile and inquisitive, so standoffish and peculiar.  How I stared, wondering about this odd behavior, wondering what behooved her to seek enlightenment rather than shelter.

Close-up of a female white-tailed deer (a.k.a. whitetail deer; Odocoileus virginianus) as she looks timid yet curious (2009_05_22_020077)

A step closer she came, still curious, but when the shutter sounded this time, her ears went back with surprise and worry, yet she remained probing and unmoving, almost meek and needful.  Finally I stopped photographing her, instead choosing to watch her, to watch this strange and timid approach named curiosity.

Never before or since have I known a wild deer to be so forgiving of human encroachment in the name of satisfying unadulterated interest.

I ain’t no predator, yo

I’ve always said I would be a terrible hunter.  And I don’t mean terrible as in I’d never kill anything; I mean terrible as in I’d be a nightmare for whatever I was hunting.  That’s because I’ve spent years photographing wildlife and learning about wildlife, both activities having given me a tremendous understanding of animals, including how to get close to them, how to get them to come close to me, and how to make them either ignore me or feel comfortable about me being there.  In the hands of a nature photographer and naturalist, these skills are paramount and rewarding, offering something better than what the biggest lens can offer (which is just cold distance rather than close-up experience).  But in the hands of a hunter, these skills would be a terrible thing indeed.

She stood drinking from a dwindling pond when I first stepped into the open.  I didn’t know she was there until she bolted up the game trail and stopped just beneath the drip line to watch me.

A female white-tailed deer (a.k.a. whitetail deer; Odocoileus virginianus) standing at the head of a game trail (2009_05_16_018743)

Although curiosity and human tendencies demanded that I turn to look at her, to identify her and determine her disposition, I denied those urges and kept my face looking forward and away from her.  I let my peripheral vision do the work so I could accurately identify her location, then I slowly raised the camera, put it in front of my face held in both hands, and slowly turned only my head so I could get the lens aimed at her—and I turned only enough so I could look through the viewfinder without facing her directly.

With her tail held downward, she indicated she was not alarmed, and by her steady gaze she indicated she was curious about what I was up to but not yet ready to run for the hills.  So I started meandering toward her, never moving directly toward her and never moving too quickly, and never looking at her to get my bearings or judge distance.

A female white-tailed deer (a.k.a. whitetail deer; Odocoileus virginianus) standing at the entrance to dense woods (2009_05_16_018739)

She never flinched.  She kept watching me, always with tail held downward, her gaze constantly on me.  I suspect she was confused about what I was doing and whether or not I was a threat.  I never gave any predatory signals, never indicated I was even aware of her, so she stood her ground and observed.

A female white-tailed deer (a.k.a. whitetail deer; Odocoileus virginianus) standing at the entrance to dense woods (2009_05_16_018737)

I closed the distance by at least half, though I couldn’t judge distance without utilizing binocular vision; that would require looking directly at her, something I was unwilling to do.  So I’m not sure how close I got, but it was much closer than I expected.  And it wasn’t until I spooked an alligator—which in turn spooked me—that she finally turned and vanished into the woods.

Had I been a hunter, I could have killed her many times over.  Thankfully for her and me, all I was shooting with was my camera.

— — — — — — — — — —


  1. Photos are of a female white-tailed deer (a.k.a. whitetail deer; Odocoileus virginianus)
  2. I have nothing against hunting or hunters so long as the practice is done for sustenance and not sport; killing for pleasure is an indication that you have problems.
  3. There are many tricks to approaching wildlife and/or making them comfortable with you.  I will never publically discuss them in detail.
  4. Depth perception is a function of binocular vision.  Since I never looked at the deer except with one eye through the viewfinder, I really can’t judge how close I got, though I’ve been within six feet/two meters of one, a story I’ll share at a later time.
  5. This entire encounter lasted less than ten minutes.
  6. Were it not for that one dead vine hanging down and sometimes obscurring her face, these photos would be awesome.
  7. I was stupid not to watch more closely at where I was walking.  I would have noticed the alligator if I’d been doing so.  I was lucky I didn’t walk up on a venomous snake, and I was lucky the alligator decided to flee when I invaded its personal space.  Lesson learned.