Earlier this week I drove with my wife to our hunting area. She has never seen the place and I wanted to show her what a beautiful remote place it is. Living here in Merritt it’s just about an hours drive from our house, compared to a four-hour drive from where we lived before. I purposely chose to go in the late afternoon and just before a big weather front moved in. As all hunters know. Late afternoon or early morning and big weather fronts moving in or out are the best times for seeing animals on the move, and I wanted for my wife to see lots of animals so she can take pictures. As a freelance and assignment photographer she is always looking for subjects to point the camera at and we did not get disappointed.
The moment we left the highway and entered the logging roads we saw the first deer. Further along into the wilderness I spotted a young mule deer buck hurrying across the logging road and up a little butte where he stood still and looked back at us. He provided the perfect image but as my wife got ready with the camera the buck decided not be a photo model and disappeared over the ridge.
Nothing to worry about there will be more deer along the way. On a small lake where I often see moose sign we stopped the car. Armed with bear spray and a sturdy walking stick we silently stalked the short way to the edge of the lake in the hopes to surprise a moose having a snack of tender water plants that grow plentiful all along the waters edge. But no such luck, other than fresh tracks and droppings left behind my moose the lakeshore was devoid of any critters.
Further we went, along the bumpy dirt road deeper and deeper into the wilderness. Driving around a corner a huge older mule deer doe jumped over the road and up the hill. Within seconds three more does and two big bucks followed her. The first doe stood still watching us as we were watching her while the others disappeared over the ridge into the big timber. The first doe soon settled down once she was convinced that we are no threat to her. Time to take pictures. My wife happily snapped picture after picture while the doe posed like an old pro before she walked into the timber.
Not as mile further ahead we stopped again watching and photographing a doe right next to the road. Just a little bit further and we arrived at the point where the overgrown logging road ends. I told my wife to get ready with the camera because this is a good spot to see grouse. Sure enough right there, on a big log sat a grouse eyeing us up, its picture taking time again.
I am not exactly sure how many pictures of animals and scenery my wife took. It may be over 50 or 60, perhaps even one hundred. Photographers take an awful lot of pictures and then spend hours at home to sort through them, mercilessly editing until only the very best remain that are deemed of a high enough quality. Of all the pictures taken there might at the end only be a half dozen that make it the portfolio, sometimes even less. For my wife only the best of the best is just good enough.
We saw twenty deer on that short trip, and all near our hunting camp, are you surprised to find me all pumped up for the arrival of the hunting season. It’s going to be a good year for deer hunting, but I still have fine tune some stand locations. Besides deer we saw plenty sign of bears, which so surprise given that the logging road etches are full of berry bushes. We flushed several grouse as we drove along the road and chipmunks darting pack and forth everywhere.
(Note: This is not the area where I hunt but this beautiful landscape photographed by my wife looks similar.)All in all we have had a great time together in a beautiful piece of countryside. I would love to show you more pictures of the area, but as I understand there are quite a few hunters from Merritt reading this blog, just waiting for me to give some clue about the whereabouts of my hunting honey hole.
Spending time together like this is also a good way to get a child or friend (or wife) introduced to hunting. Next time you head out to scout take someone along and make it fun and it might just happen that you gained a new hunting partner. Wouldn’t that be great!
All pictures courtesy and Copyright of Heidi I. Koehler
Tags: Merritt, Freelance and Assignment Photography, Wildlife Photography.