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The high risks of wildlife photography

We put the trail cameras out where the big deer live.

There are advantages and disadvantages to such placement. A big advantage, in addition to getting good deer pictures, is a person does not end up with pictures of extraneous cows or people passing by. The major disadvantage is the cameras are very difficult to get to when it comes time to check for those special pictures.

Two weeks ago, before going on vacation, I got bit by chiggers, spiders, and mosquitoes in my trip to retrieve the memory cards. It was miserable. This week I was prepared. I was not going to live through that again if I had to wait for a frost that would kill all the insects before I got my pictures. I had enough insect repellant to bathe a medium-sized horse with. I was going to use it and use it liberally.

On the trip to the farm, I asked my wife if she wanted to go check the cameras with me. Being a polite woman, she said she would gladly wait in the truck while I went into the timber rather than saying what she really thought.

I tried to convince her it would be a pleasant walk in the woods. It was then she told me what she really thought. It was not a good thing. She is the one that saw my collection of assorted itchy insect bites. She wanted no part of it and explained that fact in no uncertain terms.

I parked as close as possible to the first camera and explained to my wife I would be back in less than an hour as she sprayed the hard to reach places with maximum strength DEET. She was perfectly content to wait patiently and listen to the sounds of nature in her isolated spot, inside the truck.

Jumping off the creek bank and crawling up the other side, I found it to be a pleasant day to be out in the woods. I did wonder how I was going to manage to crawl back up the bank I jumped off, but that was something to deal with later.

The first camera is located about in the center of 80 acres of hardwood timber. The sun does not reach the ground as the canopy of leaves covers the whole area. The ground stays moist and smells like the woods is supposed to smell. Animals scurry along the route, some seen, some not. It is like being in a whole different world; the world that belongs to the wildlife.

I found the first camera, switched memory cards, and proceeded to the other. On the way I saw a doe with her twin fawns as they dashed off over the hill. I startled an owl off his roost and scared a couple of turkeys, not enough to fly, but bad enough for them to make a hasty trot out of sight.

Changing the card on the second camera, I saw a nice buck not too far away. He was aware of my presence, just not to sure exactly where I was. He looked around for a bit before turning to run away.

All things considered, I had a nice walk in the woods. I was thinking about my good fortune in seeing wildlife and contemplating how best to cross the final ditch as I approached it. It was then I was attacked by a swarm of hornets. I jumped over the edge of the ditch and had no problem scaling the other side. While swinging my hat madly as I ran toward the truck, I was yelling at my wife to roll up the truck windows. My wife has been married to me long enough to know, at times like this, do not ask why. They only stung me a few times and did not get into the truck.

We did get some nice pictures but I think next time it is Damon's turn to check the cameras.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.