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Key behaviours / activities to look out for this month are:

  • Movement of pregnant does to fawning areas

  • Arrival of baby deer

  • Mother does feeding and attending to their fawns

May can be a tricky month to photograph roe deer. The bucks often settle down a little, after their territorial boundaries have been firmly established for the season, and they are, therefore, not as active as they were in March and April.

The does can become elusive, as they move into their fawning areas, where they seek security through isolation, to give birth to their new young.

A particularly sensitive approach is needed in May. 

The main event will be the arrival of the new fawns, but in my opinion, a photographer must not risk disturbing the females simply to get a certain type of shot.

On more than one occasion, I have been in the vicinity of a doe whilst she's in the birthing process, and have refrained from making an approach, even though the deer was very habituated to my presence.

The resulting images may have been wonderful, but the risk of making those shots would have been too great, for me at least.

The two possible scenarios go like this:

If I would have got close up to the deer and the doe was completely undisturbed, then great, that would have been perfect.

But that is highly unlikely to happen. During the immediate lead up time to when the doe goes into labour (which typically lasts one to two hours), she is going to be especially flighty.

So, imagine what would happen if a photographer made a close approach during this time, which disturbed the expectant doe.

What if she spooked, and the fawn ended up dying in the process? 

Or, if the fawn had been born, but the mother moved away from the birthing site (where the fawn would be lying), before cleaning and drying her newborn? 

Or, where the mother failed to clean up the birthing site, therefore attracting predators into the area, where the vulnerable fawn would be residing?

No shot is worth any of those senarios.

Really, just to make a rarely seen image?

No chance. 

Our photographs are not that important, and are certainly not worth risking the welfare of the deer.

The way I see it, if a photographer really does care about his or her subjects, they would never do anything like that, and I would implore you not to take that risk either.

Okay, so what's my suggestion?

As stated above, May is the time when we need to be especially sensitive about what we're doing and how it affects the animals.

Don't position yourself in any spot where your presence is likely to noticeably / significantly disturb the deer.  If you do, their behaviour will be adversely be affected, and it will be a lose / lose situation for you and the deer: the deer will not carry out their normal, daily routines because they're too scared, and you won't get any decent shots.

If you take the time to really think about your position relative the deer (and remember to take into account wind direction so your scent doesn't alert them), you will be rewarded by being able to record their natural, undisturbed behaviour - which is, after all, what we all want to do.

That way, you can make photographs of the deer going about their daily routines, such as the doe moving around her home range with her fawns and nursing the young, which would be difficult to do if your approach was not a sensitive one.

May is also a time of flux in the deer community, where the yearlings are dispersing away from their natal area, so last year's young can turn up at any time, often in unexpected places.

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