#fireisland ~ #whitetailwednesday

By Robert Sherman ~ At first light the females gather coyly at the water’s edge, licking salt and enjoying the cool morning together. Meanwhile, the males get on with their ramping and rutting up on the beach where the sand is rodeo ring dry. It is quite the sight.When they’re done they hop the dune fence and carry on with their day without bothering anyone. They were here first, and they don’t seem to mind us, in spite of our having fenced off so much of their grazing land over the years. They see us as their neighbors now, and in turn, they are a delightful part of the bucolic fabric of our daily lives on Fire Island.They are such a wonderful presence here. The little families on my street and yours, the shy greeting of the adorably spotted fawns each spring, the gentle does, the jutting antlered young bucks, and the majestic 12-point stags, all just doing what they do so peacefully that they should only be an inspiration to us all. And for all this we owe them our care and respect.There was one spring when a particular young female, recognizably marked, for some reason took a shine to me. She followed me adoringly every time we saw each other, and she posed for so many of my photographs. I fell in love with her and named her New Girl on the Block. I was completely smitten by her paying me such special attention. I think a lot of us must have stories like this.The #whitetailwednesday is largely used by game hunters, but this publication appropriated it as a protest against the policy of deer culling on within Fire Island National Seashore, and it resonated with our readership. The movement is in support coexistence and better alternatives.In photographing our Cervidae birthright neighbors I will use a long zoom lens (70-300) to keep my distance and leave them in peace. A focus field of around f/8 is required for their long bodies or, if you’re zooming in for the portrait, their long faces……a buck walks into a bar and the bartender says, “Why the long face?”But I digress…Some of the deer are quite playful, curious, and bold, and then I’ll wish I had brought a 50mm prime, or even a macro lens for when they roguishly sniff at my camera. And my shutter speed is set very high (1/2000), as these wild creatures do move around quite a bit. My camera has eye tracking settings for humans, dogs, and cats, but not for deer. But those are all kind of silly anyway. I just keep it on regular eye tracking. Because have you seen a deer’s eyes up close? Their whole sweet innocent world is in “Them There Eyes.”I don’t know where New Girl on the Block went after the following winter. I didn’t see her anymore. I hope she just grew up and moved on to live her life peacefully elsewhere.