Meramec State Park (Deer Hollow Trail)

October 3, 2013

I took a jaunt to Meramec State Park on Saturday morning and I was waiting at the entrrance gate by 6:50 a.m. The final 10-minute wait wasn’t too bad because I was enjoying the last minutes of “Only A Game” on NPR, one of my favorite radio shows. A few minutes before seven, a park worker opened the gate and I headed to the parking lot at Fisher Cave which also serves as the trailhead for Deer Hollow Trail. I was hoping to capture some nice deer images, such as a doe/fawn combo, so I shouldered my 500 mm lens and tripod for the 2.5 mile round trip.

I was only on the trail for a few minutes when I spied a doe watching me from the woods ahead, about 20 yards off the side of the trail. I pulled my tripod down and set up for a shot as the doe watched intently. She didn’t look too nervous but she definitely was on alert to my shenanigans. There wasn’t much light so I framed the shot, locked down my gimbal head, set the two-second timer and finally the mirror lock-up to ensure a vibration-free image of the deer, which stood as still as a stone. After each shutter click she made a couple of circles with her head for a better look at me and then returned to her original position.

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After a few shots, the doe faded into the woods and I continued along the trail. When I reached the top of the first hill, I realized I was standing in the middle of a vulture roost. I could feel the percussive wing beats of the massive birds as they took flight from the canopy all around me. The woods were too thick to allow an image so I just relaxed and enjoyed the show as at least 20 birds circled around me, slowly gaining altitude. It was quite an experience to watch the vultures begin their day, almost at eye level.

As I continued down the trail I thought, “This is turning out to be a great morning, so far.” Shortly afterward, I noticed some movement in the woods and discovered two raccoons, a mama and baby, in separate trees. Mama didn’t seem too afraid and she soon decided to drop to the ground and head to a large den tree, but not before I captured an image of her hanging from the trunk of a smaller tree.

DJB_MER_2013_1034

The young raccoon, which is featured in the opening photograph, was more timid and tried to flatten itself against a tree branch like squirrels often do. I waited for a minute or two for it to look downward to check me out and that is when I captured the image.

I didn’t stay around after that because the last thing I wanted to do was scare the little raccoon any more than I already had. I had a great shot and there was no reason to be greedy for more. As I moved along the trail I envisioned the little raccoon scrambling down the tree and back up the den tree where mama was waiting.

I didn’t see much more as I finished my hike on Deer Hollow Trail, but I didn’t mind because the morning had already been a great success as far as I was concerned. I gave myself an “I-told-you-so” regarding the choice I’d made to commune with nature instead of sleeping in, a self-encouragement tool that I find helpful to keep me going from week to week.

I decided to take the road back to the trailhead instead of retracing my steps along the trail. I figured I might see that doe/fawn combo I was looking for when I began the day. Unfortunately, all was quiet on my way back to the truck but when I returned the next morning to hike a different trail, I finally ran into a mama deer with her fawn along the same road.

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It was a good thing Joyce was with me on the second trip because she spotted the deer as I looked in the opposite direction. I’ve included the shot of the doe and fawn as the final image of this post. I look forward to sharing more images from Meramec State Park with you in future editions. Only a short drive from my house, Meramec State Park offers endless opportunities for both wildlife and landscape photography.

Thanks for looking,

DB

Note to new subscribers:  I find it easiest to just use the back arrow to return to the text after clicking on images to view them at a larger size. Good luck!

10 comments on “Meramec State Park (Deer Hollow Trail)”

  1. The picture of the baby raccoon is rely nice.

    Thanks for the consistent “boot in the pants” to get out and photograph early in the morning.

    Bill

  2. Thanks for taking us along on that jaunt. I love that first image.

  3. Hey Danny, sounds like another productive and inspirational walk in the woods. As usual, I like them all with the mama and fawn getting my top vote. Looks like we are in for some more beautiful 70-degree temps next week. Enjoy your outings!

    ________________________________

    • Oh yea…..looking forward to the cold front. Hope the heat is gone for good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. I loved the shot of the baby raccoon in the tree, but I especially loved the photo of the Mommy Doe, and her Fawn. It was good that Joyce was with you, on your second trip. Good eye Joyce. Thanks for sharing Danny. I am off for Iowa again. I hope your weekend is good.

    Art

  5. Great shots, Danny! I love them all of course, but especially the first pic of the raccoon and the Doe and fawn. I love how a walk in the Missouri woods can be so full of excitement and surprise. Thanks for getting out there and taking these shots for us!

    • You bet Brenda; it was a great morning. Wait until you see the coyote shot I got about 10 minutes ago.


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