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A Fawn in the Woods

Wild Animal Safari, Strafford, MO Aug 16, 2006 — I found this fawn resting quietly in captivity in MO, but it reminds me of my most special backpacking memory. Our family of four decided to go on our first backpacking trip together. We were living about two hours from Yosemite National Forest, our children were in grade school and ready for adventure. We were aiming for great scenery, few people, and as many critters as could be safely seen. So we headed for a place called the Chain of Lakes.


After couple of days of hiking up an incline we bed down in a high alpine valley at an elevation around 9500.’ The area was breathtakingly beautiful and very suitable for spending the night. The valley floor had great dry grass, and there was a grove of trees to protect us from the wind. We were high and were preparing for cold night air.


My wife and I overloaded our backpacks and under-loaded our son’s backpacks. At least at the end of the day, they seemed like they had much more energy than we did, but alas, they went to sleep pretty fast after our dinner.


About midnight the family was totally out, and the most fantastic thing happened. Two worlds collided. We saw a great valley filled with tallish grass, and then some trees for shelter with virtually no grass. What a perfect camping place. The deer herd saw something much different. This deer herd didn’t see the tall grass, nor did they see the trees, nor did they see us, they only saw or at least, only cared about the very short, and apparently very tasty young shoots which were emerging between the trees, and yes even between our sleeping bags.


I don’t know how you recognize animals, but over the years I have found that the more ways you can figure out what animals are around you the better. Animals looks, smell, and even sound different in the forest. And things seem to go better if you know they are there, before they know you are there. This night, it didn’t matter.


I woke up to the sound of deer. Not large deer, but deer of the smaller variety. And the sound was not that of running, but that of pawing a little, and nibbling a little. It was fantastic. Now at first I merely opened my eyes and accessed the situation. We were surrounded, but there wasn’t an aggressive…or shy emotion around us. We merely fell asleep on their lunch counter, and they seemed to be most willing to put up with us.


I lay there quietly from midnight to four a.m. silently enthralled with the situation. Didn’t want to move, didn’t want to speak, just wanted to enjoy. Then the inevitable happened, my oldest son stirred. I carefully watched, and was ready to comfort. Pretty soon, the somewhat emotional whisper came out of the blue… “Dad, dad.”


“I see them son, they’ve been here for four hours.” Josh replied, “One of them’s sleeping next to me.” He went on, “It’s a baby, I touched it when I reached for my canteen!” From that point on, there were two Purcells watching the two worlds connect.


Eventually the deer were fed, the sun came up, and we were on our way with a big smile on our faces, having experienced just a part of the joy the world around us can bring.


Calendar for photographers


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I imported and tagged the photo with Photo Mechanic. I used Adobe Lightroom for adding color profiles and basic adjustments. I spruced-up the image using the Topaz plug-ins: Denoise, Detail, Adjust, and Simplify, then touched-up the image using Adobe Photoshop.



smc PENTAX-DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL

ISO 1600, ƒ8, 1/350


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Taken on August 16, 2006