This year, with travel options limited, I was asked once again by Wildife Worldwide to lead dedicated deer photography workshops in the heart of the New Forest. With permission from Forestry England, I led a number of workshops alongside Ben Sutcliffe.
We had some crazy weather, but some great deer encounters with the red deer during the rut. Unlike the deer parks of London, these deer are completely wild and it takes patience to slowly make an approach. The key thing is to ensure that you don't sneak up on them and that they know where you are, while also being aware of the wind direction.
Anyway, here are just a few shots from my time in the forest.
After some incredible misty action, we were treated to incredible evening action too. It is fabulous to witness this behaviour and enjoy the most remarkable lighting - combine that with a mist and you can't really get it any better.
It was an absolute honour to lead a number of workshops and I was delighted for the clients who got some brilliant images.
We hope to run some more workshops in 2022, but it will depend on my availability. Please get in touch if you want to find out more.
I am always astounded at the lack of knowledge regarding local wildlife, this really hit me during the annual deer rut when I said I was going to the New Forest to photograph Red Deer. People didn't believe me, saying that there aren't any wild Red Deer in the south of the UK except for on Exmoor.
Well I was determined to show them that there are in fact Red Deer only a stones throw from Southampton and Bournemouth. I spent a couple of weekends searching for this native deer species and was in luck.
As I reached my usual patch for the Fallow Deer, I heard a deer barking, but this was no Fallow Deer buck. This was an altogether deeper sound that resonated through the trees. I headed to the edge of the woodland, where the sound came from, and to my delight there were two large stags strutting their stuff.
This was the scene I was presented with (above) and then spent the next two hours stalking the larger of the two stags and his group of females. I had to work hard and a constantly changing wind direction made life particularly difficult.
The Red Deer of the New Forest are quite transient but are only found in the South Western side of the forest, sadly their population is controlled to stop interbreeding with the introduced Sika Deer found near Beaulieu. I was extremely lucky to get this close to such large wild mammals in the UK but I would like to stress this series of images took over 3 hours to capture, with long periods of stalking required.
If you see any deer in the New Forest, please don't walk straight towards them, instead make sure the wind is in your favour and keep yourself hidden. It is usually best to let the wildlife come to you, be patient and above all just enjoy what you see.