Why take the land route around the lake when you can take a shorter path in the water? At least that is one explanation why these deer are in the water.
The Shortcut was photographed on December 31, 2011 at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters Unit in northwest Louisiana. The time was after 10 AM. I had already given up on any nice bucks passing across the open field nearby, and thought maybe some waterfowl might be around the lake. After waiting and watching for any signs of ducks flying over, I happen to glance toward the shoreline and was surprised to see these deer casually strolling through the shallows. The lake water level was down quite a bit below normal due to the extremely dry and hot weather northwest Louisiana had been experiencing all year long. The deer were actually quite a ways off and didn’t even notice me. So I was able to take several images while they passed by. The only reason I took the images was the novelty of seeing the deer in the water. After all there were no bucks with racks in this bunch.
After getting home and downloading the day’s images, I chose The Shortcut as a keeper. But why did the image not look like anything special when it was taken? The light wasn’t all that great, the background pretty bland, and the deer were just passing through. But then I took another look and it became evident. The various horizontal layers of water and vegetation, some more subtle than others, plus the slightly out of focus sticks rising from the water in the foreground all add to the composition. But what really makes the image special is the light reflected off the lake illuminating the deer from below. Instead of deer in the dark shadows, we see deer with detailed bodies and facial features. And we can see the deer are all intently focused on something in front of them. Look at their ears and their eyes. From my position, I couldn’t see what they were concerned about. Perhaps a buck? Or perhaps a coyote? We’ll never know.
The Shortcut is one of over two dozen images taken at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge featured in the upcoming photo exhibit at Magale Library, Centenary College, Shreveport, Louisiana. The exhibit will run from June 1st and continue throughout the summer months during regular library hours. The exhibit is sponsored by the non-profit Friends of Red River National Wildlife Refuge group. The Friends group supports the Refuge in many ways, including promoting public awareness through such endeavors as this exhibit. The public is invited to the exhibit to see just a sampling of the wildlife and scenery that may be found on the Refuge. After viewing the exhibit, take the time to visit the Headquarters Unit across the river near the Jimmie Davis Bridge. Take Sunflower Road down to the rock road and follow the signs to the Visitor Center. Headquarters Unit has 650 acres of river bottom, open fields, marsh and an oxbow lake. There’s over 5 miles of trails, a main service road and a levee that are all available for walking or bike riding.