As normally (and unfortunately) happens at Great Sand Dunes National Park, the mule deer meander through the campground looking for sloppy campers who’ve left food out that they can steal. While it’s cool to see these creatures wandering through each day, it’s sad because they have gotten so used to people that some are a little too tame. All that said, it doesn’t stop me from carefully taking advantage of the situation for photography reasons.
Every day during our stay, the deer came through the camp around dinner time like clockwork. I’m not sure what the various campsite “neighbors” had left in their fire ring, but the deer loved it for some reason and kept coming back. And they didn’t just wander through – they hung out for 30-60 minutes each night until they naturally strolled off or something scared them.
The lighting conditions that time of day were mixed, but I did have enough low-hanging tree branches to act as a blind so I was able to get some shots as they came through the campsite next door and wound their way through the grassy fields on their way to start their evening of grazing and bouncing through the sand. (Look closely each morning when you walk on the Dunes and you’ll see their tracks all over the place, especially down by the water.)
Of the 800+ images I took during our trip, probably 500 were rapid-fire shots of these deer to see if I could get anything good. I ditched he vast majority of those deer shots during post-processing because, really, how many shots of mule deer can one girl keep?! But there were a couple that stood out and caught my eye as I flipped through them for a very particular reason.
Because my first pass at picture sorting is done so quickly to weed out the good & decent from the bad & horrible shots, it can be like watching a stop-action movie when I get to sequences of high-speed shooting. When I reached the various series of deer pictures, I stumbled on a few shots that I thought would make amusing GIFs. I’d never made a GIF before from scratch, so I tried my hand at it and I think I came up with a couple of short & cute ones…
For whatever reason, I always like to think that animals are smarter and have more attitude than most would give them credit for. I think these 2 GIFs capture that sentiment perfectly!