I spend a lot of time in the vast forests of the Vrancea and have been very lucky to meet one of the local rangers called Andras. He regularly invites me on early morning excursions in search of wildlife.
The deer rut lasts for a month and starts around September 10th. Andras and I met at 4.30am and then drove to the highest point within the Vrancea. We then walked for about an hour to a plateau where we knew there would be a good chance to hear and view stags fiercely protecting their hinds against other invading stags.
Although we are looking for deer Andras is always armed as the same territory is shared by bear, wild boar and wolves. The chances of 'bumping' into them are rare but cannot be ruled out. On occasion we hear the ‘crack’ of a branch nearby. The procedure is to stop and face where the noise came from, stand in total silence until whatever is there walks away or decides to confront us. Andras carries some serious fire power, and attaches a large flash light to the barrel of his gun. If a bear or boar charged us in darkness it would get one huge halogen warning before bullets started flying!
In the photo above we are about 20 metres from two hinds. Unfortunately my inadequate camera was not capable of focusing on them at such a distance in low light. They had no idea we were there until I got cramp, moved slightly and gave our position away. The hinds then gave a deep throated warning 'bark' and fled. We really need a good photographer to come here and capture all this. I believe I could take reasonable pictures with the right camera, but I know there is far more to wildlife photography than point and shoot.
Here I am standing on a stump in one of the few man made clearings. Often these are the best places to see deer as the area cleared is replaced by grass and other plants which are unable to grow under the forest canopy. We also found large blackberry bushes and stopped to eat, always scanning around us as these berries are a favourite with bears too!