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Getting Close to Wild Animals
I like being around wild animals and taking pictures of them. Usually I try to get close and I am pretty good at it. Sometimes when I am alone taking pictures someone else will come along and scare the animals away. I have had animals walk towards me while getting away from the other person. Simply walking or running up to the animals does not usually work. If you like being around wild animals or just want to get some good pictures you might find these tips useful. They can help you approach a wild animal without making them feel threatened.
Keep in mind that I live in Ontario, Canada. The animals in your area may be different but the tips should still help you.
Good Places to Find Animals
Walking through the woods might seem like a good idea to find animals. However I rarely see animals in the woods. When I have seen animals in the woods it was brief. Most of my animal sightings have been when the animal was in the open.
If you go to the right places you can often see wild animals near the road. Trails through the woods can be good to. Most of my animal photos were taken near a road while I was biking. Parks are good for finding larger animals like deer. With the provincial parks in my area it is often easier to find deer when they are in a field or crossing a road. It is usually easier to get closer to animals in parks because they see people often.
Swamps are great places to find small animals like turtles, swans and geese. You can often find bird nests and watch the baby birds grow up over time. There are lots of swamps near roads. I have also had good luck near shorelines. You can find a large variety of birds and other animals near or in the water.
Animals often go to the same places. Sometimes you can find their paths. So it is possible to figure out the most likely places to see them. I have trouble finding wild turkey when I go into the woods but I can often find them in a field near my home in the afternoon.
To get close to wild animals you can stay hidden or you can show them you are not a threat. I have also seen people get close to them by just walking or even running towards them. However this will cause the animal to run away or possibly attack you.
Simply staying still can sometimes make you unnoticeable. After seeing a young rabbit while on a path in the woods I stood still. The rabbit continued up the path towards me until he was close enough I could hear him chewing. Then he continued to make his way past me. If the rabbit had seen me first he would have most likely ran off.
Moving slowly and gradually getting closer reduces the chance of animals running away from you. You should also be quite. If the animal show signs of being nervous you should stop approaching it. Once the animal relaxes more it may move closer to you.
Baby animals are often easier to get closer to. While their parents keep watch the babies are often carefree. If you do not scare them they may wander closer to you especially if you stay as still as possible. Some animals may attack if they start to consider you a threat. Pay attention to both the babies and the parents.
Some animals can remember you. If you have a bird feeder and the birds see you often enough you can get closer and closer to the ones that come back regularly. Make a nice impression if you want to get close next time you see the animal.
Some moments will not happen again. Taking pictures is a good way to capture the moment. You can show other people what you have seen and look at the pictures to refresh your memory. Looking at the pictures can be relaxing. I also recommend taking videos.
Looking through the lens and focusing on taking picture is not quite as relaxing or enjoyable as taking in the moment. Try not to spend the whole encounter taking pictures. If you have a lot of photos they are good for making slideshows. You can make a slideshow video and upload it to sites like youtube.
Some of My Favorite Close Encounters
1. Seeing a moose while canoeing in Algonquin Provincial Park. The moose did not consider us a threat and came closer to us while it was eating.
2. While on a path in Presquile Provincial Park I heard what I thought was a deer. Staying quite I waited for it to come out of the woods. A coyote came out right beside me and we surprise each other. It was only an arms length away. After a brief growl it ran away.
3. I found a Canada Geese family with young babies in a sandy clearing near the water. As I was watching them and taking pictures another family of canada geese came out of the woods.
4. Watching baby geese near the lake shore at Presquile. The babies often wander closer to me. Once someone tried walking up to them and the whole family walked right to me before going into the water and swimming away.
5. Watching mute swans, especially the babies.
6. Watching a very large snapping turtle crossing the road
7. Watching a young rabbit as it ate right beside me falling for my impersonation of a tree.