I hunt. I hunt deer. I hunt them with rifle, bow or camera. I am proud to be each kind of deer hunter. My love affair with deer hunting began when I was a child watching my parents getting geared up to go deer hunting, then anxiously waiting for them to get back home, hopefully with a buck. I loved hearing the stories of the hunts. I couldn’t wait to turn 14, the minimum legal age for deer hunting when I was a boy. The various youth hunts of recent years did not exist then, but when I was 12, my parents started to allow me to come along on their hunting expeditions in the sand dune area of what is now the Nordhouse Dunes Federal Wilderness. My family hunted from dawn to dark. Most of our time was spent sitting alone in fox holes with small charcoal fires in five-pound coffee cans to keep us from freezing to death. It was a great training ground for outdoor photography, which in my early years of hunting I had no idea I would become interested in someday. In between the fleeting moments of adrenaline rush upon spotting a deer and perhaps attempting to bag it, I spent untold hours perched high atop a sand dune taking in and learning to know and appreciate the spectacular dune landscape surrounding me for as far as the eye could see. The deer hunting quest, the incredible view, and even the fresh air ramming into my lungs made me feel most alive. Some of the greatest adrenaline rushes of my life have continued to involve stalking deer with rifle, bow or camera. But my greatest joy in hunting has derived from simply being in the outdoors, studying the landscape, learning to better see and appreciate its beauty, learning to be prepared, comfortable and at home there, having Mother Nature remind me time after time that this is where I belonged and still belong. In recent years, I have enjoyed spending a lot of time in hunting blinds with my camera. For the past several years, Brad and I have been blessed to have a wonderful business/friendship relationship with Legends Ranch near Bitely, Michigan, one of the finest whitetail deer hunting ranches in North America. Manager Robert Sergi and his highly skilled staff have treated us like family, giving us widespread access to their more than 2,000 acres of hunting land. My son Brad and I knew exactly which blind we wanted to be in on this Christmas card morning in 2016. The pine background of Strip Blind provided a beautiful, contrasting background for the falling snow. If a deer came out close enough, it would be framed against the contrasting snow on the ground. We saw several bucks that morning, a couple of them with much larger racks. Brad was photographing a massive buck to our right when I spotted a buck with a smaller but picture-perfect rack coming out from our left only 30 yards away. The shot I had been making in my mind for many years was materializing. Perhaps scenting us or hearing Brad’s shutter fire as he photographed the other buck, the wary buck stopped, looking in our direction. I fired. My “Legendary” experience making the wintertime deer photograph of my dreams was made. The buck walked on.


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