A Passion for Wildlife Photography (Part 9) Stalking your Prey


Prairie Dog
Prairie Dog. Approach low and slowly. Pausing periodically.

Stalking Techniques 

      • Emulate movements of subject. (For reindeer, a local guide suggested simulating antlers by holding tripod legs over our head.)
      • Move slowly, pause periodically, & make no sudden moves.
      • Keep a low profile to avoid appearing human and a threat.
      • Elephant seal.  Approached with low profile.
        Elephant seal. Approached with low profile.
      • Observe the animal’s movement. Don’t walk directly towards it. Move on an indirect route. Where possible, move in a direction to intersect the path the subject is taking.
      • Avoid wearing shiny objects, noisy clothing, perfumes, or anything that is not natural to their environment.
      • Avoid intense eye contact with the subject & loud noises.
      • Leave an escape route for the animal.
      • Don’t block its path. (I accidentally did this once and had an elk run its antlers into the tree where I had taken refuge.)
      • Animal curiosity can act in your favor.
      • Badger.  Approached careful and kept distance using 600 mm lens.  Only once when someone walked by me did it show signs of concern and briefly retreated to its burrow. Can be a nasty adversary.
        Badger. Approached careful and kept distance using 600 mm lens. Only once when someone walked by me did it show signs of concern and briefly retreated to its burrow. Can be a nasty adversary.
      • Photographing from the water seems to improve success in many cases where from a kayak, canoe, or wading.
      • No matter if in a national park or refuge, animal behavior is Use your longer lenses. If the animal feels threatened, it may attack you and the attack can be lethal.
      • Black Bear.  Shot from vehicle for safety reasons with long lens.
        Black Bear. Shot from vehicle for safety reasons with long lens.
      • Wearing camouflage clothes may be helpful since you better blend in with the surroundings. Like humans, animals can spot shapes and movements that are out of place. Literature says some but not all can detect colors so camouflage clothing may be a wise choice. In addition, camouflage clothing discourages approach by curious human who might disrupt your activities.
      • I believe in some cases talking softly in monotone can provide an animal with a sense of security. The tone is not threatening, and the animal has a good sense of your location and is more comfortable with your presence.
      • On windy days animals are often more nervous since noises can be confusing. It is harder for them to identify the direction noises and threats are coming from. This is not the case in places in South Texas where the wind blows constantly.
Moved into field taking a path that would intersect where the deer is moving.
Moved into field taking a path that would intersect where the deer is moving.