Summer with Brown Hares
I have to say, the hares get my attention this summer. At the time before the roe deer rut, when I was walking around a few localities and watching its onset, I came across quite a few hares on one of them. The hares stay very close to the forest and forest paths. I tried to observe and take pictures of them in past. But didn't have luck with the location. They stay on the large fields and meadows. Getting close and play with the environment in a photo made it quite difficult. Here I sensed hope and opportunity. And I chose a slightly different tactic than usual.
I decided to scout the place perfectly. Get on place light with camo suit and binoculars only. I explore the place several times. Without a heavy camera and tripod, I feel more inconspicuous. I easily managed to explore bigger areas and perfectly map their habits. Places where they like to stay and the time when they are most active. I also tested how close I can get and how most effectively I can hide. I looked for a few places where it would be best to take photos. With knowledge from previous visits, I went to the place an hour earlier " before their time" and waited. And I must say that the preparation paid off. They sat and fed even at a distance my 500mm Nikon PF was unable to focus. They run in my direction and pass me without knowing I'm there. I come at this location 3-4 more times and tried to capture them in the most interesting light.
Unfortunately, my enthusiasm was soon replaced by harvest time. As more free space was given to them, they often spend most of their time at freshly cut fields. This minimized my chances of getting closer and the surrounding environment didn't work that well in pictures. I will definitely come back and photograph them in autumn colors, and if the winter will give us some snow, I will definitely be there.
Finally, I would like to share a few tips on how to photograph hares.
- Preparation is crucial. Find out as much information as you can about the animal and deeply explore the location where you will want to take pictures. Hares like to stay in certain places and return there regularly.
- Try to find a location near the forest where there is enough juicy vegetation, which they like to eat. They will be happy to return and spend a lot of time here.
- They are active in the summer months 2 to 3 hours before sunset and the same after sunrise. This will give you plenty of time to take a lot of photos. In addition, the low and soft light will add a wonderful mood to your pictures.
- You don't need a photo blind. Just go low to the ground and minimize your movement. A camouflage net or something similar will definitely help, but it is not necessary. It also depends on how the vegetation in the given location will help you to disguise and how long you can last steady. A tall silhouette of a man in the landscape and your movement will scare hares most. If you stay low enough, there is a possibility that the hare will not see you at all, even from 1-2 meters.
Following hare, after I spot him has never worked for me. In most cases, the animal will notice you, and even if it does not run away from you immediately, it will be clear from its behavior that he notices you and will not allow you to get much closer. I've found that hares are not very curious. They do not react with interest to new things in their area. Deer and foxes immediately notice that there is something a little different. Photo blind or even something smaller like you hiding behind camo net gets easy their attention. Hares devote themselves to their activities and they really don't pay so much attention to what changed after their last visit. Honestly, even if you would put a cardboard orange box in the middle of a meadow, I believe they would completely ignore it. They are not very smart and observant. They respond mostly to the current situation only. If you scare them, they will run away and return in a short time. Without any caution, from what happened in past, they will continue the activity they performed before.
- I used both Nikon Z6 with the silent shutter and Nikon D500. I noticed that some hares reacted to the sound of the shutter and ran away, but most of them - more than 80% completely ignored the D500 shutter noise. Of course, it's better not to shoot 10fps all the time like from a machine gun: D
.... and most of all, enjoy. Not every trip needs to end with a card fulfilled by perfect shots. Once you enjoy your trips just for the time you spent in nature, great pictures will come.