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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Wildlife Talk 
Thread started 30 Oct 2012 (Tuesday) 12:45
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Protective Gear and other necessities?

 
sgribbin
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Location: Florida, US
     
Oct 30, 2012 12:45 |  #1

Hi everyone! I am a novice hobbyist and I really enjoy photographing wildlife, as you can see on Flickr; most of everything I shoot is wildlife or nature. I don't have much camera gear yet (see my signature), and so far, I have not ventured more than 15 miles from my house alone for photography. However, I am becoming more brave as I venture alone close to home and I am planning two separate visits to two different nature trails within 45 miles from my home. The two trails I am planning to visit are known for their wildlife opportunities including gators, bison, wild horses, eagles, various birds, raccoon, black bear, snakes, and white-tailed deer. When I go out shooting, I carry/dress light: dressed in jeans, sneakers, dark colored shirt, my camera in hand with neck strap worn, my zoom lens on the camera, cell phone silenced in one front pants pocket; car keys in the other front pants pocket; lens cap in back pants pocket. I don't normally wear or carry a back pack or camera bag, because I normally don't have a need for one. I always let my husband know when I've reached a trail, where I am, etc so that in the event something happens, he can hopefully get to me or find me. We also have iPhones, so he can search for my phone and see where I am to make sure I'm ok. I don't have hiking boots (yet) nor do I carry any protective gear (walking stick, pepper spray, etc). Since mosquitoes are active all year here in Florida, I normally will spray myself with a coating of insect repellent before leaving the car. The furthest I have ventured out on a trail away from my car is about a mile and a half. The two trails I'm planning to venture soon are each about 2 miles round trip.

For those of you more experienced at trekking nature trails alone (especially the women here), do you normally carry protective gear or other necessities? I am just wondering if I should be "more protected" or "more ready" for unknown dangers? I do plan to get a good pair of hiking boots as soon as I can for better protective foot gear while walking natural terrain. And yes, a better lens is also in budget for after the first of the year! :)

Thanks in advance for reading and commenting.


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Hardrock40
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Oct 31, 2012 01:05 |  #2

I would say the boots or snake chaps (if that what they are called) would be high on the list. A gun may be a no no there but a good knife on the hip wouldn't hurt.

Protection from wildlife shouldn't be a concern. Just watch where you step and look ahead.

Of course we don't know the area. Talk to your local police and game management to see if there has ever been any problems (people problems) in the area. At least you won't venture into party central and run up on a bunch of drunks.

I would keep an eye on the place where you will park and see who may be hanging around. Never stop (the car) if someone is behind you and try not to let anybody see you get out and hit the trail alone.

Stalking slow for two miles will take all day and scare off most wildlife before you get a shot. Maybe decide on targets you want and go into the best location then sit and wait for them to come to you. I would get off the trail so any passer by's (people) wouldn't see you.

Once you get some good locations picked out, maybe you could bait (bird food) or whatever (deer corn) in the area where you can get a close shot. I would make those as close as possible to the car. Then you could drop by more often. Having said that, you don't want to be predictable to people by letting them know what days and times you usually show up. Mix it up.

Don't just walk right out of the woods while going back to your car. Stop back a ways, listen and look the area over before you just walk right out.

You probably have nothing to worry about and already know the area. But get the local sheriff's number or whoever polices the area so you can call if someone is hanging around you vehicle and you don't want to come out or feel you being followed. They can respond quicker than hubby 45 miles away.

Have fun and don't get caught up waiting for that great shot, get out before dark. Post some pics!!!




  
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sgribbin
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Oct 31, 2012 10:32 as a reply to  @ Hardrock40's post |  #3

Thank you so much for the reply Hardrock40! You gave me some great advice of things I had not thought of, as well as reiterated some things that I already do. Although I am a little nervous of wildlife (we have a lot of black bear and venomous snakes in this area), it is actually people that make me the most nervous because of my being alone in wilderness. I guess my nervousness stems from tragic stories we all hear all the time. However, in my profession I deal with people from all walks of life for a living, so when I do encounter someone while out shooting, I always make direct eye contact, smile, say "hello" in my friendly, but professional manner; basically to let them know that I know they're there, I'm not afraid, and to look "confident" so that they hopefully, continue on their journey.

The trails that I have ventured on thus far are trails heavily trafficked by people. I like to get on the trails just before or at sunrise and I usually only stay out on the trails for a couple of hours because wildlife seek the protection of the woods; not to mention the more shaded and cooler areas to rest.

The most recent trail I ventured on is only 5 miles from my house and I was hoping that on an early cool Sunday morning that there would not be anybody there; however, that was not the case. In fact, after venturing about 1/2-3/4 mile out, I encountered a man and his frolicking Labrador Retriever (for the record, it frustrates me when people bring their dogs onto a nature trail; guarantees no wildlife to be seen :rolleyes: ). At that point I let them pass and I proceeded to leave the trail. There is one small County lakeside park that I go to that has the potential to be "unsafe" due to tall brush/reeds blocking the view between the "park side" and the "lake side" where I normally go out and shoot birds. The parking lot is beside the main road; my car can be seen easily by anyone driving by and I am usually the only one out there. I am always on high alert listening for anyone driving up or walking up, which hasn't happened yet. There are a couple of parks/nature trails in our area that have had problems with vagrants and sex crimes; I of course stay away from those places. I always take my time in returning to my car; stopping along the way and before exiting the trail to make certain of a safe return.

I do my research before venturing; going online and studying the trail map, viewing photographs taken of the trail and around the trail, as well as reading what others post about their experience there. One of the trails I plan to visit is one of our State Park trails; so it's managed pretty well and there is a ranger station nearby. You must pay to enter and therefore, most party-goers/drunks do not visit the State Park trails. I also plan to visit both trails on weekdays, when most people are at work.

It's interesting that you said stalking the trail can scare away wildlife, because this is very similar of how I have been "hunting" for wildlife. I lightly and slowly walk about 20-40 feet and then stop, listen, and look up, down, and all around me...standing in one spot sometimes for 5-10 minutes before moving again...It's how I was able to find a raccoon I recently shot. I am very patient and quiet when out shooting. I have wondered about finding a spot off of a trail to basically sit and wait, but since I don't have hiking boots/snake boots yet to protect from snake bite, I have not braved going off the trails.

I have considered taking deer corn with me to bait the areas I know where deer are abundant; haven't done it yet though.

As for some photos I have captured thus far in my nature trail treks, here some samples:

IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8193/8098133009_a5893a9624_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …s/lifespoetry/8​098133009/  (external link)
Beauty & The Flower (external link) by sgribbin (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8334/8083484133_cd42a049a7_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …s/lifespoetry/8​083484133/  (external link)
A Doe, A Deer...(2) (external link) by sgribbin (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8468/8081329013_d39a1b7fae_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …s/lifespoetry/8​081329013/  (external link)
Changing Positions (external link) by sgribbin (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8473/8129239193_65fec8e89e_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …s/lifespoetry/8​129239193/  (external link)
Take Two (external link) by sgribbin (external link), on Flickr

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Nature ­ Nut
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Nov 01, 2012 00:03 |  #4

Nice captures you have there.

For my ventures out heres a few things I do:

-No valuables left in car when I am on the trail
- Always bring a hat for rain, sun, ticks, and much more
- Always bring some 550 cord for general repair and such
- Always bring water and a small first aid kit, and a small roll of TP (cleaning and nature calls)
- I toss my keys and wallet in my backpack so they dont fall out if im doing something.
- A good knife for all sorts of stuff. Unless your trained to use them dont plan on it for people defense.
- And lastly I strap on my moonpod to my backpack and toss in an extra battery or two

A few other things I take on my longer adventures (5-10 miles)
- Poncho, ultralight hammock (for an all day trip), lunch or snacks, GPS to mark cool secret spots (I dont use trails too often), A compass and topo map as needed, A flashlight, and a couple gallon ziplock bags.

Overall, I wouldnt worry too much about people in the woods, I've yet to meet a truly creepy person out there but I am sure they are somewhere, just use common sense and good judgement. As for Black Bears i wouldnt worry about them either, your more likely to die from a snake bite than a Black Bear. Even snakes are not a huge danger, they often give plenty of warning before they strike. And you seem to be very alert to your surroundings. If you get good enough maybe you can stalk a Florida Panther and share those shots with us :)


Adam - Upstate NY:

  
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Snydremark
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Nov 01, 2012 00:45 |  #5

I'd strongly urge that you start taking a backpack, even a small one, to carry the items that Adam listed above, plus some spare clothing and food/water. I'd also go with a slight change in clothing for being out, farther away; synthetics, like REI's quickdry clothing (pants/shirts/etc), instead of jeans. Chances are fine that you'll be fine; but, if something goes wrong and you land in water, etc, cotton will stay wetter longer and draw a lot more body heat off of you than the synthetics will. I'd also pick up some light, compact rain gear that can be packed in there, too.

So, proper clothing will greatly increase your ability to be ok IF something goes wrong.

In addition to the items that Adam listed, I would strongly suggest adding a few more items to your kit:
An emergency whistle
A signal mirror
One of those magnesium, fire starter "keys" and some flammable tinder material (a bundle of dryer lint, sealed in one of the ziplock bags that he mentions is a good, light, compact, starter material if the surroundings aren't quite dry enough.


- Eric S.: My Birds/Wildlife (external link) (7D MkII/5D IV, Canon 10-22 f/3.5-4.5, Canon 24-105L f/4 IS, Canon 70-200L f/2.8 IS MkII, Canon 100-400L f/4.5-5.6 IS I/II)
"The easiest way to improve your photos is to adjust the loose nut between the shutter release and the ground."

  
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Hardrock40
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Nov 01, 2012 00:47 |  #6

Nice photos, looks like you already have your act together. A deer that close has been on my list for some time. Congrats on the shots.

I like Nuts list pretty good. Especially the hammock, snacks even for a short hike. The hammocks are the bomb. We take em everywhere.

If your new to them and thinking about buying one, get a double size, they even sell triple and they are still light. Always take some extra cord as Adam suggest as you might need to reach a tree where the hammock straps are too short.

They go up in a couple minutes and are great just for sitting off the ground. The large size allows you to sit in it all kinds of ways. We have a triple you can lay cross ways in. We started out with single size and didn't realize the comfort we was missing but we also spend nights in them.

Adam hit the nut on the head with that suggestion. Once you use it, you won't leave home without it.




  
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Snydremark
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Nov 01, 2012 00:50 |  #7

Got a link to the hammocks you're using?


- Eric S.: My Birds/Wildlife (external link) (7D MkII/5D IV, Canon 10-22 f/3.5-4.5, Canon 24-105L f/4 IS, Canon 70-200L f/2.8 IS MkII, Canon 100-400L f/4.5-5.6 IS I/II)
"The easiest way to improve your photos is to adjust the loose nut between the shutter release and the ground."

  
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Hardrock40
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Nov 01, 2012 02:06 |  #8

Snydremark wrote in post #15193352 (external link)
Got a link to the hammocks you're using?

She has and likes this one, I like it also.

http://www.hammockblis​s.com/hammock-bliss-triple (external link)

But I have this one.

http://www.campmor.com …i_gpa=pla&ci_kw​={keyword} (external link)

Hmmm, the link isn't working for campmor but it is green with brown edges, called double bliss




  
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Snydremark
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Nov 01, 2012 09:23 |  #9

Thanks, I'll check 'em out


- Eric S.: My Birds/Wildlife (external link) (7D MkII/5D IV, Canon 10-22 f/3.5-4.5, Canon 24-105L f/4 IS, Canon 70-200L f/2.8 IS MkII, Canon 100-400L f/4.5-5.6 IS I/II)
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Tom ­ Reichner
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Nov 01, 2012 10:46 |  #10

sgribbin, that deer photo is wonderful - I love the light and background!

As for preparations when hiking about, it just may be possible that you are overthinking things a bit. I walk off away from the roads and trails quite frequently, and honestly have never encountered anything that I needed to be protected from. The "dangers" out there are probably far more rare than most folks think.

Just make sure you have water with you, if you are going to be away from the car long enough to get thirsty. And a spare battery, fully charged, for your camera. Maybe some type of wildlife call (any call will do) so that you can toot on it softly to get an animal to turn its head and look at the camera.

Usually there's no need for hiking boots, as street shoes are completely adequate for most any trail situation (I wear penny loafers and they are great in the outdoors). If you want to walk in swampy areas, then knee high rubber boots are invaluable.

If it gets cold or rainy, well, it sounds like you'll only be a couple miles from the car, so you can always just walk back to it to get warm and dry.

Hiking a few miles back into nature may just be easier and more carefree than you thought!


"Your" and "you're" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
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Nature ­ Nut
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Nov 01, 2012 18:35 |  #11

Snydremark wrote in post #15193352 (external link)
Got a link to the hammocks you're using?

Heres a link, I got mine on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com …keywords=grand+​trunk+camo (external link)

I use the grand trunk ultralight and a two pack of 250lbs cam buckle straps from wally world. I also own the Grand trunk double which is nice and the hammock bliss triple listed earlier. For hiking I like the single for its weight and the camo which doubles as a blind while your relaxing waiting for critters to pass by. When I am out with a lady friend or at a park, I will take my double or my triple as they are substantially heavier.

I went with the cam straps after a few outings. I am by no means knot-deficient, but using the cam straps I can put up the hammock in about 30 seconds or less which gives me more time to be lazy. I replaced the end ropes with triple strand 550 cord as well, I trust that more than the supplied nylon rope which can stretch and wear or rot more readily.

For fire starters, though I cant recommend much else of his:rolleyes:, the Bear Grylls one is very nice and built well and the rod is protected from breaking. It is gerber after all. it also has a whistle built into the strap. Once you start a fire with it, you will be addicted. With the firestarter strap I noose the neck on the a small asprin bottle filled with cotton balls and saturated with mineral oil (baby oil) they burn each for about 5-7 minutes. Vasoline works well too

http://www.amazon.com …keywords=bear+g​rylls+fire (external link)

Additionally if your not taking waterproof boots, be sure to bring a spare pair of socks. But overall itll depend on how deep in the woods you go as to what you may need. Signal mirrors are hit or miss for me, they are useful but I think they rely on too many factors (clear skies & good line of sight). A good fire will get attention and a good whistle will too.


Adam - Upstate NY:

  
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sgribbin
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Nov 01, 2012 19:07 |  #12

Wow... I am so excited by all of your replies! Thank you for the compliments of my photos! I hadn't thought of a backpack until recently when I was out for nearly for 3 1/2 hours at a State Park in my area (where I captured the deer). I had to leave by 11:30 because it was getting warm and I began feeling the need for water. You all gave me great advice and suggestions of items I never knew of (like the hammock) and items I wondered of (like a whistle). Tom, I know I'm probably over thinking things some, but I just want to be prepared, and I wasn't certain if I hike "smartly". I appreciate the clothing advice too. As for valuables, i don't leave anything easily accesible or visible. Thank you to everyone for taking time to make a list and comment. I feel athat I'm going to be much better prepared when I am able to venture on these trails soon; and I'm no longer as nervous about "creepy" people as I was before. :)


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bernard0368
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Jan 17, 2013 04:55 |  #13

If you have a smart phone enable the Gps on it. Over here in Ireland we mountain rescue guys can use it to locate you within 10m. I am sure they would have something similar.
Nice butterfly shot.


Canon 7D, , canon 100L macro,28-135 is, nifty fifty, canon 100-400L. canon 70-200L and lots of bits and pieces

  
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sgribbin
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Jan 17, 2013 06:40 as a reply to  @ bernard0368's post |  #14

Thank you for the comment and compliment of the butterfly photo. Yes, I use an iPhone and have actually been looking at some of the trail apps that use GPS as a compass as well to get back to the trail if I venture off of it. I also just recently purchased a Case Logic backpack so that I can take some things with me out hiking as well. :)


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