A JOURNEY INTO MY
PHOTOGRAPHY LIFE

A weekend as a Deer Hunter…

A weekend as a Deer Hunter...
My goal was to photograph some Red deer without having any knowledge about their behaviour, favourite spots or help from a local guide. Could this be in any way possible?

Red deer

The Red deer is the largest wild animal in Belgium, primarily found in the Walloon Region (Wallonia).

September and October are the perfect months to photograph Red deer because Autumn means mating season. At this time, Red deer stags start to wallow and roar (grunting, burlen in Dutch). This roaring call advertises their aggressiveness towards other males when they are guarding a harem of females. This sound is like a cross between a lion’s roar and a bull’s bellow and can sometimes lead to quite violent fights between males. I must confess that the first time I heard it, it went thru my spine and made my hair stand up on the back of my neck. Wow!

Sample of a roaring Red deer

This period is also the start of the hunting season, so be careful when and where you walk! Follow the signs or check online the dates and hours when hunters are active per area. Click here to view the timetable of the hunters in Saint-Hubert this year (2021).

Let’s Go!

Saint-Hubert is a city located in the province of Luxembourg, Belgium and well known by hunters for its large population of Red deer and other big-game wildlife. The city is recognized as the “European Capital of Hunting”.

Saint-Hubert
Saint-Hubert

For a week, my wife and I rented a small chalet in Awenne, a small village nearby Saint-Hubert. It was the perfect location for discovering the surrounding woods and experience nature in all its glory.

Chalet
Chalet

Awenne, and especially the chalet, is surrounded by woods, I mean really SURROUNDED BY WOODS! The large forest of Saint-Hubert or La grande Foret De Saint-Hubert is huge… You can walk for miles without encountering any human evidence.

But the weather was not on our side. After two days of continuous rain, nothing could tempt me to get out into the woods. Not that my equipment is well protected, but just because I don’t enjoy taking photos in the rain.

Walking boots
Walking boots

The rest of the days were cloudy with some sun, but at least it was dry. After hours of walking, I discovered a potential location because of the many animal tracks I saw in the mud, and they were big! But no luck, no deer to see.

Red deer footprint
Red deer footprint

I decided to come back the next day very early in the morning (5 am) and hide at a hunter stand nearby (lucky for me). Three hours later, I spotted some females. But like we all know, females in the animal world are not so attractive as the males, in contradiction to the human world!

Hunter stand
Hunter stand

Soon a stag appeared, and another one, and another one. I called myself a lucky guy that day… Let the shooting begin (without bullets)!

Deer scent stick
Deer scent stick

Some tips

To successfully encounter Red deer (from a distance)

Red deer are large and exceptionally powerful and can be dangerous if you approach them incorrectly. Especially during mating season!

Don’t use perfume, deodorant, or even better, don’t shower before going out into the woods. Deer can smell you from miles! And it is best to walk against the wind.

Don’t make noises or even talk during the walk/search.

Early in the morning or late in the evening are the best times to see Red deer.

Use the hunters stands to hide or protect yourself from encountering them. In Saint-Hubert, you can find them all over the place.

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Jean-Luc Godard