While on a recent photographer’s cross-country tour of Bhutan, my wife and I were enjoying the early morning panoramic view of the Tang valley, just after erecting our personal prayer flags. This was a magical place for us, and we had come to experience the unique culture without any expectations of seeing much wildlife.
Deer and the fox
We had all our camera gear with us and had just started to explore the village, when our guide, Dorji Longchula of Rainbow Tours and Treks, spotted a barking deer and a fox on the mountainside behind the village.
From the vantage point of the entrance to the Tang Ogyen Choling Palace, I raised my binoculars and spotted the deer and the fox, just looking at each other, about 10 metres apart on a trail coming down the mountain. The fox was uphill from the deer and it appeared he had been coming down, when he met the deer and the standoff began, neither willing to give way to the other.
Rather than trying to get closer and probably scare them away, I grabbed my longest telephoto lens and began shooting this rare wildlife encounter.
I live in Kingwood, Texas in the United States, and spend a lot of time in the great outdoors. I have seen plenty of deer and a few foxes, but I have never seen them staring at each other in a face-off to determine who would give way first. Not knowing what was going to happen next, I kept viewing them through the camera, taking pictures so as not to miss what was going to happen next. As I continued to watch, the deer and the fox would look at each other for a while, and then look away for a while.
Then suddenly the fox charged down the trail towards the deer! The deer crouched into a defensive mode and the fox kept coming at a full run. I thought for sure the deer was going to confront the fox and try to butt him with his horns, but at the last second they both veered to the right and ran past each other. The fox continued down the trail into the open field at the bottom, and the deer hightailing it up the trail. The fox glanced back to make sure he wasn’t being followed.
Everything then went back to normal, the deer continued grazing up the trail on the mountainside, the fox continued on his journey and peace reigned again in the Tang valley.
This was a beautiful sight to see and one with a happy ending.
This amazing experience was one among many during our Bhutan adventure and fortunately I got more than a memory in my mind, I got these pictures to share with the people of Bhutan.
by David Emerson