Its something we all deal with, whether it be simply crossing a highway, or heading out into the boonies to shoot landscape. A lot has been written about the hazards that the weather can bring, so its my intention to bring up another hazard. Animals that could do you harm.
In my many years in the field, I have been rattled at numerous times, and when you are in high grass and can’t see the little guy, I tend to get very nervous. (Hint: if ever in such a situation, extend your tripod legs and begin gently probing the grass in such a manner as to find the snake and move him slowly along, always ready, of course, to begin swinging the tripod frantically like an axe while screaming “DIE, DIE, DIE….)
I have met a bear coming at me on the trail in the near dark in Jasper NP in Canada. That was a little tense for a brief few seconds, but I managed to come away clean (meaning my health and my shorts). I have been stalked by mountain lions; I always felt they were more curious than aggressive.
However snakes and bears and lions are the topic for another day. I have to say, categorically, the most frightened I have ever been while attempting to shoot a picture was because of Bulls. Male cows. These guys are massively huge, and predictable, and by that I mean, predictably mean. Really pay attention on frozen mornings. Bulls seem to really get wound up when they get cold.
I have been charged three times in 20 years, and have learned to pay attention when they start getting noisy. Once he’s bleating like someone stuck him with something, its usually a very short time before he starts pawing the ground. And if you’re still standing there while he’s doing that, you’ve most likely waited too long. He’s way faster than you are, not to mention the size of some efficiency apartments (OK, a small efficiency). And don’t start thinking you can shoot him like he’s a bear or a lion, because I can guarantee that he’s some ranchers’ prize stud and you’ll probably end up paying not only for the cow, but for all the offspring he could never then produce.
I bring this all up, because of todays image. The area where I shot this is grazed by some kind of longhorn/ hybrid Longhorn. These guys aren’t really all that big as cows go, but they have massive horns, and register as fairly wild on the Open-Range-Wild-O-Meter. While this monsoon storm was developing, one of these Longhorn bulls began to get tangled up in a mesquite thicket about 60 meters away, and became progressively agitated as he realized his dilemma. “With All Due Malice” was my last image of the sequence, as I grabbed the tripod and ran when he started thrashing and tearing up the bushes to get free. After that the rain came and I was done shooting. Just to be clear, he didn’t charge me; I just exercised some discretion. No sense being near something that big and that angry. So be careful out there, no matter what the picture might be, dying isn’t worth it. I can tell you from experience, you forget about the picture really fast when he faces you and puts those horns down.