By Elam Stoltzfus
A 90-second video sponsored by WUSF featuring turkey, bears, and deer
In autumn many hunters take their bows, guns, orange safety vests and other paraphernalia and head into their mecca, the woods, to scout out the perfect location to nab a prize buck or turkey (it’s illegal to hunt bears in Florida).
As a young buck, I hunted white-tailed deer in the southern tier region of New York. When I picked up a camera, I traded the gun for a camera. Hunting with a camera includes the art of stalking: studying the species and understanding the social patterns of the creature.
Here in northwest Florida, white-tailed deer are prolific. After a hearty lunch of corn, some of our furry-tailed neighbors like to swing by my house for a dessert of roses. My wife’s roses are her pride and joy. She loves sharing roses with her friends—and not her furry friends. It is an ongoing battle to outsmart the deer: we have tried everything from an electronic water sprinkler—called a scarecrow—to white plastic rope that you spray with stink-spray to ward off Bambi, to even marking our territory by asking me and Nic to pee around the rose bed. Oh my.
Turkeys take skill to stalk and observe; they have keen eyesight and notice any movement. Behind our house is a tract of 30 acres of woodland—recently we have observed 7 turkeys coming through to forage and roost. Trying to film turkeys is a challenge, and if you can get quality footage of a turkey it is a great accomplishment.
Florida black bear is a species I don’t have much experience with. I continue to learn, observe, and read about the Florida black bear. Once, while up in a tree stand, I observed a mother bear and two cubs looking for food. They were on a constant lookout for any new smells and unusual movements; it was fascinating to just watch them.
All these species are signature wildlife in Florida. Turkey, bear, and deer can be observed in many areas across the wilds of Florida.