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Photographing animals is an exciting part of nature photography. Photographing wild animals is similar to hunting, yet your prey survives to live another day. First, you will need to find wildlife.

After you find local areas in which to photograph wildlife — likely state parks and nature preserves — you need to find the wildlife, such as the deer shown. Sometimes you get lucky and find a spot that is loaded with wildlife. Much more often, you have to search for wildlife.


Here are six things you can do to find wildlife when visiting a state park:

  • Ask a park ranger. The easiest way to learn about the wildlife in a state park is to ask someone who knows the park intimately. An experienced ranger who has been in the park for at least a year can tell you what types of wildlife you can find there and what time of day they’re most active.

  • Ask a photographer. If you see a photographer with a camera bag and a digital SLR, you’ve probably found someone who is more than just a casual photographer. If you’re in a public place and there are other people present, ask the photographer for some information. The worst thing he can do is ignore you, but chances are he’ll share some information with you.

  • Look for telltale signs that animals have been around. If you’re on a trail, look for footprints in the dirt.

    If you notice a smell similar to a dirty cage at a zoo, you’ve found an area that an animal has marked as its territory. Photographers have been known to stumble upon an animal’s lair. A bobcat won’t take kindly to your presence.

  • Listen. If you know the sounds the animal makes, stop and listen. Sometimes you can hear the animal’s footsteps as it disturbs the underbrush. Other animals, like bobcats and panthers, can walk through the woods without making a sound the human ear can capture.

  • Look for differences in the landscape. The trick is to look for something that doesn’t belong. If you see a swatch of tan in a forest, you’ve probably located an animal.

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