Rory champion photography

EXPLORING WILDLIFE, LANDSCAPES AND NATURAL HISTORY THROUGH PHOTOGRAPHY

How to sneak up on a hare

Certain questions in life you will never need the answer to.

I have a background in online marketing and communications and I know the value of a well-written headline as 'clickbait' i.e.  getting a potential visitor to click on your advert.

So when I wrote the headline above, I considered briefly whether it is of any significance to anyone. Then I  cleared my internet history to find out what Google would throw up as the top "how to..." questions, which were as follows:

  1. How to make pancakes
  2. How to make slime
  3. How to train for a marathon
  4. How to be single

'How to make pancakes' is fair enough, especially if you have low ceilings. As is how to train for a marathon. But knowing how to make slime and be single (these activities are mutually exclusive) really don't warrant time spent on Google.

There are thus three applicable lessons I've learnt.

The first one is that you need Sodium Tetraborate (Borax) in order to make slime.  The second is that just because something isn't useful, doesn't mean it has no value.

The third, and most critical, is how to get close enough to a hare so that you can take a decent photo of it, as being able to do this means you have mastered the art of avoiding detection by the most skittish of creatures in the UK.

Hare in a field

Hare in a field

This article assumes that you don't have the patience and inclination to wait sitting in a hide in the hope a hare runs to you. This is of course a good option, however you'll need to be confident you are sat along the path that a hare regularly uses, and by regularly I mean many times a day, as it wont take too many 'blank' sessions before you give up and take your camera to a local zoo.

Movement

A hare will easily detect movement if it's unnatural movement relative to the surroundings. That means unless you're a tree leaf, you'll be detected.

Hares' eyes are positioned on the side of the the head, so if you approach from the side, you'll be detected.

Hares have a supreme sense of smell, so if you approach upwind smelling of any particular fragrance or odour, you'll be detected.

In fact, even if you're the most stealthiest of characters, in the vast majority of cases, you'll be detected.

Portrait of a hare

Portrait of a hare

The two fingers method

Given the above, your best bet is to approach when the hare is not looking, and this is a slow and painstaking process where you'll be in conflict with your own discipline and aching legs.

Firstly, get as close as you can using trees or bushes as cover. Then wait for the hare to start eating grass. If you're still a fair distance away you'll notice it's ears bobbing up and pointing upwards and down as it munches. This is the time to move. Take a few careful steps, avoiding any dry leaves or twigs that will audibly snap if you stand on them. Then stop. The hare will raise its head to check for danger whilst its eating. After a few seconds though it will resume eating with its head down in the grass. Repeat this process, but with each set of steps you take closer to the hare they become slower, more cautious and lower against the horizon. By the time you get within 10 meters of the hare you should be crouching. If the following happens, you've probably blown it:

  • The hare collapses its ears down on to its back
  • The hare rises up into a prone position
  • The hare separates its ears so that one is sticking upwards whilst the other adopts a more diagonal position.
  • The hare has already run off - if this happens, don't be fooled into thinking it may come back to its original spot (like an adder sunning itself in its favourite basking spot). It will almost certainly stop, look back for a few moments, then carry on running away.

With any luck if the above hasn't happened, you'll be close enough to get a decent, fully framed shot with a telephoto lens.

Four hares chasing each other and boxing

Four hares chasing each other and boxing

 

Next Post

© 2017 Rory champion photography

Theme by Anders Norén