Editor's note: Photojournalist Genie Cary decided to try for photos of US Fish and Wildlife efforts to capture deer on the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge on March 13. She didn't know quite what to expect. Here's her story:
I showed up at the whitetail deer refuge this morning just after 8:30. I rode out to the middle of the refuge with Fish and Wildlife to wait for the "hazing." I was told I could go to take pictures but I might have to work also. I wasn't really dressed for the occasion. Note to self: next time wear hip waders and camo.
First I had to lie down behind a tree until the deer came running out and then the 30 or 40 of us would keep the deer from going back into the wooded area. I heard someone yell, "Hey you I can see you. Get down!" Again I should have worn camo. After several fly overs and shelling (to scare the deer from cover) by the helicopter, we realized there was no one in the woods except us. The deer were on the other side of the refuge. We then moved closer to the netting. This time I sat down on a log in the water, with mud up to the top of my boots. Again., "Hey you, I can still see you." Gees, Dan (my husband) is going to have to take me to Cabelas for a new "hide from the Fish and Wildlife Guy" jacket.
Again the helicopter flies over and no deer. I did get a cute picture of a small frog in someone's hand. I decided to head back to my truck which was parked at the office a couple miles back. A kind F&W person gave me a ride up the road and stopped at the drop zone for the deer they found hiding on the other side of the refuge.
There I watched how hard these guys work. Not only does the helicopter bring in the deer that have been tied up and blindfolded so they don't hurt themselves. But after placing them on the ground people run out to check the deer. Kind of reminded me of the TV show MASH. They draw blood, check temperatures, tag them and generally make sure they are okay before they are placed in a transport container. During this time each person speaks very softly as to not cause more distress for the deer. Even though the deer are small, they need to be held down by two or three people for this process. There were several of us taking pictures and trading email addresses to share our shots.
While I found that crawling through a barbed wire fence and laying in the mud with a helicopter flying overhead was not for someone who sits at her computer all day, I am glad I took the opportunity to do something different for a change. By the way....watch for me on channel two tonight. I will be the one wearing a black winter coat and not camo.