At the time Double Trouble was one of only a couple of paintings to date that comes from an actual scene. I photographed the background when I was still teaching science in Ankeny and had to be at work at 7:50 a.m. each school day. That left little time for travel so I needed to get my reference photos nearby. This particular background was photographed just a few miles west of Northview Middle School and just north of Westwood Elementary. As with much of the land around Des Moines, it is now a developed residential area.
The scene is a snow-covered soybean field after the fall harvest. Early morning sunlight filters through the trees catching several whitetail at the field’s edge. A yearling doe in the foreground and a fawn approach cautiously with tails raised, signaling potential danger. Young deer especially can be very curious and approach an object that appears out of place for a closer look or circle downwind for a scent check. Movement under these conditions by a human observer frequently results in a good rear-end view of rapidly departing deer. A mature doe grooms herself nearby, while in the background, a mature buck checks the licking branch hanging over a scrape. Scrapes are pawed areas made by deer as the fall breeding season approaches. Those along field edges are most often checked by big bucks under the cover of darkness. Whitetail seem to take great pleasure in leaving scent from glands on the forehead and in front of the eye on overhanging branches and also in smelling the branch to discover what information has been left by previous visitors. Though deer can be very obvious when in the open they can also be surprisingly difficult to spot while standing in cover, therefore it seemed natural to place a second buck in the shadows. It is not uncommon to find several bucks in the vicinity of a doe nearing estrous. Competition for breeding privileges can become very intense and the presence of two mature bucks in close proximity to a receptive doe gives rise to the other meaning of the title Double Trouble.
- Larry Zach
SN Edition: 850 prints @ $85 (SOLD OUT*) AP Edition: 85 prints @ $125 (SOLD OUT*) Image size: 24 x 16
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