default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard

Stalking the elusive stag of Lodi Lake

Photo chief braves the wilds of Lodi in search of danger

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Saturday, November 3, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:36 am, Sat Nov 3, 2012.

6:30 a.m., Lodi Lake Nature Area. It is 50 degrees. The fog of my breath dims the beam of my flashlight as I walk down the uneven path.

I move silently away from the pavement and hunker down beneath a tree at the edge of a meadow. I wait for my target.

I’m hunting a buck.

Not just any buck — a buck who will not shy away from conflict and will stand his ground when faced with a trespasser. A buck whose aggressiveness prompted the Lodi Parks and Recreation Department to post warning signs.

Three people have already had encounters with the hostile animal.

I watch now, not down the iron sights of a rifle, but through the viewfinder of a Nikon D800 camera.

Moments go by. Then, in the distance, I see two sets of eyes, one yellow, one green, reflecting the light of my flashlight back at me.

An eerie glow in the darkness.

I wait in anticipation as the first rays of dawn begin to illuminate the meadow and the creatures on the other side.

Will the morning light reveal my target? Will the velvet antlers of a stag rise with the sun as I kneel in mud and wet grass?

No. Only a mule deer doe and her fawn. I must, however, be on the right track.

I watch and wait, finally taking photos when the light is strong enough. After a few minutes, another doe appears out of the brush. My excitement builds as I snap photo after photo, ignored by the little herd.

Then, I hear twigs breaking and leaves rustling right behind me. I freeze. Has dad come to join his family and discovered an intruder instead?

A nut falls, landing just inches from my feet. I look up to see a gray squirrel rummaging. Behind me is (presumably empty) forest.

No buck. Just a busy, noisy rodent.

I relax.

I decide to move closer to the deer for better photos, hoping the buck is in the nearby trees and brush. Taking slow steps I inch closer and closer. The deer, now numbering six, stare at me, then go on eating and grooming.

As I reach the halfway mark of the meadow a familiar sound fills the air, much to my dismay — loud talkers on a morning walk. They stop on the path to watch the deer, then begin walking excitedly toward them.

I begin shooting photos in hopes of getting the attention of the walkers before they scare off the deer. It works. With hushed voices and slow steps back, they leave me to my prey.

I advance again.

I am shocked by how close the deer are letting me get to them, but I am losing hope of finding my real target. I can see all of the deer clearly because the sun is rising above the tree line, but none are adorned with antlers. More and more walkers are passing by every minute.

Finally I am about 15 feet from the closest deer. I settle down and begin taking photos.

Several minutes pass, and four of the deer have ambled on into the more heavily wooded areas.

Only a doe and a fawn are left. I stand and start walking toward the path. The two quickly bound away.

I step out from between bushes onto the path and I am greeted by a man and woman walking briskly.

I leave the nature area, disappointed that I did not get the photo I was looking for, but elated by what I did capture.

Next time, I will go deeper into the Lodi Lake wilderness.

I will find my trophy.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don't pretend you're someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don't insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.

Welcome to the discussion.


  • Ron Werner posted at 10:30 pm on Mon, Nov 5, 2012.

    Ron Werner Posts: 73

    I think the buck is upset with all the inconsiderate dog owners who take their pets into the nature area. There are no less than 4 "no dogs allowed" signs at the entrance. Dogs are really smart animals, too bad they pick stupid people to be their guardians.

  • cindy hernandez posted at 9:28 am on Sat, Nov 3, 2012.

    sydney Posts: 3

    My sister and I went early in the morning to see the deer. They were beautiful. Felt like the mountains so quite. Then the loud walkers came by some with dogs. We were transported back to Lodi. Hoping no harms the buck. Let nature do her thing.

  • Roline Rodriguez posted at 9:26 am on Sat, Nov 3, 2012.

    karaoke62 Posts: 1

    OMG!!! LOL!!! Mule Deer???? [wink] Better learn what kind of deer Calif. has! Mule deer are in Nevada, Montana, Colorado, etc. If there was a muley at Lodi Lake you would have every hunter there just to see it!!![lol]



Popular Stories


Should graduations return to the Grape Bowl?

Lodi Unified leaders are moving Lodi and Tokay high school graduations from the Grape Bowl to the Spanos Center at UOP in Stockton. They cite limited seating, costs and unpredictable weather at the Grape Bowl. But others say graduations at the Grape Bowl are an important Lodi tradition, and one reason many supported renovating the stadium. What do you think?

Total Votes: 98


Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists