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High heat, strong winds finally show a beneficial side

7/12/2013

BROWNELL -- It's easy to complain about the summer's high heat, especially when it's accompanied by those dust-blowing, mind-numbing winds that sweep across the treeless plains of northwest Kansas.

It's not so easy to find something in that mix to smile about.

Or at least I thought so.

Until I ambled -- as well as you can in a Toyota Tacoma with the air conditioning blowing just as hard as possible -- in pursuit of harvest ventures in the Brownell area.

Sure, I spent considerable time photographing a crew cutting a hilltop field of wheat. Let's face it, I was amazed at how strong the south wind was blowing, nearly obscuring a massive combine as it headed north. The dust and chaff from the wheat virtually put the combine out of view.

But as they say, there's always a reason for the way things turn out.

Had I hurried along, I would have quickly missed the one time capable of bringing some delight in heat and wind.

I'm sure there would have been no chance I could have seen the massive mule deer peering out from a large culvert where it was seeking shade.

As it saw me approaching, the deer ducked back into the culvert, out of view, perhaps hoping I'd drive right on by. Had it been simply hot, I would have done just that.

But the wind was howling, and I wanted a photograph.

So I thought, perhaps, just maybe, I could slowly drive up as the deer stayed in the culvert, perhaps catching it coming out on the culvert's south side.

So I pulled forward, parking right on top of the culvert and stepped out, camera in hand. Barely able to stand up as the wind swept down a hillside.

Soon, I was in awe as the deer -- its growing antlers still covered in velvet -- peered out mere feet away to check and see if the coast was clear.

It was hard to breathe and my hands were virtually shaking, never mind the wind screaming down, making it that much more difficult.

The deer looked around and I pressed the shutter button as often as I could, amazed at what I was seeing.

I was capturing something people only hear about.

But soon, he saw me and bounded off.

I could breathe again, but my hands still shook.

Back in the truck, all I could do was check my photos. And marvel at the animal's magnificence.