Hatteberg's People - Joelle Wales

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Sunday, June 3, 2012

On Hatteberg's People, Joelle Wales is a deer paparazza. New term for you? It was to me, too. Joelle is a Sedgwick County woman who has found a calling as a deer biographer.

A few years, ago she began keeping track of deer in a local outdoor recreation area. It blossomed as she got to know them. They, now know her and her photography and observations about the animals have given both a new understanding of each other.

It's being with the deer that has hooked Joelle.

"They just trust me! That's what I get out of it, just knowing that I have a connection," said Wales.

When she's not in the field with the deer, she's in a quiet place at home, writing her experiences in a daily internet blog.

"I've always wanted to do something different and it is exciting. It's never the same thing. There is just lots to a deer that just fascinates me!"

She began writing when one of the deer she was studying died.

"I wrote about it. I just wrote about the heartbreak of the whole thing because he was my baby, he was one of the ones that I studied."

Over time, her pictures became closer and closer because she takes great care to blend in, wearing brown and protecting herself from ticks and bug bites. Every day out in the field, she watches them and records their activities.

"Hopefully, more people will be aware of deer, that they are not just something to hunt. They have a story and that's what I feel like I'm supposed to be doing - telling their story... I just became like a family member to them. It was just something that felt right from God!"

Through the woods, the briars and brambles she goes because that's where they are. The deer have accepted her so well that they permit her to be close as she films feeding time. Some seem to pose for her camera. She knows their families, their favorite haunts, their rituals and their lineage. Through her photographs, she sees the deer not as simply wildlife, but as individual members of a family - a family visible only to those they trust.

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