Focusing on the wild side of life
RINER — Riner resident Kevin Light, 40, has been photographing wildlife in the New River Valley in an unconventional way since 2009. Some of Light’s photos include deer, raccoons, bobcats and coyotes.
In 2009 — when Light used to hunt — he purchased a deer feeder from Bass Pro Shops. The feeder came with a “trail camera” that he didn’t plan to use. In fact, Light didn’t use it for quite some time.
One day, he set it up beside his home for fun.
Light threw some table scraps out in front of the camera’s view to see what he could capture on the motion-activated camera.
Some of the camera’s first pictures included a cat. This was expected, Light said. Then, a few photos later, a fox appeared. One day, Light noticed something much bigger captured on camera — a coyote.
“That’s when it hit me,” Light said. “That was awesome. I wanted to do more.”
Now, the Virginia Department of Transportation employee checks his 10 cameras strategically placed on family and friends’ private land once a week.
He checks each camera to make sure it hasn’t been tampered with, replaces the SD cards with empty ones and changes batteries if necessary.
To capture the wildlife on camera, Light needs to give them a reason to walk by. Armed with vanilla extract, Light pours the strong scent on the ground, which is usually enough to do the trick.
Light oftentimes receives leftover deer parts from his friends who are hunters, and he places the deer parts alongside the extract, which draws animals in, too. Light likes to use other methods of attracting animals such as chicken livers from the store, or leftover scraps from dinner.
But, believe it or not, Light’s not a hunter.
So why would he spend so much time photographing animals?
Simply put, Light said he’s intrigued by the animals and the challenge of capturing them on camera.
It has become a family affair for the Lights.
Katie, his 7-year-old daughter, likes to drive the mountainous terrain with her father to check on the cameras and see what animal photos they captured during the previous week.
“Whenever I come home, Katie sits on my lap and looks at every single picture we got,” Light said. “Sometimes, we get 500 to 600 photos, and she likes to go through each one of them.”
Last year, Light said he and Katie were going through the photos when he noticed a nursing coyote. Light quizzed Katie about the photo to see if she had noticed the nursing mother.
“Katie identified the coyote in the photo,” Light said. “She turned around and looked at it again and said it was a female. I asked her how she knew that. She said, ‘It doesn’t have any antlers, daddy.’ ”
As it turns out, Light and his daughter aren’t the only ones intrigued by the photos. In 2011, Light began posting on Facebook the photos his cameras had captured.
Some of his Facebook friends didn’t seem to want to know what was out in the woods of the NRV. So Light decided to start a Facebook fan page called “New River Valley Wildlife.”
“I started the Facebook page for local hunters to share their pictures,” Light said. “I share the pictures because a lot of people want to know what’s out there. Some people don’t want to know, but still look.”
Just this week, the Facebook fan page eclipsed the 500 “likes” mark.
When Light posts pictures each week, the pictures receive several “likes” and comments within minutes.
But for Light, the Facebook page isn’t about becoming somewhat of a local celebrity.
He doesn’t post the photos on the page for praise or glory, he said. No, Light admits he’s challenging himself to capture something unique, something he hasn’t captured before.
That’s why Light jokingly hopes he can be the first to share the first photo of Bigfoot in the NRV.
See more of Light’s wildlife photos on his Facebook fan page, here.
The Roanoke Times | 381-8627
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