Le Brâme du Cerf: Red deer rut, Haute-Pyrénées, France, October 2022
On a wooded slope, a nearby deer defends his territory from another deer in the distance. Recorded with two omni mics in an almost-tree-ears array.
A deer's roar echoes through the valley. Recorded with a double mid-side array and decoded to ORTF stereo.
This is a big part of the job: set up your mics, walk away, and wait.
In late September and early October of this year, I took a workshop with composer and sound recordist Chris Watson, Hosted by CAMP in the Haute-Pyrénées mountain region of southwestern France, the workshop focused on recording the Red deer rut, or le brâme du cerf. The result was many hours of recording to comb through, and lots of food for thought regarding biodiversity, wild spaces and the constant vigilance required to maintain these things, or to slow their erosion.
Using Chris' extensive experience with red deer (and, of course, the pursuit of wild sounds in general), we recorded for three nights in a valley near dairy farms. More specifically, we set up our microphones at dusk right as the deer were getting started, then hurried away and waited near our vans, with packed sandwiches and a box of wine (this is France).
On the third night, Chris let me use his Schoeps double mid-side mic array with my Sound Devices recorder. The Mic that Launched a Thousand Web-Orders, since shortly after Chris started talking about this mic array in public, versions of it have started to show up everywhere. And, of course, now I want one too.
On the second night, I used my pair of MKH 8020 omni mics on a bar roughly 50 cm apart, but I set it up behind a small tree, giving me a stereo field with a bit more separation than I would get with a simple AB setup.
One of Chris' specialties is using extremely long microphone cables in order to distance himself from his natural subjects, to avoid spooking them, or getting eaten by them in the case of large predators; but here, we needed to give the deer much more room, as they never voluntarily get close to humans. A reminder that a big part of the job of field recording is waiting in silence, either alone or with a group of like-minded people, everyone listening quietly. No wonder I like it so much.