IT WAS cold—just a couple days before Christmas. So cold, in fact, that the blanket of fog draping itself over the Ozarks had actually settled into a frozen sheen on the needle points of the pine trees in this Ponca grove. It was quiet and it was still, the only sound permeating the silence emerging from the crunch, crunch, crunch of the icy undergrowth breaking under photographer Jeff Rose’s boots as he moved between the rows of trees with his camera.

He saw them at roughly the same time they saw him. Startled by his sudden presence, they froze, and so did he. The moment pictured here was what happened next, and it was just that—a moment, one that ended as quickly as it had begun. “There were actually two of them there,” Jeff says of the deer. “I only caught one of them in the photo—the other one had made it behind the trees. So it was a quick action, just a quick snap. I hate to startle them like that, but it was a pretty magical moment. Anytime you come across wildlife like that, and especially with the scene around it, it was … I was really happy to have caught it.”