The picture I have in this story is a great example of what not to do. Not only do I have a picture of me and a great deer, but you can see my junky truck, bloody pants, and other things that are not relevant or needed. This photo is the result of no planning!
As soon as you have checked to see if your “catch” is deceased, immediately validate or tag the big game critter. Most folks use electric tape to secure the tag to the leg, ear or antler/horn. I often use a safety pin to place the game tag inside the ear of deer or elk. The tag is out of sight and secure. I have never had the tag lost or pulled out and the Game Wardens approved.
Now that we have addressed the legal matters, it is time to take the photo! This is when you need to come up with a plan. Don’t just grab a camera and start taking pictures and hope for the best. Before you head out to hunt, look at other great pictures and have an idea of what you like. We all enjoy reading magazines and seeing examples of what looks good.
First of all, stage your picture. This means that you need to assess what will be in the shot. The focus should be on the critter and hunter. Close ups are better than long distant shots. Your hope is to have a record of this special moment for eternity. Take a few minutes to ensure that you do a good job.
Locate the position of the sun and consider the lighting. You want the light on the picture and from the photographers back. Shadows are also a consideration. Adjust your position slightly to get the best light without any other distractions. Examine the position of the hunter and the critter closely. Imagine this picture being on the front of a magazine.
Changing the angle and position of the photographer is also a consideration. A picture taken kneeling will look different than one taken standing. Maybe snap the picture from the side or… Be creative and enjoy the moment.
Getting people to smile and have open eyes is an art. Try having them close their eyes until the count of three, then open them and smile. Making this a game ensures a happy and wide-eyed face. Look at the hunters face to see if they need to adjust their hat, comb their hair, or adjust their position.
Look at the critter and do any cosmetics needed. Place the tongue inside the mouth and clean any blood or debris. Cover or frame the shot to avoid any broken limbs, bloody holes, or… You know what I am saying.
As ethical hunters, we have a responsibility to present ourselves as Sportsmen. Hunting is a blood sport and not everyone appreciates what we do. A bloody tongue or hole will become the takeaway instead of a tasteful picture of a successful and proud hunter. Try to take a quality picture that could end up on a magazine cover.
Today’s cell phones and digital cameras allow us to immediately evaluate our pictures. If you don’t like it, press delete and try again. Once you have a decent picture that you like, send it to your computer where you can enhance and reframe it as needed. Suddenly your good picture becomes great!