As a sports and outdoors editor for Capital Newspapers, I happily receive many photos of successful hunters and their deer each fall. It is always fun to see some of the nice deer taken in the area each year, and even more fun seeing the big smiles that are usually on the faces of the successful hunters.
Many of the photos I see look nice, and I am happy to share them in the newspaper. Other photos could be much better had the hunter or photographer taken a few simple steps to improve the final product, which in this case is a clean photo to help the hunter remember the experience for many years to come.
The biggest mistake made by hunters when photographing deer after a successful hunt is picking a poor location to shoot the photo. The best place to shoot the photo is usually in the woods, where the hunt took place. If you have a natural background, it will make the photo look better. If you can pose the deer on a rise, allowing you to use the skyline as a background, that is also a good way to go.
The most popular place to photograph a deer seems to be in the back of a pickup truck. I understand it is convenient to photograph your big buck after you haul him home, but a photo in the woods, or at the very least, in the backyard will always look better than one taken in the back of a truck, or worse, with it strapped down to one of those racks that insert into the back hitch of your vehicle. If I can see your license plate or your spare tire, it is not a good photo.
The other photo I will often receive is of a hunter posing with their deer while it is hanging in the garage. This is no way to pose your deer for a photo.
Another mistake hunters will often make is hopping on the deer’s back, as if they were riding a bucking bronco. This might be a good photo if you were at a rodeo, but it makes for an unattractive deer photo. A hunter should be sitting behind or next to the deer, not on top of it.
It’s also a good idea to take time to clean your deer up. I usually keep some wet wipes in my hunting pack to clean any blood off the deer’s mouth and nose. A photo without blood, showing the deer looking as close as possible to its natural state will always make for a better photo.
A photo with the deer’s tongue hanging out is also very unappealing. The problem is easily fixed by cutting off the tongue with a knife, but I’ve also heard of others that use a small rubber band to keep the deer’s mouth closed and tongue tucked inside.
Another tip to a better photo is to have the photographer shoot from a lower angle. Have the photographer shoot from the deer’s eye level, or even slightly below. A tripod and the use of a timer or remote control to trigger the camera is also great idea if you don’t have a hunting buddy to shoot the photo for you.
My other tip for you is to shoot a lot of photos. When shooting photos after a successful hunt, I often find I will actually like one out of every 10 photos taken. If I shoot 100 photos, I should have about 10 good ones. Shoot from different angles too. With digital cameras, there is no reason to limit the number of photos you take.
Many photos often include the weapon used during the hunt. I’m all for that, especially if the bow or gun has sentimental value to the hunt. In my opinion, having the hunter hold the weapon makes for the best photo. Laying the bow or gun across the deer is alright too, just make sure the gun isn’t loaded. Never pose your rifle in the deer antlers.
Not too long ago, I would tell hunters not to rely on their cell phones to take good photographs. While that is still the case today, there are many phones that can take quality photographs. A good quality digital camera is still the way to go, so if possible, make sure to bring a camera with you on your hunt. When you have good photos of the hunt to look back on, you won’t regret having that camera in your hunting pack.
My one final tip for you is to share your successful hunting photos with your local newspaper. If you follow the advice I have given you, it will result in a photograph worth sharing with all of our readers.