You've got that trophy buck on the ground, now what?
So you've got a big buck on the ground, maybe it's the buck of a lifetime. Now what? You'll want to preserve some memories of the hunt, right?
You don't have to be a professional photographer to get great photos of your harvest.
Here are some examples of common mistakes to avoid with your next successful deer hunt.
8. Garage and Pickup Bed Shots
You didn't shoot the deer while it was in the back of your pickup, or while it was hanging in your garage. A natural setting always makes for a better photo.
If, for whatever reason, you cannot take photos in the field where your deer fell, even your yard is a better setting than in the garage next to yard tools, trash and the lawnmower.
And I know you're proud of your truck, but we want to see your deer, not your ride. Think about which one you would rather frame; in the bed of a pickup, or out in the cornfield where the deer fell?
7. The Tongue Shot
This is one of the most common things you'll see when people take photos of their deer. Many pictures, even tailgate shots, can instantly be improved simply by pushing the deer's tongue back in its mouth.
This shows the animal you harvested some respect and gives it some dignity in death. Don't forget it was once a living thing.
It only takes a few seconds and your photos will be better because of it. Try to keep in mind how a non-hunter may perceive your bloody tongue photo if they were to see it.
6. Messy Field Dressing
Field dressing a deer is a dirty job, and it often leaves a big mess. It's always better to take photos before you field dress. But that's not always an option. If it isn't, don't take your photo where everyone can see up into the body cavity to where the deer's major organs used to be. It's just not a pretty picture.
Do you want to remember the hunt or the field dressing job? Positioning the deer so its head and body are in line with the camera can help hide a messy field dressing job in some cases.
I prefer to fold the deer's legs under it as if it were bedded. Keep in mind, it is easier to do this while the kill is still fresh. As the animal stiffens up, it becomes almost impossible to fold the legs back.
This one should be obvious and is directed more at adult hunters.
Don't believe me? Take a little time to compare photos of child and adult hunters. You'll definitely see a difference!
Kids are great about showing their enthusiasm for their accomplishment. What I can't understand are all the adults who take the buck of a lifetime and then put on a face that looks like they just walked out of a funeral.
I'm here to tell you, it's OK to smile! Are you not excited to have taken a deer? Show a little enthusiasm!
4. Holding It Out
I'm talking about sitting as far back as you can and holding the deer's head at full-arm's length and filling the frame with the buck's head to make it look bigger.
The people that do this are usually serial offenders. It's called forced perspective, and it's not fooling anyone about your deer's size.
More than likely, it will have your hunting buddies snickering behind your back. There's no need to feel ashamed about the size of your deer, no matter how big it is.
People will respect your photo more for being honest when you hold it normally.
3. Sitting on the Deer
This one again falls into the respect for the animal category.
He's not giving you a ride. The deer is dead. It's obvious already you've won in the life-or-death struggle with the animal. Don't straddle or sit on the deer.
Show the harvested animal a little more respect than that. Sitting behind or next to the animal puts you both on equal ground. You won't look like you're trying to assert your dominance.
Again, remember how non-hunters may perceive your photo.
2. Wipe up that blood!
This is similar to the open body cavity and tongue hanging out. Sometimes I'll see photos like the above that's a pretty good photo except for one thing, the deer's body is splashed with blood.
You'll see this most commonly around the arrow/bullet entrance/exit wound. Nothing will upset or disturb a non-hunter quicker than seeing your successful harvest splashed with blood all over its body and face.
I usually just take paper towels and wet them slightly to wipe away blood from the face and body. Again, it only takes a moment and your photos will look nicer because of it.
1. Lighting is Everything
There's a reason professional photographers obsess over light. They might wait hours on end for it to be just right.
It's because light can make or break your photo. Granted, many deer are recovered in the dark after an evening hunt, but that doesn't mean you should settle for crappy photos.
If you don't have a good light source that can adequately light up the scene, there's nothing wrong with taking some additional photos the next morning. Also, feel free to experiment. In this digital age, you can keep shooting until you have the perfect shot.
If you avoid these mistakes, your photos of successful hunts will definitely improve. Note this story's feature image for an excellent example of a successful harvest photo.
By following these rules, you'll have photos to help you cherish memories of successful hunts for years to come!
All photos via Facebook, Michigan Buck Pole