Every hunter should carry a camera to record their hunting experience, and especially the rare ones when you actually take a deer. I say rare, since statistics show only around 14-17% of all hunters are successful each year. The hunting experience should include recording deer sign like scenery, wallows, rub trees, droppings and footprints, your daypack, rifle, and hunting companions in the photo for scale or added interest. Capture wildlife — elk, black-tailed, whitetail, sitka deer, bear, cougar, snakes, lizards, badgers, coyotes, owls, eagles, hawks and jays etc., all of which add dimension to your hunting experience, and how you can relay that experience to others.
Equipped with your rifle or Bow, backpack, knife, binoculars and survival gear, you’re ready to go hunting—well, not quite! A good camera is as important a choice as your rifle and should be given equal consideration and thought. Your camera should be loaded with film (is anyone still using film?) or with a large memory card, ready to use and carried at the top of your daypack for easy access. It’s not much use to you if your camera is back in the vehicle or at camp when the trophy is at your feet, or you happen upon a beautiful vista or something unique.
Photography has several purposes. Let’s start with habitat, taking shots of the different terrain you hunt in, not only the huge vistas of mountain ranges, lakes, but of the actual bush you walk through—dry southern slopes, gullies, browse plants and river flats. In this way non-hunters will get a good idea of where you are hunting, and better appreciate why we enjoy being in the outdoors. Even more importantly, you will have a permanent record of the habitat in which you hunt and the way it changes over time. Be sure to record the time and place each of the photos were taken, as well as any other significant details such as the names of people in them.
Take shots of your vehicle, not only for historic reasons, but when negotiating river crossings, steep terrain, mud and snow. Get off the track into the bush to get a photo that gives a better idea of the grade or difficulty experienced during the hunt. (As can be seen in the associated image). Catch your companions unawares doing chores around the camp, cleaning rifles, feeding hounds, eating and drinking, and pointing out sign. Taking photos of everyday mundane hunting actions may seem a bit lame, but 20 years down the track because people change, some old friends or relatives pass on, you will wish you had taken more.
Think of photography as a means of encapsulating a period in time, this becomes a part of you and your genealogy to be passed down through time to your ancestors. Obviously, it is equally important to train your friends in the art of photography, since it will be one of them taking the photograph of you with your trophy (remember that any animal taken while hunting is a trophy).
Trophy recording, not only bulls and bucks, but also cows and does, is usually the first thing that comes to mind for the use of a camera. Take plenty of photographs! Don’t spare the film or memory card! A shot of the animal as it has fallen close up should be the start, and then move back a little, to show the terrain. A good photograph that depicts the overall scene, is one of the hunter approaching the animal with caution; the rifle lowered but ready, as would normally be the case. Be sure to take plenty of close-ups—just head and shoulders of the animal and hunter as well as the complete animal. Don’t forget presentation—no tongues hanging out, blood and entrails, unnatural positions, or surroundings, such as in the back of a pickup truck, hunters with dark glasses, or hats on, all can spoil many otherwise good photos. Remember that some people will be offended by images of animals that have blood on them or gaping holes, or in the back of a pickup, on the front lawn or similar. A good “Trophy” image is one where the viewer asks “How did you get the animal to sit still for the image?” or “Is it really dead?”, or makes a comment about the scenic beauty that you were in.
It is extremely important that hunters do not proliferate the internet with bloodied images and generally images of poor taste, ones that would offend others, if they cannot tell the animal id dead, it will not offend them, simple as that. Good shooting, both with the hunting tool of choice and the camera! Yes, this is a politically correct statement, as firearms, and archery equipment are hunting tools, weapons are things used against other people ;-)