Respect The Game
As hunters, responsibility to our quarry begins at the moment the trigger is pulled, if not before. Taking ethical, high percentage shots in order to ensure an efficient and clean kill is imperative. However, respecting the wildlife we pursue certainly does not end there. We have an added duty to present our way of life in a positive light to hunters and non-hunters alike. Social media platforms can be an excellent tool to further a cause, but, they can also create an opportunity for damaging content to spread like wildfire. So, what can be done to put forth a positive image?
1. Avoid unnecessary photos of excess carnage.
Posting close ups of large wound channels, whether from bullet or broadhead, is not necessary and does little to perpetuate our sport or cause. While a large exit hole can lead to a short blood trail and a clean kill, a photo of it isn’t something that enhances your harvest or makes the feat of taking that animal any more or less impressive. Avoiding photos which show mass tissue displacement is in good taste. At the same time, this is a blood sport, and we should embrace that. Bloodshed is a necessary part of hunting and management practices, and there is no shame in that. Making excuses for this reality is as unnecessary as posting gory wound photos. You shouldn’t be concerned with cleaning off every last drop of blood from the deer before you photo, however, tasteful and respectful photos create better memories to be shared with friends and family as well as the non-hunting public.
2. If you are taking a harvest photo you have already won.
If you are preparing to take a harvest photo it means you have already outsmarted and outwitted your quarry on some level. You have essentially won this round and there isn’t any reason to sit over or on your deer in your photo. Sitting on your buck while holding its antlers for the picture doesn’t show the deer the respect it deserves. Additionally, it rarely provides the best angle to show the true size of the deer. Positioning yourself beside the deer will create a more tasteful photo that properly displays your harvest.
3. Remember the tongue.
This one is pretty simple, harvest photos of deer with their tongue hanging out of their mouth are a distraction from the true subject of the photo. Its a quick, easy fix; just take a few seconds to place the deer’s tongue back in its mouth before the photo and you will be rewarded with a much more attractive image to preserve your memory.
4. Take your time.
Usually, a harvest is an exciting event, and in the moment it is easy to forget to slow down and soak it all in. Take your time to figure out photo angles that most accurately depict the true size of your trophy. Try different angles that capture the emotion of the moment so that you can preserve those feelings for years to come. You may also consider the time of day when you are taking the photos. It may be advantageous to wait to photograph a mid-day harvest until later in the afternoon. A photo which is backlit by a setting sun can be inspiring, breathtaking and convey the emotion that better helps tell your story to those whom you share it with. Photos of a harvest that is recovered after dark can achieve similar results by using artificial light to back-light the image. Take your time to capture all the aspects of your harvest and become creative with your photography. You will end up with a collection of photos that will preserve your memory for decades and you will never regret taking a few extra moments to snap those once in a lifetime images.
We owe respect to the game we pursue; it begins when we make the decision to take an animal but it continues through all aspects of the harvest. Honoring your quarry can bring a new appreciation to the hunt and make us more in-tune sportsmen and conservationists.
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