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Tips for shooting game – with a camera

You’ve done it.

You’ve made your shot perfectly and as your heartbeat begins to slow to a normal speed, you gather up your gear. It doesn’t matter if it was a gun, a bow, or slingshot, you’ve accomplished what you had set out to do. As you weave your way through the thick woods and underbrush, or through knee-high cornstalks of a freshly picked field, you follow the path that will lead you directly to the final resting place of the game animal you’ve successfully harvest.

Once you’ve reached your trophy, you take a moment to stare and admire it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a buck with 12 points, a turkey with 1 1/4-inch spurs or any other animal you’ve been hunting, you let your most recent success sink in a little.

Then, as is the case with most hunters in the digital age, it’s time for a few photos. Therein lies the challenge ahead. With fairly decent cameras built into most phones and equipped with some sort of basic editing software, taking photos of the game you’ve bagged is now easier than ever.

Unfortunately for most of us, the one thing we do not carry into the woods with us is formal training in wildlife photography or even basic photography for that matter.

So let’s cover a few basic that will help you not only take a photo of your trophy that is social-media worthy, but also a freeze frame that will respect the game animal in the process.

As we all know, sometimes things can get a little messy. Like when a turkey meets your three-and-a-half inch magnum load at danger close range. So why not just leave the head out of the photo altogether? Taking the time to turn the head of your most recent deer harvest slightly and/or tucking its tongue back into its jaw shows time, effort and respect in just a couple extra seconds. This isn’t me as another hunter telling you how to do things, but rather, suggesting that there are plenty of people out there looking to spew hate at the tradition of hunting that they themselves do not understand.

Then, find the right spot. I’ve moved animals upwards of a half mile or more just to get a picture I know shows the natural beauty of the outdoors and the majestic creature the respect that it deserves. Remember these few tips and you’ll be sure to snap a shot that will do you and your most recent trophy a lot of justice.

Keep the sun to your back. This is always a must to get the best natural lighting and to eliminate glares.

Hat brims need to be slightly raised or hats removed if you actually want to be able to see its you and not a shadow where our face used to be. You can also shoot your photo from a lower angle to eliminate this issue. And don’t forget to smile. We all know your success has made you happy, and your stone face isn’t fooling us.

The less blood, the better. Moving away from the spot where the animal was recovered, or even turning them to one side or the other makes for a more attractive picture.

Fire away and make sure those pictures you shoot just as fantastic as the animals you shoot. After all, we respect the elusiveness that these creatures possess along with their natural survival instincts all they way up until we harvest them. Why not show that same respect after the hunt is over?

Hunt hard, hunt safe, and shoot straight, friends.

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John Knouse writes about the outdoors for The Sentinel.

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