You’ve spent countless hours honing your skills, preparing for the hunt, and dreaming of the moment that just played out in front of you. The shot was perfect, making the kill quick and humane. Before hauling your animal out of the field where it will be processed into delicious table fare – you take a few moments to reflect and capture photos to share and relive your hunt for years to come.
Harvest photos are cherished keepsakes allowing bowhunters to reminisce of past hunts and honor the animal long after its meat has been enjoyed. The following tips will help you take harvest photos showing off your kill, while also respecting the animal and anyone who may view the images.
Make It Legal and Clean Up
First things first, fill out or punch your tag to make your harvest legal upon recovering your animal. If you harvested an antlered animal and don’t want the tag attached to the antlers in your photos, it may be possible to attach it to one of the rear legs but be sure to check your local and state game laws to ensure this is legal practice before doing so. If your recovery is quick and you have time, waiting until photos are taken before gutting or quartering generally yields better images.
Cleaning and preparing your harvest for field photos is an important step in capturing tasteful images. If the animal’s tongue is hanging out of its mouth tuck it in so it isn’t visible. Also, wipe off any excess blood on the animal’s mouth, nose, antlers, and body. Keeping a small package of moist wipes in your pack for this process works great and is also useful when cleaning up after field dressing.
Positioning and Posing
When looking for the perfect spot to shoot photos with your harvest there are a few things to keep in mind. Look for an area that will allow you and the animal to be slightly elevated. If possible, select a spot with a backdrop accurately depicting the habitat of the area. Also, pay attention to lighting. Early morning and late afternoon will provide the best light but waiting to take photos isn’t usually an option. When dealing with direct sunlight, position the animal so the sun is striking it from the front but at an offset angle. Sunset photos are an exception to this rule, the vibrant colors of a sunset can make for a beautiful backdrop for harvest photos. Once a spot is selected pose your animal in a bedded type position where the legs are tucked under the body and the head is up. Doing this as soon as possible before the stiffness of rigor mortis sets in will make the task much easier.
The Angle Makes the Shot
Shooting photos from a low angle will help to accentuate your harvest, that’s why positioning your kill on a slight elevation is good practice. Getting low with the camera so that the skyline runs through the animal’s eyes will make an antlered animal’s rack pop. If a skyline shot isn’t possible, look for a background that provides high contrast to your harvest. Change the animal’s head position often to get shots from several different angles. Also, get shots with the hunter seated behind and next to their kill. Don’t forget to get your gear in the photo, leaning your bow up against an animal’s body is a classic bowhunter pose.
Don’t Forget to Smile
Taking an animal’s life can bring on many emotions for a hunter. You’ll undoubtedly feel the heaviness of the kill but there’s no reason for the mood to be somber. As a bowhunter, the end of a successful hunt should be something to celebrate and take great pride in because your hard work has paid off and you have meat for the freezer. Smiling in these moments of success is as natural as striking a grin in any moment of accomplishment. Smiling ear to ear while sitting behind a dead animal is something that may not be understood by those who don’t hunt but that’s OK. You can still be respectful while letting that smile shine bright.
Next time you notch a tag keep these tips in mind. You’ll have beautiful photos to remember past hunts that showcase your respect for the animal and those who view your photos.