Taking good hunting pictures
Back in the day, I really didn’t pay too much attention to my hunting pictures as I just wanted the “picture” of my buck, turkey, or whatever….period. In fact, much to my regret, I didn’t photograph many of my trophies as I either didn’t want to bother or I didn’t carry a camera with me. I hunted by myself most of the time and didn’t want to carry anything extra as my bag was already full of other stuff. I also hunted in the rain often and always worried I would ruin anything of any value, so if I didn’t need it to hunt, I simply didn’t take it along.
When I did take a picture, I never bothered to push the tongue back in, wipe the blood off of the face, etc. so I always had a “yuck” response from most of the non-hunting (but not anti-hunting) family and friends of mine. Here’s some examples below:
Some hunters, like myself, also overlook some other details like the sun, natural backdrop and so forth. Here’s a good picture from my good friend Gino who popped this nice Iowa buck, but the sun and the timber robs the buck of some detail:
Background “noise” like this trailer can really take away some of the beauty:
Parrish Brown’s monster buck below is a good example of a nice, neat picture that is sure to please just about anyone looking at that image. Take a little time and be creative when at all possible.
Whenever you see a guy with a big buck wearing a stocking cap, a great big smile and the rack pushed way up in front of him into the camera, you already know it’s Chuck Adams because that his “trademark”. I tried trade marking my photos in the last 3 years by keeping my ghillie suit on, slipping my body over the buck’s back and keeping the rack in front of my face. I’ve also been a good boy and either cut the tongue out or pushed it back in. Sometimes I can’t get all of the blood off of the face but I try. In retrospect, I try to make the buck look alive and well, although we all know he met his fate at the end of my arrow. With the popularity of whitetail hunting today, it’s always advantageous to make hunting more acceptable to the general public and taking great photos can contribute to such acceptance.
Good luck this year! The rut’s in full bore as I write this blog, so hopefully you’ll get something to take a picture of!Permalink
The big bucks are on the move!
It’s not always about being in the woods to see how the rut transition develops, being a taxidermist really helps! My first rutting buck came into the taxidermy studio tonight with a big fat muscle bound neck. I shouldn’t be surprised, after all, it is the end of October. I watched the transition last week when a medium sized buck came into a bleat call and stopped. I could see his neck had begun the swelling process but just wasn’t quite the size he could have been if it was two weeks later. His actions didn’t reflect the the interest of a buck ready to fight for a hot doe either.
Like a light switch, it is officially “on”.
I’m really excited this year as I haven’t killed a buck during the rut in almost 7 years or longer. I’ve been on a uncanny roll of harvesting the majority of my bucks in early season for some time (and in some cases, late season), so watching bucks chase does and playing the sneaky game of using scents, calling, rattling, etc. will make it fun. Although I can say in all honesty that I don’t have a buck in the radar screen since I am hunting a new parcel of property this year, so I do know that I am hunting wandering bucks.
The photo above is the last deer I took off of my farm during the rut 7 years ago. The neck on this guy was incredible, so I decided to use it as an example of a rutting buck. Hopefully I’ll have some pictures to post of some big bucks coming into my studio this week. If you have any pictures you would like to share (or an update on spotting some rutting bucks), leave a comment or contact me. The action officially begins now and will continue for several weeks, so get out there and hunt!Permalink
Field Judging Racks
You get up early, lose sleep, buy new hunting products, clean your clothes, etc., etc., etc. Then the day comes. You are in the stand and the big boy shows his face. He gets closer and closer, then…pop, you got him! “OH Boy, he’s a giant”, you say to yourself. You watch him run off into the forest. Now you track the blood trails slowly and very carefully, making sure you periodically look up and ahead of where you are walking just in case you happen to see him. The clock seems to stand still as you so cautiously maneuver closer foot by foot. You lose the blood trail then you pick it back up. You hear your own voice inside your heard saying, “ Man, he’s a hog”!
You continue on and finally, you see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow…your buck! You run up to him and say to yourself,………………… “man, he’s not that big!” Whoa, what a letdown. Depression sets in. You feel like an idiot because you believed you had a giant. What you’ve just experienced is the “ incredible shrinking rack syndrome”. On the hoof it’s a giant, on the ground it’s a dog. How do you avoid the incredible shrinking rack syndrome?
Incredible shrinking rack syndrome is something all trophy hunters have experienced. It’s not a fun thing. It’s very disappointing to say the least. Incredible shrinking rack syndrome can last for days, months or even years. There’s no cure for it either. But there is a way to prevent it. Lets look at some ways to prevent such a horrible tragedy:
Some states like Illinois, have a 2-buck limit per year quota. It stinks when you waste one of your tags on a buck you think is a hog and it turns out to be much smaller than you originally thought. Many hunters, after having been through this syndrome before, now use some very quick but accurate methods of field scoring deer to prevent any mistakes. All deer look bigger on the hoof than on the ground, that’s a fact. Their bodies hold their rack high and stout. They’re very rarely in a stationary position long enough for you to see and evaluate every tine, etc. These are reasons that make if difficult to judge. One major factor that is misleading to most hunters is the inside spread of the antlers. Many hunters make this horrible mistake when shooting at a trophy buck. A set of antlers with an inside spread of 20 inches, is indeed, a nice spread; in fact it’s a beauty. But the inside spread often is so misleading as it is a measurement that gives very little to the total score on the Pope & Young/Boone & Crockett scoring system. Think about this: a buck with a 16-inch inside spread is considered about average. A buck with an inside spread of 20 inches is considered very wide, but there is only a 4 inch difference in the total score! That’s 4 lousy inches. Not much. So shooting a wide buck has duped many a hunter based on the spread alone.
So what do we look at? When time is critical, a seasoned trophy hunter will go directly to 2 different points on the rack. Mass and the G-4 tine. Don’t forget this! First of all, the tines make up most of your total score in most racks. If it has a G-4, you know right now, it is a least a 10 pointer (if both sides have G-4’s). Not too many small 10 pointers, but there are some. Now look at the size of the G-4. If you see any decent length on the G-4, you can rest assure chances are that the G-3 and G-2’s are of good size. Are there exceptions to these statements? Absolutely! But the higher probability lies with the G-4 theory. For those of you who are just beginning to hunt, the G-4 is the name given to the fourth tine on the main beam starting from the “eyebrow tine” which is the closest tine to the base of the antler, by the skull. So, in a flash, look at the G-4’s and in 3 seconds, you’ll know part of the story on this buck.
Lets go to the mass. The P&Y and B&C scoring systems allow for 4 mass measurements on each whitetail buck’s main beam. That’s a total of 8 measurements. The “H” (mass) measurements are taken from the circumference of the main beam between the first tine and the base of the antler, then 3 more between the next individual tines. Most hunters miss these opportunities to field judge the size of a rack. Think of this: a main beam with 4 measurements of 4 inches compared to a main beam with 4 measurements of 5 inches. Now multiply that number by 2 sides and you can see how much difference we are talking about. The rack with the 4-inch measurements total 32 total inches and the rack with the 5-inch measurements total 40 inches. That’s double the gain of the aforementioned spread measurements of 16 inches to 20 inches of spread and 12” more than the 20” spread. So you would have to shoot a buck with a 24 inch inside spread just to match the gain of the mass measurements mentioned in this example. Let me tell you, a buck with a 24-inch spread is a tough buck to find!
I hope you find these examples useful. So to sum it up, when under pressure to shoot or not to shoot, field judge your buck by going directly to the G-4 and the mass. If you look any farther than that, you may just pass out if the buck is a big one, so stick to those two methods!
In conclusion, this example isn’t to say that any buck of a smaller size isn’t a trophy! The purpose of this article is to point out the choices you have and how to make them quickly if you are hunting for a bigger buck.
(image above from the Boone & Crockett Club website)