Minnesota firearm (whitetail deer) season began in our area this past weekend. We mainly have archers in our household, (Mitch has hunted solely with a bow for 15+ years now) so rifle season is more of an inconvenience to them than anything - interrupting the many months & work they put into bow season, their surroundings & routine.
Mason & Eric have been in the bow stand with their dad since they were four years old. They weren't yet five when they held still enough one evening for a young buck to come within the short distance of bow range, and they participated in their first harvest.
When it comes to hunting, it's very much their thing with their dad. So it's special to me that being the family photographer has become my small
contribution to the family hunting. That small contribution has preserved good memories, and also won them a fair amount in prize money toward archery equipment over the past few years.
After months of time & observation over the summer, heading out into the woods every day after football
practice, after school, & weekends all fall, Mason harvested a beautiful buck late Saturday morning.
It was very special to go into the woods with him to capture a photo he can keep forever.
Mason, 15-almost-16 years old, with his 2013 buck, harvested on our own property.
A beauty. A lot of protein for our family.
It's important to remember
that hunting is a tradition that has provided food & survival
since the beginning of mankind. And that hunting is also a right that there are groups fighting to take away
from us every day. It's important to show that it's still being
done respectfully, responsibly & with purpose.
Last year during the hunting season, I put my heart into the following post in which I shared candidly about eating wild, ethical hunting, respect for wildlife, and taking respectful photos.
I did so hoping to inspire
a deeper thinking that may lead to more respect for wildlife and hunters alike.
(Original Post: 11/4/12)
Hunting season has been in full swing at our house for a couple of months now. As noted about our family,
we have a household of archers, hunters, & gatherers. We eat
wild game almost exclusively as our meat source. Our
children love it & have grown well on it. There are, on occasion, hunting & fishing
photos on this site.
This weekend began northern
Minnesota's firearm season on whitetail deer. I have a complicated mix
of feelings about this time of year. Growing up in a very rural area
& being property owners in one of the most hunted areas in the
state, the season has affected me all my life.
As children, my
siblings & I had to keep blaze orange in our backpacks so we
could wear it up our long driveway when we got off the school bus. My
dad did a good job of putting fear into us as kids.. a respectful fear
of the Mississippi water we grew up on, a cautionary fear of falling in
ice fishing holes, and a very rational fear of being safe out in the
open during hunting season.
Every hunting season there are
reports of reckless behavior & trespassing in our part of the
state. The main thing that would prevent those things, the main thing I
wish for each hunting season is RESPECT.
Respect for the woods.
Respect for property owners & boundaries. And above all -
respect for the wildlife that is hunted.
The point in
harvesting an animal, in my moral value, is to harvest food for
nourishment & sustenance for our family. I don't believe in
killing for sport.
I think if you hunt venison, it should be mandatory that you eat venison.
the animal for sustenance in the circle of life is the greatest respect
you can offer for taking it's life. Wasting it is senseless.
Respect is the key characteristic of a good & ethical hunter.
you respect the animal you hunt, you will care about treading lightly
on it's habitat. If you have respect for it, you will take
responsible, clean shots, as not to wound or cause suffering. (This
level of respect & responsibility would also prevent many senseless accidents involving
pets, humans, livestock, & property. Knowing you are making a
clean shot would mean knowing what you are shooting at.)
something that I feel strongly about is showing respect for the body of
the animal you harvest. Whitetail deer are beautiful animals. Be
thankful for that creature, and treat it honorably.
In a time of
social media, photo texting & endless visual communication.. I
shudder at the photos I see during hunting season each year. They do
not give hunting & hunters a good reputation.
You don't have to be a professional photographer to take a respectful picture.
hopes to see more respectful photos, and since I live with hunters
& have a fair amount of experience in
this department, I decided to share some tips.
These are simple steps that anyone can follow.
1. Consider the surroundings. Take
a photo in the location the animal was harvested, if possible. If your
deer is recovered after dusk, take a few moments the following day to
position it's body in an area free of buildings & obstruction.
We have done this on multiple occasions. Keep the surroundings as
natural as possible.
Whatever you do, DO NOT TAKE A PHOTO ON THE TAILGATE OF A TRUCK.
have the fortune of hunting on the property we live, so deer are
brought in from the woods by hand or ATV. I'm aware that in many/most
cases, people hunt in locations other than their homes, and vehicles are
used to transport animals. But vehicles are not (should not be) used
in the hunting of big game. Period. Tailgate photos give off a
number of very bad vibes of stereotypes in which I'll refrain from
mentioning. Take the time to remove your deer from any motorized
vehicle for a photo.
2. Position the animal respectfully.
your deer is in a nice spot, not on a tailgate, take time to position
it naturally. It feels odd to say, but you want your deer to look as
life-like as possible. I have seen photos of huge, majestic bucks on
the ground in a pool of blood doing the splits - all four legs splayed
out. It's completely dishonorable & I find it awful to look
at. That is not a photo worth framing (or sharing.)
3. Camouflage the chest cavity.
In most, if not all, of the hunting photos I've taken (including the
photos of my husband & son in this post), the deer has already
been field dressed.
Position the animal with the cavity tilted down & camouflaged by vegetation or snow.
4. Put it's tongue in it's mouth. If you do no other thing on the list but this, it will still improve your photo's respectability drastically.
5. Make them look their best. Use a rag to clean up visible blood, especially around the face.
Yesterday I saw a photo posted to facebook of a hunter with a small deer
on a tailgate, who's head looked as if it had been entirely dunked in blood. I found it repulsive.
I can easily see how viewing an image like this can taint the view of hunting & "hunters as a whole."
If you're going to take a photo, have the decency to clean it up.
If you made a terrible shot - it may be tasteful not to share a photo.
simply cleaning up & smoothing the coat, you're able to give a
few moment's respect & have time to appreciate the magnificence
of these animals.
6. Include your bow or gun in the photo. It helps to tell the story of your hunt.
7. Position yourself respectfully. Never sit on the animal.
8. Don't use your camera's flash unless you absolutely have to. This relates to Tip #2,
making the deer look as natural as possible. Flash makes deer eyes
glow. Glowing eyes are not natural or flattering.
This also coincides with Tip #1. Sometimes you only have the opportunity to take a
photo after dark. If so, then flash will have to do. But if you can,
invest the time to wait for a daylight picture.
morning, after many hours a day spent in the woods over the past
months, Mason (14) brought home this beautiful buck. I was humbled by
it's awesomeness. With a few minutes time & consideration,
Mason has a frame-worthy photo to look back on this day and this buck
I have to say, that after sharing this last year & this year, I have noticed at an increase in hunters I know who've shared much more respectful photos of their deer on social media sites.
And I'm glad.
Sharing with Our World Tuesday