You don’t have to be a camera pro to take a picture of your deer. But if you want to get a very good photograph-one worthy of a permanent place on your wall or mantle-you have to think like one. Here’s what Field & Stream contributing photographer David J. Sams advises you do to record an image that you’ll cherish for years to come:
**1. Move it. **Drag the deer away from brush or other dense cover so that it (and you) will be prominent in the photo. Get the animal up up on a small knoll or rise if possible, and keep distracting objects like buildings, fences, and vehicles out of the background.
2. Clean up. Use a wet cloth to wipe away blood from the deer’s nose and mouth, and place the tongue back in the mouth if it’s hanging out. Wipe blood and mud off your own face and hands if necessary, and straighten up your clothing and cap.
3. Prep and prop. Lay the buck on its belly and tuck the front legs underneath. If the deer is stiff or hard to pose, a log or stone placed behind the back shoulder can prop it up. The hunter should go behind the animal, holding the antlers near the base with as few fingers as possible-this makes the rack look bigger. If you include a gun or bow, the hunter can hold it or it can rest on the buck’s rib cage. (Make sure the gun muzzle is pointed well to the side.)
4. Get down. The photographer should sit or kneel to get lower than the buck. Look through the viewfinder and frame the antlers and hunter against the sky on a bluebird day, or against a distant line of trees when it’s cloudy. Shoot several photos from a variety of angles, and have the hunter turn the buck’s head slightly to capture different aspects of the rack.
5. Don’t skimp on film. Sams recommends using at least one roll per deer. A digital camera offers the advantage of instant feedback, allowing cameraman and hunter to see which poses work best. Keep shooting until you feel you’ve captured the perfect moment.