Bestul: Make The Shot Count!

When the deer season is on I exist, for much of the time, in a sustained period of bliss. Events that would normally chap my hide suddenly become inconsequential, sliding past me like water off an otter's tail. There is, however, one exception…and it's unique to deer hunting: Lousy harvest pictures.

We all have our personal irritants, and mine is this: A guy shoots his proverbial buck-of-a-lifetime and instead of taking a little extra time to set up some nice photos, he turns a Kodak moment into a PETA ad. You've seen as many of these as I have; the plastic tarps, the rope-cinched necks, the sagging tongues and the pickup beds awash in plasma. I understood them better before the digital age, when most of us photographed with the snap-n-pray technique. But these days? There's no excuse.

Wisconsin hunter Ben Vasquez (pictured above) took the time to do things right when he shot this giant buck opening day of the archery season. He got a few nice night pictures when they first recovered the deer, then went a step--make that a leap--further and took the buck out for another session the next day.

I've got a whole series of shots, but they're all as good as this one; pretty setting, cleaned up buck, tidied up (and smiling!) hunter, and a photographer who clearly took the time to find the best angles to capture all those elements.

With a digital camera, this is a 20 minute process that you will never regret. I have the antlers or shoulder mount of most every buck I've taken in recent years. I also have at least one decent harvest picture, and I value the photo as much as the taxidermy. As for the Gerber-cute baby in this shot, I have to admit Ben is simply not playing fair on that one.