If you haven’t filled your tag yet, it’s going happen soon. And when you shoot that buck, your friends are going to want to see it, and you’re going to want a memento. That’s why being able to take a good field photo (which has somehow been horribly dubbed a “hero shot”) is so important. To me, this is every bit as important as taxidermy. Nothing captures the memory of how that buck looked and the place you hunted better than a good harvest pic.

I’m always a little shocked at how bad so many field shots are–especially when taking a good one is, in fact, not that hard to do. Early this month F&S Wild Chef David Draper and I were on an Oklahoma hunt together. Draper shot a beautiful, mature 6-point on the last afternoon, and I was there for his photo shoot (go here for one of [Draper’s best shots](/blogs/south- central-rut-report/2012/10/bucks-acting-rutty-weeks-early-western-oklahoma)). After taking some photos of Dave and his deer, I took some frames of Van Holmes, a rep from Yamaha, as he shot some pics of Draper. This photo illustrates some of the keys to taking a great field photo, including:

[1] Clean the deer up (wipe any blood off the mouth, nose, and carcass with a wet rag) and get him up on a rise or knoll. This makes the deer look particularly impressive.

[2] Have the hunter stay in full field gear and tip his hat up so his face isn’t covered in shadow.

[3] Find a spot that captures the habitat. The foreground grasses and wide-open skyline, here, are a perfect reminder of Oklahoma’s sprawling prairie.

[4] Skylight the antlers, if possible. If horizon is hard to find, pose the buck with his antlers against a high-contrast background; a white-racked buck looks great against dark spruce timber or red oak leaves, for example. Keep brush and weeds out of the background immediately behind the rack.

[5] Shoot the photos from a position slightly lower than the hunter and deer. Nothing shrinks a deer like shooting from an elevated position. Note how Van is not only downhill, but also kneeling.

[6] Try different angles. Move around to capture different angles of the deer and background. Also, have the hunter turn the buck’s head highlight different aspects of the rack.

That’s it. Sound difficult and time consuming? We dragged Draper’s deer onto that knob, cleaned it (and Dave) up, shot the heck out of it, and loaded it back up in less than 15 minutes. Not a bad investment for photos that will last a lifetime.