Say Cheese

As the digital age matures the quality of photographic images continues to increase, but it's not speeding along at the same pace in the hunting world. I still see images of big bucks, even monster bucks, propped up in the back of someone's pickup truck. Adding insult to injury it's still common to see those same bucks with tongues hanging out further than Gene Simmons in the middle of a head-banging concert. Blood, arrows and other inappropriate elements also invade many hunting images.

Enough is enough! Every buck you shoot is a trophy so why not preserve the memory by giving both you and the buck a little respect. Now is the time to prepare for the best hunting images ever this coming fall. Begin by shopping for a new camera. The quality of point and shoot cameras has skyrocketed in the past several years while the size, simplicity and price has dropped. You no longer need a photojournalist-quality camera to take great trophy shots. My go-to camera is a tiny Nikon Coolpix S6000 with 14.2 megapixel quality, a 7x optical lens and HD video capabilities. I can shoot photos and video clips with the same camera.

To get the most out of your point and shoot follow these rules. First, set the camera to store the images at the highest or nearly highest resolution, and dial in the automatic setting. To help the camera out in bright light tip the bill of your ball cap back and turn the flash on to fill in the dark shadows under the hat. This is called fill flash and nearly all cameras today have that capability.

Next, find a suitable background other than the back of a truck or the front of Rosie's C-Store and Taxidermy Shop. I like to show some of the natural background whether it be timber or a wide panoramic view. It reminds of the hunt and the location.

With a location in mind it's time to clean up the buck. I prefer to shoot my images before field-dressing if it doesn't jeopardize the quality of meat. This way you don't have to deal with extra blood from the body cavity. Wipe all blood away using paper towels and minimal water. Diet Coke works in a pinch. This is when you get rid of the tongue. Push it back in or slice it off. Blood generally seeps from any wound, whether bullet or arrow induced, so you may have to put a twisted paper towel into that hole as well. Now you're almost ready for the photo.

Make sure the buck is propped up on its legs, resting squarely on its belly. This will emphasize the buck's body size. If you are using flash, purchase a pair of deer taxidermy eyes (www.vandykestaxidermy.com) slide them over the deer's natural eyes. When the flash hits the glass eyes, they won't show up as green ghost eyes commonly seen in many trophy shots.

Finally, clean yourself up. Check yourself for blood stains and ditch any hat with inappropriate phrases such as "God's Gift to Women." You're not. Lastly, smile. My pet peeve is hunters who shoot record-book bucks, yet look angry in photos. What's up with that? Were they forced to hunt? Do they hate deer? Smile, smile, smile.

Send us your photos this fall and they better look good!