Some people just have a natural gift or special talent that enables them to follow their dreams with a burning passion that makes life worth living. Outdoor Life contributing photographer John Hafner is one of those lucky individuals who have found a way to transform an undying love for photography and the outdoors into his dream job. Place a camera in Hafner's hands and he'll capture the types of images that will immediately transcend a hunter back into their favorite treestand at daylight on a cool autumn morning or at the foot of a long hardwood ridge during an early spring turkey hunt. For most of the year, Hafner spends his time in the field chasing after the perfect shot for a magazine cover or color lead photo that appears with your favorite hunting articles. However, it's safe to say that Hafner still loves to breakout his rifle and bow when the right opportunity presents itself. Last fall, Hafner temporarily set aside his camera lens for a shot of a lifetime at an absolute monster Kansas buck.
For three straight days, Hafner stayed locked into a tiny stand hoping to encounter one of those thick-necked heavy weights that rule and linger in the thoughts of every diehard whitetail addict. Finally, around 9:00 a.m. a buck that any photographer or hunter would love to shoot appeared out of the shadows. Unfortunately, the long-tined monster bedded down about 225 yards from Hafner’s setup, which initiated a painful standoff that tested the outer limits of the hunter’s patience.
Minutes slowly turned into hours and Hafner began to question his decision not to make a move on the bedded buck. About that time, two slick headed does walked straight past the lovesick bruiser and kicked the hunter’s excitement level up a few notches. Without hesitation, the buck sprang to its feet and began following the does right into the middle of the perfect opening. One deep breath and a gentle squeeze of the trigger dropped the biggest whitetail Hafner had ever pointed a gun, bow, or camera at in his life.
The massive 16-point buck gross scored in the 180’s, which made it look pretty darn good in Hafner’s pictures and even better on his wall.
With a buck like that, John should really consider laying his camera down more often.

BBZ Special: OL contributing photographer John Hafner puts down the camera and scores on a huge non-typical.