Documenting Your Hunt

By Michael Marbach

Over the years I have spent hours behind a camera while viewing wildlife. It may have been with a still camera, game camera, a personal camcorder, or a high definition video camera. No matter where I was or what I was filming, it was always fun to play back the events or show off the pictures. Often times we would share the pictures or video the moment we got back to camp. Now we even take pictures with our phones while on stand and text them back and forth.

For years I have hunted with lots of different people who carry a camcorder to film their outings. It was a ritual to come back to camp after a morning or evening hunt and plug your camera into the television. We would listen, watch and interpret what we were seeing on the monitor. Most of the time we were looking at whitetail deer and it helped me to progress into a guide later in life. We spent hours aging deer, scoring deer, and patterning deer with our cameras. It is quite the educational tool.

A friend of mine, Bill Lockett, spends hours in the woods in pursuit of the perfect digital picture. Most of the pictures that Bill takes look fantastic to me. He has a critical eye and looks for the perfect light and focuses on his subject. Bill is fanatical about his equipment and heading into the woods at the perfect time to capture that photo of a lifetime, which means hours behind the camera.

I’m the Executive Director of the Christian Outdoor Alliance and our mission is to guide youth and outdoorsman to a relationship with Jesus Christ through experiences in God’s great outdoors. One way we do this is through our hunts and summer camp program. We have made photography and video a big part of our program as evidenced on our website with our pictures and video. We strive to take the best pictures and video possible so that the youngsters at our camp can show off their critters with a lot of pride. There is nothing worse than a photo or video that is taken with lots of blood on the animal or in the background. You want to be able to show Grandma the pictures of your trophy, and to do that, you have to be tasteful with your photos. It only takes a little bit of time to clean your trophy and prepare it for some excellent photos.

Some tips for taking photos of your trophy are simple. Prop the animal up with the legs tucked up under the animal. Spend time with water bottles and towels cleaning up the animal. Get the animal in a position so that the antlers or animal colors are not lost in the camouflage that hunters may be wearing. If the animal has antlers or horns, try and sky light the antlers and horns so that you can actually see the size, length, and outline. It gives you so much more perspective.
Over the years, we’ve had kids who love taking photos and videos of their hunts and we want to promote those activities. Learning to get close to wildlife with hunting equipment or cameras is challenging, but very rewarding. Taking a trophy with a camera can be just as rewarding as taking it with a rifle or a bow. When taking digital pictures or videoing an animal in the field we try to catch the animals in their natural habitat. As often times we feed corn on the roads that pass by our hunting areas, we will throw the feed along the trees and brush so that we can get quality photos of the animals.

There are all types of rules to photography, but to keep it simple, try to get the subjects in the full frame of the camera. The most common mistake is that people stand too far away or do not zoom in on their subject. A quality photo will show the details of the subject and is a clean photo. That is another reason to use digital, as you can download it to your PC and edit the photo as well.

Lastly, while you video your hunts you will build a library of lasting memories of your years of hunting. We go back to our videos time and time again as we see deer from years past and can look at our past videos to show their progress. As you get older it is also fun to look back at your time in the field and what the outdoors is all about.

Michael Marbach is the CEO of the Christian Outdoor Alliance. www.mycoa.org – 210-827-9802 – COA Mission is to Guide Youth and Outdoorsman to a relationship with Jesus Christ through experience in God’s Great Outdoors.  You can find his articles in Texas Trophy Hunter Magazine.