Along The Trail 10-27-16

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Editor’s Note: ‘Along the Trail’ is a weekly column written by David Hewitt of Switzerland County; and covers all things dealing with the outdoors, from hunting and fishing to woodsmanship.

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Lots of hunters are having success so far this season and it’s great to see.

But, what’s not great to see are some of the poorly taken photos of the hunters’ hard earned venison. I know, I know: every year I whine about the quality of hunting pictures that are shared on social media or on other forums. Admittedly, I’m an online junkie and between facebook and other Internet hunting sites, I view hundreds of photographs of hunters and their trophies. I’m far from what you’d call a photographer, but some of what is posted online from other hunters is down right embarrassing if not offensive.

I have no idea how many deer hunters read this column and I don’t want to come across as judgmental or arrogant, but there are the right type of hunting photos to share with the public, and then there’s the wrong kind to share.

Hunters as a whole are a drop in the bucket when compared to the numbers of non-hunters out there. At some point, we as a hunting community need the support from non-hunters and if we keep posting and sharing offensive hunting pictures, well, it would be easy for that non-hunter to become an anti-hunter.

Here are a few tips for staging some better photographs. Many of them are just common sense:

First and foremost, clean up the blood. Yes, when we hunt and have success, an animal dies and blood is drawn, but that doesn’t mean that our photos need to look like the scene of a crime. A little water and a few paper towels will do wonders in cleaning up your animal and making it look presentable. Don’t forget to clean yourself off as well and rinse any excess blood from your hands. Don’t let the tongue hang out of the deer’s mouth. There is nothing worse than seeing a great photo ruined by having the dead deer’s tongue flopping out. Place the tongue back into the animal’s mouth or remove it before snapping your photos.

No back of the truck pics! This is another big no-no. Try to get a few photos with the deer in its natural setting, the woods, a cornfield, along a tree line. Anywhere but splayed out in the back of a pickup truck.

Oh, and no hero photos. Don’t stand over the animal and straddle it while grasping it’s antlers. You’re not riding the animal like a horse, you’re supposed to be creating a memory and honoring the spirit of the deer.

Another idea, try not to post photos of the deer hanging from a gambrel, in a barn, from a tree, etc…I like to eat steak, but I’m not overly interested in seeing a side of beef hanging from a meat hook in a slaughter house; just as the non-hunting public isn’t interested in seeing your deer hanging from a tree limb.

And lastly, no skin, hide or just cape photos. I don’t understand why someone would take an animal that they feel worthy enough to have taxidermied and then share only a picture of the deer’s hide, head and antlers.

Lastly, smile! So many hunters refuse to smile in their photos. They should be happy with their success, it should be a time to celebrate. They’ve made meat and memories. So many hunters try to look tough or mean or come across as anything but happy. An honest smile says a lot about the character of the person in the photos we share.

I’ve probably made a few of my fellow hunters angry with my opinions and tips, but that’s okay.

When we as deer hunters take photos and share them in public forums, we need to understand that far more non-hunters see these pictures than do hunters. We are ambassadors for our lifestyle and the quality of our photos speaks volumes. If you’re like me, in years to come, you’ll look back on those pictures and relive the excitement of those hunts and the memories that were made.

It doesn’t take much effort to take tasteful photos for everyone to enjoy.

– David Hewitt