I can’t imagine not pulling out my phone and taking some pictures of every buck I shoot. Whether it’s a 6-pointer or big 10, every deer and the hunt for it is a treasure. Good photos help you preserve the memories.

Notice I said GOOD photos. And RESPECTABLE ones. Here’s how to take them:

  • Pose with a deer in the natural setting where you shot it–oak ridge, river bottom, swamp, etc. Try to avoid roads or houses in the background. Photos of a buck or your mowed lawn or worse, in the bed of a pickup, aren’t great.
  • Position the deer so that the sun shines on its hide and rack. That puts the sun somewhere at cameraman’s back and gives your photographs the best lighting. Watch for too many shadows on deer and hunter.
  • Clean up the animal. A little blood is okay and expected, but wipe off excess. I carry paper towels for this chore on every hunt—hey, never hurts to think positive! And make sure the tongue NEVER hangs out a deer’s mouth, nothing looks worse in a photo. I often cut the tongue out before pictures.
  • Clean up the hunter in the picture too (you or your friend). Again, a little dirt, grim or blood on your clothes or hands is to be expected, but wipe off the excess.
  • Have the hunter kneel or sit close behind the animal or off to one side of the rack (never sit on a buck, that looks creepy). Hold the rack out and away from your body so it will pop out.
  • But please do not sit or kneel way behind a buck and stick the rack out at arms’ length to make the antlers look larger than they really are. A lot of people (some outfitters, TV guys, etc.) do this to make a 130-inch rack look 150. But why? A 130-inch buck should look like a 130-inch buck in a photo. Keep it real.
  • You or your cameraman try to move around, get low and position the antlers so that they are highlighted against patches of open sky. They’ll pop out great. The lower you get when you photograph a hunter and his buck, the better. Sometimes I lay prone to get the best shots. Move around and take pictures from multiple angles.
  • Be sure you or your buddy has a nice smile or respectable look on the face in the picture. No dead-serious “me big hunter” looks. Look pleasant in pictures.
  • It’s fine to show your bow or gun with the deer, in fact I almost do. Hold bow or gun vertical and away from the rack so as not to obscure it. Make sure the muzzle of a gun is pointed safely away or up from you. I saw a picture the other day of a guy holding a nice rack in one hand, and his bow in the other raised high in some kind of weird he-man salute. Don’t do something like that, you didn’t conquer the deer, you just hunted him. Again, keep it real.
  • Move around and take dozens of pictures at different angles of a buck. You’re guaranteed to get 2 or 3 well-lit, well-composed and respectable photos to preserve the memories.