About The Author

Kim Hiss, an associate editor at Field & Stream, has hunted ducks, antelope, turkeys, and deer throughout the country, enjoying a number of women's hunts along the way. She lives in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Click here to email Kim.

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« Eighth Grader Gets 7 x 7 Elk | Main | Proud Sister »

December 13, 2007

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Roll Camera!

     If you came to the blog via the Field & Stream homepage today, you likely spotted our gallery of photos from women hunters. It's forty pictures of females from all over the country, posing with deer big and small.
     Of course all those photos got me thinking about the stories behind the hunts they commemorated, but they also got me thinking about the photos themselves. The actual taking of that well-deserved shot is such an interesting part of the hunt -- the setting up, the positioning, the subsequent e-circulation of the images to everyone you know -- a lot of people approach their photos in a lot of different ways.
     As for me, my early experience with hunt photos sparked a personal dilemma: to smile or not to Kim_2 smile. I wonder if I'm the only hunter who's fretted over this particular problem. It started like this. At the end of my first hunt, I posed with a muley, a .270, and a big smile on my face. (That's me at right.)
     But when I got the photos back, the smile made me feel just a bit guilty. Sure, at the moment the photos were taken I was happy about a successfully completed hunt. But viewing the images back home, I wondered if the smile was somehow disrespectful of the deer.
     So, on a later hunt for antelope, when it came time for the guide to take pictures, I tried not to smile -- at least not very big. When I got those pictures back, the lack of smile looked Hbird012 ridiculous -- why should I be so serious at the end of a successful hunt?! (That's not me at right, but you get the idea.)
     Nowadays, of course I bust out a grin! At a moment when you've earned the right to feel all that pride, relief, and excitement, there's no reason not to!
     Facial expressions aside, I'm curious to know how other hunters approach their own pictures. Do you spend a lot of time setting up the perfect portrait, or just snap a few quick shots and get on with the field dressing? Do you worry about hair and make-up, or just go natural? Do your pictures tend to come off without a hitch, or have you had a photo shoot go awry? And here's an interesting one - have you ever taken your mount to a Sears Portrait Studio? I know someone who was so excited about her 10-point, she did just that! -K.H.


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Having just experienced my first "Photo Shoot" I can definitely say it was all smiles. It was pretty dark by the time I got the doe in so pics were after it was hung. I smiled and never thought otherwise, everyone was so happy for me and I was so excited as I have never harvested a deer before but I worked hard all year, practicing shooting skills, tracking, hiked up mountains for strength training and everything paid off. I came off the logging trail with doe in tow and my hunting buddies were there waiting with hugs and pats on the back. It was a small doe but those guys were as proud of me as if I got a 10 pointer. I will treasure those photos and the memories that they represent forever and I couldn't help but smile it was such a joyous celebration.

NorCal Cazadora

Oh, thanks Huntress! I always smile, but now I'm gonna feel guilty!

Seriously, though, it is a good issue. I can't help but think of one of my favorite old movies, Predator and its sequel, where the humans are the prey. How would I feel if I saw a picture of someone holding up, say, my slain mother with a big smile on its ugly alien face?

But then I think, oh lord, I've already made the decision to kill. And I don't take killing lightly. But when I do it well (or these days, being a new hunter, when I do it at all), I'm happy, and I'm not gonna hide it.

Great issue, though! Thanks for getting me thinking about it.

Kimberly Hiss

Oh no, don't feel guilty! Those feelings on my part were just early insecurities of a novice sportsman. Again, nowadays, I love to see a big old smile -- both in my pictures and in those of my friends. Any successful hunter has certainly earned it! -K.H.


I don't usually have the dilemma of deciding what to do in that ONE harvest picture because I take MANY pictures of the event... smiles, no smiles, weapon, no weapon, harvest and me, harvest only, repositioned in different positions (harvest and myself), and from different levels. Thank the good Lord for DIGITAL.

For instance, my husband just shot an awesome trophy buck in Kansas 3 weeks ago and I took over thirty pictures and even took some pictures from the stand he shot him out of, the buck lying where he piled up and my husband walking down to the buck while filming it. I have to be honest and say about 5 of those pictures were not good; eyes closed, mouth open, head turned, or background issues. I learned with my first harvest last season that you can never have too many pictures. I am limited to just a few low quality pictures of my first deer harvest and NONE of my turkey harvest. I went out and bought a dSLR camera shortly thereafter.

And having a great photo manipulation software makes the big difference.

Judy Black

My sister has told me time and time again that I never look happier than when I have my picture taken with an animal I have harvested.
My husband is the photographer when it comes to our hunting pictures. He spends alot of time making sure that they are taken right. Standing up, laying on the ground, he gets every view imaginable and does a very good job at it. I, on the other hand don't do as well.
You can look at our pictures and know who took them. His are perfect, mine are the ones with missing hats, feet, and way too much area around person being photographed.
Every animal harvested is worthy of a photo no matter how big or small. They are memories that will last a lifetime.
I never feel guilty because I smiled, I smile because I am proud of my harvest.
Happy Hunting Judy

Laura Bell

I always have a smile on my face when taking harvest photos! Can't help it! I wouldn't pull the trigger if it wasn't something that I won't be proud to take and be happy about it afterwards.

Now the real hassle if getting the right picture.
I remember when I got an 8-point on 2005. I didn't have the camera with me at the time and so we loaded him up and took him home to show off. Then came taking pictures. I wanted the shots to be in the woods not off the tailgate or in the yard. As much as my family tried to talk me out of unloading him again we ended up driving to a wooded part of our property and unloaded him and took pictures. Most turned out great, but some that didn't. Just make sure you take a lot, you can never have to many.
One problem I seem to have is getting my family to take them the way I want. Lol I'm always saying "fill the frame, that's enough of that angle come over to this side, does this make him look bigger lol."
They may make me take the pics by myself one of these times! lol

Steve M. Scruggs

The happiest day of my life was when my wife turned to my in the deer stand and said she was tired of watching me do all the shooting and now she was ready to harvest a deer.
Since then she has killed a 7 and 10 point buck and we hunt together all the time.
This has made me smile!!!!!!!111

Doug Doty

There's nothing at all wrong with smiling in photos with game taken and is not disrespectful to those animals. I smile in every photo with game taken. Every animal killed is a trophy, and you have the right to be happy about your success in the field.

Matty Boy 2000

Your damn right Doug Doty. I'v only killed one deer @ 12years old & i smiled.