shotgun buck“Say Cheese!” These are often the words spoken after a successful hunt. You have spent cash, time, effort, and emotions to be holding your proud harvest. The priceless moment only happens once so get it right.

Take a lot of shots! We no longer pay for developing of photographs. Those days are long gone. New technology allows us to instantly share our moment with everyone. You can also take a video that can be stopped and printed. The shot will become a reflection of you, so take your time and get it right before your press “save”.

Fortunately, today’s cameras and cell phones take awesome pictures. You can instantly preview the shot, gain approval, or make some adjustments. Everyone is excited and “foto ops” are often taken in low light, quickly, or by a rookie photographer. Familiarize yourself with the special photo features that your camera is capable of. Perhaps a timer or selfie stick is in order. Take a few moments to make this picture one you can frame.

Like any great photographer, stage the shot. First think about the light. It is best for the light to be behind the photographer or to the side of the target. Beware that your shadow is not in the shot. Look at what is behind the subject. A background can compete with the subject. You may want to see the grandeur of the water or land. Remember that the subject needs to be the focus of your portrait. Hats tend to shade or hide faces, so tilt or lift them. Adjust the shot to take advantage of the best light.

Aim small, miss small! This phrase is as important when shooting a weapon as it is when shooting a photo. Less is often more. Get closer, then even closer. Try different angles such as laying down or going high. It is alright to not look directly into the camera. Try different views and have fun.

Please shove the deer’s tongue into the mouth. No one wants to see a bloody tongue hanging down. Wipe off any blood on the deer’s head or flank. Think about the bloody hunter’s hands and gear also. If the deer is gutted or has a gaping wound, turn the deer to a less obvious angle or cover it with the weapon or garment. Your goal is hopefully to produce a tasteful, respectful, and special moment that everyone can appreciate.

The photograph tells a story. Do you want to show a gory bloodbath or share a tasteful image of a successful hunter? If you used a bow, muzzle loader, or handgun, then add it to the shot. Perhaps a lucky hat is in order. If a special friend is with you, share the memory with them.

When you look at or share a picture, what is the takeaway? For many of us it is about a successful hunter with a beautiful trophy. Any deer that is harvested ethically, honestly, and legally is a trophy. Words like gross, nasty, or silence are not what you want to hear.

Camo clothing can hide the subject in the picture. Put on a bright colored hat or bandanna. Take off your coat and show a solid color garment. The picture is about you and the deer. Not the truck tailgate, parking lot, or dog behind you. Is your fly down? Are you required to wear hunter’s orange? Plan your photograph and it will end up framed on your mancave wall!

Technology can enhance a good picture or save a poor one. Using your home computer, you can modify and compensate for what you want. Cropping will reframe the picture perfectly. Often, a picture of you and the deer is all we need to see. Frame and crop the shot so just you and half of the deer are centered and focused. Sometimes black and white or other effects can personalize your shot. Photo apps can instantly help you present a wonderful final product.

 A Photo is worth a thousand words! Your photo memories can be stored digitally forever. You could post them on Facebook, websites, magazines, journals, or produce your own slide shows. Seminars can be supported with special effect features that display not only the deer but the camp, trip, friends, and all aspects of the event. Sharing these memories with family and friends is a wonderful way to further celebrate the hunt.

Here are some recent Danerholz images before and after. With just a little cropping and tune up, the picture displays a different perspective and image.

dannerholz_whitetail_deer_hunting_pa_39fixed four

dannerholz_whitetail_deer_hunting_pa_3fixed two

dannerholz_whitetail_deer_hunting_pa_10fixed three

dannerholz_whitetail_deer_hunting_pa_20fixed 5

dannerholz_whitetail_deer_hunting_pa_31jpgfixed one

Sorry that I can’t do anything about the tongues.

Be proud of a photo that shows you when you made a perfect choice!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, visit his website at