Taking Trophy Photo's

Posted by: Cody Altizer on Sep 9, 2012
Page 1 of 3

Bowhunting is a sport that graciously gifts it’s hunters with a wide range of emotions.  Many hunters describe a bow season as a rollercoaster ride.  With as many ups and downs every bowhunter is sure to experience; I’d say that’s a fair assessment.  When we’re finally blessed with a shot opportunity, some hunters are calm, cool, and collected while others nearly fall out of the tree from shaking so much.  Those who have never experienced it wouldn’t understand. 


There is a lot more to taking a quality picture of your trophy than you might think.

However, recovering a downed deer simply creates a feeling that cannot be described with words.
As hunters, we wish we could get that feeling back.  I know I’d personally give up a lot to be able to revisit how I feel when I first spot antlers sticking up through the grass, or see a white belly contrasted against a brown forest floor.  Unfortunately, though, we cannot.  We can, however, preserve those memories through harvest pictures; and I’m talking about just a couple lazily snapped shots before you throw the buck in the back of your truck. I’m talking about the kind of images that stir the emotions of the hunt and immediately take you back to that fateful day.  Here’s a “how to” guide to taking the perfect harvest photo once you’ve recovered your deer.

Respect the Animal
Chances are you worked incredibly hard to harvest that deer with your bow.  Chances are, you want to share this deer with your buddies on Facebook, twitter, or maybe just a 4x6 printed copy; (yes, people still do that believe it or not).  Before taking any trophy shots with you and your deer, do your best to clean up the animal.  It makes for a better photo, and gives the animal the respect it deserves having given its life for the moment.
Bowhunters like blood, and lots of it.  We rely on our broadheads to deliver devastating blood trails that help us recover our game more quickly.  However, a bloodied deer makes for a tasteless harvest photo. 

To remedy this problem, I always carry a bottle of water and some old rags.  A properly shot deer will usually bleed from the mouth and nose, sometimes profusely.  No rocket science here, just use your water and rags to remove the blood and restore the bright whiteness of a deer’s chin.  Also, if your deer died with its tongue exposed, put it back in. If it doesn’t want to go back in, or its jaw is locked shut, then you may have to cut the tongue out.  It will make for a much better picture in the long run. Once your deer has been cleaned and prepped for the photo, it’s time to position it for the shot.  My personal favorite position is what I call the “bedded position.”  Simply tuck the deer’s legs up under its body to give it a more natural look.


Cleaning your trophy PRIOR to taking pictures makes for a better photo and shows respect for the animal. Remember, not everyone who looks at your photo may enjoy seeing blood despite the fact that it is part of the hunting process. 

Further, I like to have the hunter positioned as far behind the deer as possible and, if it’s a buck, have the hunter hold the buck’s rack as far away from their own body as possible.  It’s not secret as to why hunters do this.  This really accentuates the buck’s size and it makes the deer look bigger.  Also, I think the deer should be the focal point of the photo anyway.Finally, position the camera / cameraman at eye level with the deer or slightly below if possible.  Again, this increases the deer’s size, is more natural looking, and just makes for an overall better photograph. 

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Cody Altizer

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1 Comment on "Taking Trophy Photo's"

Re: Taking Trophy Photo's #
Well said Cody, I couldn't agree more. I'm a rifle hunter from the UK (bow hunting is illegal) but I follow the progress of the guys on bowhunting.com with great interest every year. What impresses me the most is the passion for hunting that you all show and the respect for the deer you hunt. This respect must carry on after the deer is culled and treating the carcase carefully and displaying the deer as tastefully as possible is really important.
Posted by Andy Smith on 9/10/2012 11:31:06 PM

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