By Josh Boyd
One of the most dreaded days of any hunter’s year is that which signals the close of their favorite hunting season. A day of this nature brings to an end an activity that is held so dear and often sends an individual into a fruitless search for something to fill the void.
But what if your favored game season never had to end? What if you could make the pursuit of your favorite game species or multiple species into a year-round endeavor? While at first, this might seem like a work of fiction, there is a level of truth to such a hopeful prospect.
Though virtually every game season does indeed come to an eventual end, this typically only applies to the taking of game, not the taking of their photo. You might very well have to put away your gun or bow for a period of time, but a camera can be taken up in their place. Instead of shooting the game you seek with a round or arrow, trigger your camera’s shutter instead.
In much the same manner as you attempt to get close to a deer or turkey to be presented with a sound shot opportunity, the same applies to photography. Although a wide array of lenses, some of which can be quite far-reaching, do exist, the closer that you can get to your photo subject, the better your opportunities typically are.
This can easily bring out some of the same self-competitive nature that a hunter experiences during an open season. Just as you continually strive to become a better hunter, a photographer also strives to improve in their craft.
By photographing wildlife in the off-season, you also open yourself up to learn more about the game species that you target.
When seasons close, as it is common for an individual to be absent from the field, and therefore the game they so passionately pursue, for a lengthy period of time. This presents a relatively short window of opportunity for a hunter to study the habits of the wildlife they pursue.
Photography provides you with a reason to be afield with these game species year-round, allowing you to learn far more than you might have ever thought possible about their social hierarchy, habitat interaction, and various seasonal behavior. This information can all be utilized by a detail-oriented hunter to hone their woodsmanship and sharpen their prowess.
What Do I Need To Get Started?
To draw yet another parallel between hunting and wildlife photography, just like a hunter, a photographer can spend as much or as little on his or her gear as they want. While it is true that a professional photographer can easily wrap up tens of thousands of dollars in their cameras, lenses, tripods, and other miscellaneous gear, this is not at all a necessity for a beginner or someone who would simply like to experience what challenges photography presents.
In reality, today’s cell phone cameras have grown immensely from their humble beginnings in the not so distant past. Phones that once took grainy shots of ultra-low clarity now are capable of capturing high-resolution images, much in line with what many higher dollar cameras are capable of.
Advancements of this nature have provided a wonderful opportunity for beginning photographers, as an individual can now take decent quality photos on a device that they typically have in their pocket at all times, a phone.
As you progress in photography and begin to feel as if it is a hobby that you would consider on a long term basis, the gear that one can purchase is only limited by the amount of money that one feels comfortable spending. DSLR and Mirrorless cameras are both available to those that want to take their photography to the next level, as does an endless array of lenses in various magnifications.
How To Take Wildlife Photography?
While many wonderful photos can be taken in a setting similar to that experienced in a typical hunting situation, a number of variables exist that can limit your potential to consistently take quality photos. This is not to say that it is not possible to take excellent photos in a hunting scenario, as countless individuals do so every day.
Alternatively to taking photos in a hunting scenario, an individual can seek out locations where wildlife are already somewhat accustomed to people, therefore being far less likely to flee as you take the shots that you have come for.
At times, this can force one to think outside of the box. However, many individuals can find locations of this nature no further than a couple of hours from their homes. Do you live close to a park where deer are commonly seen? What about a field adjacent to a new subdivision that turkeys have refused to vacate? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you have found the destination that you seek.
The important thing to remember in a setting of this nature is that you must put thought into the background of your shot. As in the previous example of turkeys that reside close to a new subdivision, a $200,000 home might not make the best background for a photo of a strutting tom. However, as this tom maneuvers about, he might position himself in the edge of a field across the street. This would present a far more realistic photo opportunity.
A New Kind Of Season
This year, as your favorite game seasons come to a close, don’t fall prey to an acute case of cabin fever. Simply change your method of pursuit, pick up a camera, and shoot away. While you might not be able to eat a photo, you can certainly cherish the memory that it represents for the rest of your days.