Taking great photos of your successful hunts should be something every hunter should do. Not only is it a great way to share your hunts with friends and family, but it also gives you a way to document memorable events in your hunting career. Knowing how to take good photographs of your game is often an overlooked process in preparing for your hunt. With just a few little tips and tricks, you’ll be on your way to taking professional looking pictures of your trophy.

First, we need to know what elements will make for a great trophy shot. Just by looking at a picture, you should be able to tell what time of year it is, what the animal was shot with, who the hunter is, and of coarse what kind of animal it is. So many times I see a picture of a deer in the back of a pick up truck with nobody around. For all I know, a car could have hit this deer and somebody stopped and picked it up. It is not very descriptive and is not an example of a nice trophy shot. So let’s take a look at what makes a nice looking photo.

The hunter should be in the shot. This helps to document the person that shot the animal. Years from know, you want to be able to look at a picture and see junior with his first deer or grandpa with his last deer. If they’re not in the shot, it’s just a deer. Anyone could have killed it. Having the hunter in the picture will also give you a time line as to when the hunt was. You, can reflect back and say, “look how skinny I was then”, or “wow that camo pattern was bad”, or “look at my bow, how did we ever hunt with technology like that?” Having the hunter in the shot also gives the viewer a way to scale the animal so we can tell just how big that trophy really is.

Another thing hunters don’t do, especially men, is not smile in the picture. Come on guys, you just shot a trophy that deserves documenting. Show us you’re happy to be sitting behind that animal and smile. All to often egos get in the way and guys try to look like tuff stuff. Leave the egos behind and show us those pearly whites.

Make sure your weapon is in the shot with you. The viewer should not have to ask you what you shot your trophy with. We should be able to look at the photo and tell right away that it was a crossbow, or muzzle loader, etc. Your weapon is also good to use to cover up an entry or exit hole too. So make sure we know what you killed your animal with.

Take your photographs in the habitat you killed your trophy in. Habitat tells a story. Were you in a swamp or a grassy plain? Are the leaves just starting to drop, or is there snow on the ground? Capturing the habitat and background in your photos will give the viewer a good sense of were you were, what time of year it was, and sometimes even how the weather was that day.

Take an extra few minutes and clean your trophy up a little before taking pictures. Nobody needs to see a big pile of guts or a bloody tongue hanging out. Bring some wipes with you to wipe extra blood from the animals’ nose and mouth. Try to clean up around the entry or exit hole too. If the tongue won’t stay in its mouth, cut it out. If you’ve already field dressed your trophy, gather some loose leaves or sticks to help cover any bloody areas. Having clean photographs will look more professional and if you’re ever lucky enough to get that trophy of a lifetime, the editors of your favorite magazine or website will thank you for it.

An inexpensive way to really give your deer that lifelike look is to purchase a set of eyes from your local taxidermist. They’ll slide in over the real eye just like a contact lens. They won’t reflect if your using a flash, and they really help if it took you a while to recover your deer and it has that sunk in eye look.

Don’t take pictures from above your animal. It makes them look smaller than they really are. It’s ideal to take them from eye level or lower. Make your cameraman lie on their belly or drag your trophy to higher ground so it is slightly elevated. It will give the impression that it is bigger than it really is.

Don’t forget to frame your subject before taking the picture. You should be able to see the entire body of the animal and the hunter. Don’t cut off the nose of the deer or the head of the hunter. Don’t leave two feet of space above the hunters’ head and two inches below the belly of the deer. Try to avoid using the zoom on your camera if possible. It is better to move closer to your subject rather than zooming into it. You will loose picture quality with most cameras the more you zoom in.

Having great trophy photos to remember your hunts by, far out weighs what little preparation you’ll have before taking them. Following the tips described here will help you to take professional looking photos that will provide a lifetime of memories. They will also be able to tell the story of the hunt, long after you aren’t able to anymore.