Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It’s a concept that has been around since before the time of Christ, and major literary luminaries down through the ages, across the cultures, and around the globe have put their own twist on this idea that beauty is subjective — different people see beauty differently.
We can all agree that wildlife is beautiful. That’s one reason hunters try to preserve the beauty of the trophies they take. We mount the antlers from deer. We save the spurs and beards and tailfans from turkeys. Sometimes we use taxidermists to recreate the animals in all their glory.
But we don’t preserve our trophies just because they’re beautiful. Another reason is to help us recall the memories, and we have no better way to preserve the moment than through photographs.
Antlers and mounted deer heads can last beyond a lifetime. Quality turkey mounts can also last indefinitely. What will happen to your deer heads and your collection of turkey beards and spurs after you’re gone?
Your deer heads may end up on the wall at some Cracker Barrel restaurant and no one will know you were the hunter. If you’re not careful mice may get to your gobbler beards. Bugs might nibble feathers and fur on predators and prey animals alike. But photos are forever, and in this digital age they can be more immediately, more easily, and more widely shared than mounts.
Taxidermy needs dusted and maintained. Heads can be hard to move and they don’t fit every décor. Fires and floods can ruin them. Even the best taxidermist will agree — go ahead and hire him to mount every animal, but don’t neglect the most lasting and least expensive way of preserving your trophy. Get a good photograph that can be shared anywhere without anyone coming to your home.
As for printed photos, they don’t take much space. A photo can be set on a table or shelf, hung on the wall, or added to a photo album. Many photos can be displayed in the space it takes to exhibit one mount.
For me, the hunt isn’t over until I get at least one good photo. I try my best to take photos of any gobbler I shoot, in or near the setting where I harvested it. I will arrange it to look good. I will take photos from several angles. I will get close, to eliminate anything irrelevant or distracting.
My goal is to get photos I am proud to share. For me, a good photo is almost as much a trophy as the gobbler itself. I suggest you take the time to make yourself a trophy photograph. It’s not difficult. It doesn’t matter whether you set an expensive camera on a tripod, or fasten your smartphone to a selfie stick. Both methods can produce good photos that will outlast you.
Even if your descendants love hunting and will someday hang your taxidermy on their walls, they’ll appreciate the photos of you with your trophy even more. When you’re gone, you will be more important to them than the animals you killed anyway.
A photo of you with your trophy gives them both. A photo is an actual moment in time so it’s less subjective and more objective. That’s the reason we appreciate good photos from every culture and every age. So spend more time preserving your hunts through photographs. You, and other people too, will be glad you did.
When “The Everyday Hunter” isn’t hunting , he’s thinking about hunting ,
talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting. If you want to tell Steve exactly where your favorite hunting spot is, contact him through his website, www.EverydayHunter.com. He writes for top outdoor magazines, and won the 2015 and 2018 national “Pinnacle Award” for outdoor writing.