As western hunters we live and die by our good optics. You can walk a lot of miles in the desert and the woods and not see much, but as soon as you sit down and pull the binos out of your pack you increase your chances tenfold. This isn’t a hard concept to understand and not many dispute this tactic. We save up and spend our precious pennies on good optics so that we can increase our chances at being successful on our hunts. I am sure for most of us, the success of the hunt is based on so much more than just the kill. I want more than just the big buck. I want to remember the hunt and be able to share the entire adventure of the hunt with friends and family. Pictures and videos are the lifeblood of being able to share those experiences. Why don’t we treat our cameras the same way we treat our binos? Why aren’t they out of our packs and in our hands all the time?
No one that I know packs around $5k in optics in their backpack and never pulls them out. I can make a list, starting with my name at the top, of guys (a lot of good hunters too) who pack around the full gamut of nice optics and use them religiously, yet when it comes to cameras… not so much. They just stay in the pack, safe and sound and not doing them a damn bit of good. Yeah, I know that the camera comes out for a few shots when something gets killed but what about the rest of the trip? You took time off work, took time away from your family, you were gone for a week and you only took pictures for five minutes at the end when you shot the buck? What happened the other 6 days and 23 hours while you were gone?
An early 1900’s newsman is credited with the quote:
“Use a picture, it is worth 1000 words.” -A. Brisbane
I would take it further and say you don’t need to be a
professional or have the best camera –
Just take the cap off and take a picture; it is worth it.
Believe me, this isn’t a finger pointing exercise to readers out there. I don’t like to dwell on the past or focus on my regrets but bringing home more photos and video clips is a big goal for me for my family’s sake. I can honestly say that the most common regret among 99% of the trips (hunting or not) I have been on was coming home with too few photos. I plug my memory card into my computer and start to review them and all of a sudden I’m at the end. “What? Where are all the pictures I took? I remember taking more… didn’t I?” It wasn’t due to a corrupt memory card or a faulty camera, it was due to ME not taking my freaking camera out of its cozy bag and getting rid of the damn lens cap and clicking a few pictures every time I should have.
A few things played into me when I started to think about this matter this last year. For one, I saved up and spent the money to upgrade some of my camera gear. (If you think the cost of binoculars and rifle scopes are bad, I wouldn’t suggest shopping for a handful of camera lenses.) Secondly, I chose hold out on drawing any tags this past fall so that I could have a chance at some tags that I want to hunt in the future. The hunts that I made time to go on this year weren’t my own hunts, rather I was looking forward to tagging along with some family and friends on their hunts. To me, going with them is worth the sacrifice of not hunting for myself sometimes. The third factor that really left me with enough regret to make me sit down and write was one particular instance that I wished I had taken a picture.
My brother had a late season bull elk tag and we had a good hunt even though he didn’t get the bull we were after. My dad, brother and I had an out-of-the-way camp spot all by ourselves, shacked up in my grandpa’s old wall tent. It was one of those hunts I won’t forget. I took a few of pictures of some scenery where we glassed from and I took some digiscope pictures of a few bulls. We even got to help a friend get his first AZ bull with the same tag and of we course took pictures then. But I didn’t bother to use one of the eight tripods we had in camp to take a second and snap a picture of camp or a picture of the three of us together. This was the first time in a long time that we were all hunting together and I don’t have a picture of it.
For the record, I am not a professional photographer. That said, I have managed to take what I think are a a few well composed pictures. Looking back, I can directly attribute the picture being a “good one” to one key step: I pulled the camera out, took the lens cap OFF and took some pictures. When you start taking more pictures you will be amazed how many of them will be really good. Even when all of your pictures are not “wall hangers”, the mediocre pictures contain memories and are worth keeping too. Right now I would settle to have an over exposed, mildly blurry picture of that hunt, then nothing at all.
They say that most resolutions people make for the New Year are broken and forgotten in a month. Usually, I would simply not make a resolution therefore I wouldn’t be one of the masses failing in my resolve to change something. This year is different, I will take more pictures and I will share them and cherish them. You should too.