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CLAY BONILLA • 3/2013 • Texas • Rifle

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Lamar Jackson
Lamar Jackson

Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog

Entries for January 2011

A Story by Itself Cannot Stand

An outfitter friend e-mailed a well written story last month about a client’s hunt for a world-class black bear. Along with it, he attached several gorgeous images of the man and his trophy.

Six e-mails, a visit to a photo-sharing website and a CD-rom later, I reluctantly was forced to discard the story. The bear was a keeper and the story better than average, but the photographs – or jpegs – were simply too small.

Unfortunately, the lack of a publishable photograph is frustratingly common.

The poor or distasteful quality of the image is usually why it’s rejected. But its size is equally important. Without decent photo support, a busy editor isn’t going to waste time reading what could be the best written story or the most interesting tale ever committed to paper.

For magazine purposes, we need jpegs close to or larger than 1 Mb in size (that’s 1,000 Kb). The little ones look great on a computer monitor and even on photographic paper. But they will not work when resized for a magazine.

To ensure you’ll get usable images, set your camera so that it will take big photos. In many cases, you’ll have three options: small, medium and large, or small, better and best. Choose the “large” or “best” options. You might also be asked to choose when downloading and saving an image from your camera to your computer. Always choose the largest/best possible. You can always save smaller copies to be e-mailed, while retaining the larger ones for persnickety magazine editors.

The following tips will help you with quality.

[Read the rest of this article...]

True Grit

Decoys, calls, scents and even sacks of corn (where legal) might be far easier for hunters to carry afield, but folks who really want to lure a buck might consider lugging a mirror or a glass door into the woods.

Not a year goes by without news of deer, usually bucks, crashing into the glass doors or windows of homes, stores and even schools. When it comes to playing “chicken” with a rival, both the bucks AND their reflections win.


When a 5-point buck played the game in a Bentonville, Ark., home a few years ago, however, there was no winner.

Charging through a storm door at the home of Wayne Goldsberry’s daughter was not a good idea. Wayne was visiting, and he wasn’t about to sit by and let the confused whitetail do further damage to his pride-and-joy’s abode.

More of a take-charge dude than a shepherd, he peeked into the bedroom, where the bleeding deer was bounding back and forth across the bed, and decided to take matters into his bare hands.

After 40 minutes of wrestling, midway into which he limped out and told his wife to call the police, he waded back into the fray and broke the buck’s neck.

“He was trying to get up a corner wall, and I just came in behind him, grabbed him by the horns and started pushing down,” he told newspapers afterward.

When the deed was done, he dragged the deer out into the yard to wait for the law.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Tell-Tale Hart

I so love a good (or bad) pun, and this story about a ticking clock and deer -- with apologies to Edgar Allan Poe -- was just crying out for one.

I’ve written several times about whitetails’ curiosity, most recently about how the sound of a climbing stand biting tree bark can attract bucks. Now you can add the tick-tocking of a clock to the list of strange noises that, at the very least, deer find interesting.

Doug Strenke of St. Paul, Minn., has suffered a lot of friendly ribbing ever since he went public with trail cam photographs illustrating his extreme cost-cutting measure of hanging a $5 wall clock on a tree -- in front of his camera -- rather than spring for a more expensive unit with a time-date stamp. But he was an unemployed chemist at the time, and he wanted to know exactly when deer were appearing in front of the lens.

Not only did it work, but the photos also show that the deer -- including some nice bucks -- seemed mesmerized (not spooked) by the clock’s ticking. Doug knows they heard it because he could hear it from his stand much farther away.

Doug told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that before he added the clock to the setup, he wasn’t getting very many images of deer. Afterward, however, the shutter got a workout.

The Minnesota hunter didn’t catch one of the seven photographed bucks in the open while hunting, but he’s in no hurry to go out and buy a more expensive camera. He says he’s having more fun taking pictures than he is hunting.

[Read the rest of this article...]

When the Who in the Whodunit is YOU

I might’ve spent my days up a treestand in Pawnee County, Neb., Nov. 7-11, but my head was in Iberia Parish, La., for much of the time. To help pass the considerable dead spells, I read one of James Lee Burke’s paperbacks featuring protagonist Dave Robicheaux, the badge-carrying ne’er-do-well with a knack for catching bad guys as if they were fly balls.

Stephen King was my hunting companion near Snyder, Okla., the following month. The rut there was pretty much done, and the mature bucks were avoiding daylight like vampires. I should’ve gone a week earlier, I guess, but I needed a break after sitting in deer stands for two straight weeks.

Back in 2006, I spent three glorious weeks bowhunting the Dark Continent. I sat inside a water hole blind almost the entire time. I literally broke the hearts of about six magnificent animals, photographed dozens more, and I managed to read eight novels, all set in Africa.

Like most writers I’ve known, I’m a voracious reader. When I was a kid, I used to lie on my belly and pore over hunting magazines. I have to admit, too, that the writing back then -- mostly “me and Joe went hunting stories” -- was of a higher caliber.

[Read the rest of this article...]

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