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All I Want is a Photograph

Snap away. Once that moment is gone, you will never get it back. Trust me.

By Tim H. Martin

Until I became Buckmasters Online Editor, I was Rack Magazine's Art Director for 14 years. It never ceased to amaze me how few hunters took the time to photograph their bucks, even the GIANT ones.

I had to pass on countless 200-plus-inchers for magazine covers simply because the hunter had either taken one or two gosh awful photos with a cell phone, usually in the back of a pickup truck littered with trash or, worse, hanging at the processor.

A little extra effort would have earned those people an honored place on a Rack cover, not to mention the preservation of memories they'd treasure someday in their own photo albums.

After years of experience, I can honestly say that photographs are the truest time-tested trophies a hunter can keep, even more so than taxidermy.

Take for instance the bucks I had mounted back in the 1980s. In 2013, they look more like bug-eyed donkeys with the mange than the sleek, gorgeous animals from my distant memory.

But the photos in my old hunting albums will forever remind me how beautiful they looked the day of the hunt, and the images instantly take me back to a time and place where the memory was made with special people in my life, some of whom have passed on.

Unfortunately, I learned the importance of photos the hard way.

In 1977, my father took me deer hunting for the very first time. As we stalked through Alabama's Talladega National Forest, we jumped a herd of deer, and Pop made a quick shot, dropping a small 3-pointer in its tracks. I looked on in amazement and was hooked on hunting ever since. My father, however, has since traded hunting for a camera and paintbrush and hasn't picked up a rifle since that day. That was 36 years ago.That will remain one of my fondest outdoor memories, but I'm sad to say, we were in a hurry and didn't take a single photo. Oh, what I'd do to have just one image of the two of us kneeling down with that special and final buck! It would have only taken us a couple of extra minutes.

When my son got his first buck in 2012, believe me, I took lots of photos. I wasn't about to make that same mistake twice. And I won't let my friends make that mistake, either.

Whenever someone on my hunting property takes a deer, I refuse to help load it on their truck until we have a quick photo session.

They sometimes get a little annoyed, especially if it's cold and dark, when I ask them to take a minute to roll the buck (or doe) on its brisket and kneel down beside it while I get the camera. I flop down on my stomach and start snapping away, often by the headlights of a vehicle, taking photos at different angles and coaxing them to laugh. I know if I snap 30 shots, one might turn out clear, sharp and in-focus.

Years later, several buds have thanked me for taking their photos, which have turned out to be priceless to them. It does my heart good to see a photo I took eventually winding up in a frame on their bookshelf.

Friends, take the time to take photos, and lots of them. Once the moment is gone, you will never get it back. We all get in a hurry to field dress our trophies and go home, but the real trophies will be the ones you upload from your memory card. Someday, those images will be worth their weight in gold. Trust me.

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