Hunting is a pretty popular past time and hobby in Michigan, especially in the area I live. I hunt too, but not in the way you might picture. I don’t have a bow or rifle. I don’t wear camo and I don’t use a blind or tree stand.
This is how I hunt. With a camera and a good lens.
When I first met my significant other, he introduced me to the idea of “hunting” — that is, driving the back roads of the county in the late afternoon to search for animals to “shoot” with a camera. Mostly we search for deer, but we also like shooting birds (especially birds of prey) and other little critters found in the woods and fields.
I do not hunt in the traditional manner and have no desire to do so. I’m not opposed to recreational hunting, as long as it’s legally done, not an endangered animal or the practice is not simply for a trophy. Use as much of the animal as possible. Eat the meat yourself or donate it to a pantry. Anyhoo, stepping off my disclaimer box.
We both use Canon DSLR cameras, though his is more advanced than mine. He has a nice kit of lenses and graciously lets me use his 70-200 telephoto while he uses his 100-400 lens. It’s a fun way to get out of the house and it’s a great way to practice shooting quality photos. Though I’ve come a long way in photography in the last two years even, I still need practice in different light settings. And the large lenses can be pretty heavy, which really test your ability to hold still enough to not only reduce motion blur but also keep animals like deer from running scared.
You might be surprised how tough it can be to capture an animal. They move at a moment’s notice and even the slightest twitch or movement can cause a fuzzy picture. Birds are especially skittish and very difficult to shoot while in flight. Sandpipers, like the baby one in the above photo, are the quickest little things!
The place I like to hunt most often is a large upscale community not far from home. It’s a large wooded area with homes on winding roads and random small lakes that prove to create a maze-like neighborhood. You wouldn’t believe it, but there are large numbers of deer in the vicinity, and most are so used to vehicles driving by they stay by the roadside and don’t even glance upward when you’re 5 feet away. Many will just stop and stare at you for minutes, unafraid. Shooting deer there is like playing a video game on easy.
I look for anything to photograph, but my boyfriend has a particular fondness for finding bucks — the bigger the better. Last year while hunting in the same upscale community, we saw a huge buck, probably the largest we’ve ever seen. His spread was magnificent and his presence commanded dominance. We named him Monstro and he got a few shots with the 70-200 because at the time he didn’t have the 100-400. Now that he does, we’re on the lookout from him and hoping to recognize him. Since there’s no hunting in that community, we’re praying the buck stayed in that area, safe and sound.
So, if you’re looking to improve your photography skills with your own DSLR, think about taking a short drive into the country and search for wildlife. If you don’t own telephoto lenses, they are always available to rent from BorrowLenses.com.