Passion for Wildlife Photography (Part 8), Hunting vs. Wildlife Photography


Hunting vs. Wildlife Photography

Young javelina attracted by corn under log.  Shot from blind.
Young javelina attracted by corn under log. Shot from blind.

Similarities

Both disciplines require knowledge of subject, i.e. where and when to find the animal. What does their behavior indicate? The hunter and photographer can both gain useful knowledge from signs that an animal is present  – tracks, scat (cat, bear, etc.), rubs, scrapes (deer), slides (otter), broken branches and claw marks on tree (bear), freshly gnawed logs near a beaver lodge or dam (active beaver), paths through vegetation, etc.

Game calls.
Game calls Found at hunting stores – Bass Pro, Dicks’s, and Cabelas.

At times hunters attract animals using decoys, game calls (predator, courtship, challenge}, camo clothing or netting for concealment, cover scents (fox urine, skunk), baiting, stalking, or blinds/hides So can the photographer. (see later blog).

Gille suit used to hide from wildlife.  Option to a blind.
Ghille suit used to hide from wildlife. Option to a blind.
Shot during a workshop in SD.  The workshop group tracked a herd of pronghorn.  Eventually the male left herd and approached us . It stop, stared and slowly turned around and walk away with his females. Guess we were to ugly for his herd.
Shot during a workshop in SD. The workshop group tracked a herd of pronghorn. Eventually the male left herd and approached us . It stop, stared and slowly turned around and walk away with his females. Guess we were to ugly for his herd.

Differences between hunting and photography (besides the obvious that the animal can walk away).

Hunting depends on concealment & you can successfully bag your prey at 100 to 200 yards. On the other hand, photography depends more on acceptance and the shooting distance is much closer (mallard, ¾ frame, @ 30 feet w/600 mm lens.) Much of the time photographers cannot approach the animal close enough to be able to photograph it successfully without being seen.  Therefore stealth is critical and the ability to carefully approaching the subject in a non-threatening way (see later blog on stalking techniques). Approaching from the water can make the task easier whether you are wading in the surf or photographing from a canoe or kayak. It appears that without your legs showing you are not perceived as a threat. The animal’s curiosity also acts in your favor.  These factors do not mean that blinds and camo cover should not be used when required.  

Painted bunting.  Because of the bird's small size, used a 600 mm lens with 1..4 tele-converter for this shot. Was at my closest focusing distance.
Painted bunting. Because of the bird’s small size, used a 600 mm lens with 1..4 tele-converter for this shot. Was at my closest focusing distance, less than 15 feet away.
Waded into the icy waters of Iceland for this shot.  Curiosity drew him closer to me.
Waded into the icy waters of Iceland for this shot. Curiosity drew him closer to me.

Stallking & the use of blinds – see upcoming blogs.