by WADE SHAMBAUGH
Anyone who knows me, knows that I enjoy shooting and using all kinds of firearms and archery equipment. I also really like to cook and eat many different game animals, as well as fish. That being said, I have recently been spending a lot of time afield not with a gun or bow, or even a fishing rod, but with a camera.
Hunting with a camera can add a lot of days a year to hunter’s time in the field. I realize that there are many photographers who don’t hunt with gun or bow at all. I can appreciate that. To each their own. That just isn’t my path, and not the focus of this piece.
I recently went on an extended trip of the Western United States. I drove from West Virginia to visit family in Southern California. I then traveled through Nevada and Utah to join up with friends in Colorado and Wyoming, where we spent a couple of weeks photographing a variety of wildlife in National Parks and National Forests. I then continued on to Montana, where I visited the National Bison Range, and photographed still more animals. It was almost like getting to hunt in several great Western states, with a few differences. We didn’t need any hunting license. We could photograph animals in lots of places where hunting is not permitted. And we didn’t have to deal with the logistics of bringing meat, antlers etc. back home. All of those things add up to being much less expensive than actually hunting.
I did, however, spend the last part if the trip actually hunting with friends in Idaho, and brought back a big cooler full of elk meat. Then when I returned home, I was fortunate to take a nice West Virginia buck.
So, I definitely enjoy taking game animals, and getting the meat, but hunting with the camera as well has already added a lot of very enjoyable days to my time afield this Fall.
For a hunter wanting to spend more time in the outdoors, explore more places, experience more time around game animals and learn much more about them, photography is a great option. It’s a real eye opener what you can learn about different animals while trying to get a good photo of them. This knowledge can be very useful later when hunting as well.
The better equipment you have, the better photos you can get. But you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get some pretty good stuff. A $400 camera, with a built-in zoom lens, can take some pretty nice photos. Serious photographers may invest several times that in one lens. Like most activities, it depends on how far you want to go with it.
Give “hunting” with a camera a try. It can add to more days in the field, access to places where hunting is not permitted, help you to learn much more about animals that you are interested in hunting, and reward you with some great captured images that will last a lifetime and beyond. Happy hunting!
Wade Shambaugh has lived in Morgan County his whole life and is a lifelong outdoorsman.