Going from shooting weddings to shooting a hunt–what a jump that is. There are some similarities but so many more differences.
On my first hunt, I was not there to actually hunt. I was there to capture the full hunt experience through my camera.
So, the first step for me was to start from the very beginning. What the heck do you wear? This being my first hunt, I had literally nothing to wear for this experience, like not-a-thing.
Luckily, I know some experienced women in the hunting world so they were able to point me in the right direction on what type of camo to buy (tip: you can’t go wrong with some True Timber. Just saying).
I went to go buy my gear online and ran into my first hurtle. Every woman’s favorite topic–sizing. I am plus size gal myself so this was tricky.
The next best thing was to find my nearest Bass Pro to try on what size would work best. That was an experience in itself but that’s probably another article on its own.
After I was able to get fitted with the proper camo, I was on to the next step. For me to plan out what gear I need for this experience.
Plan your gear
I already have a pretty good variety of camera gear from my past as a wedding photographer. I shoot with a Nikon D750, and at the time I chose to shoot with Nikon because I liked how the shutter sounded.
This will come up again in this article, so take note of that little tidbit. I pretty much brought all of the camera gear I have since I just didn’t know what to expect.
I got all of my gear packed, sprayed all the brand-new True Timber with tick spray, filled my suitcase, jumped on a plane and landed in Texas ready to dive head first into this new hunting experience.
Once we made it to our destination, Spike Box Ranch, we got settled in and went out to hunt right away! Like, right away (insert cold sweaty hands here). Oh man was I a tiny bit nervous. When I say tiny bit, I really mean pretty nervous.
Shooting a hunt
I grabbed my gear and was told to hop into a truck with a hunter and guide. I got to go with Karen Butler and it was an amazing opportunity! We were turkey hunting on the very last week of the season.
That phrase kept coming up during the week, so I picked up on the idea that this week might be harder to get a turkey. The surviving birds are now wise to us and harder to get.
We drove out to a spot and set up a pop-up blind. We placed out all of the gear needed, got comfy (or as comfortable as one can get in a blind) and got ready to be still–like super still–while we would wait for a Tom to come walking by.
I wish I could put into words what it is like to sit and fully take in nature. As a photographer, I find it second nature to pick up on the beauty around me.
We didn’t see much turkey-action that first evening, but I would say I learned the most in that very first time sitting in a blind.
Number one, my camera shutter is a bit loud for shooting a hunt. Funny isn’t it. The one thing that I loved about my camera from the beginning might be a bit of an issue. The irony is not lost on me.
Number two. What do you do if you need to use the bathroom? You learn to get pretty comfortable and one-with-nature.
Number three. How to use a turkey call. This was so much fun. There are a lot of different types of calls that you can use. I do not know the correct terms yet, but Karen and our guide showed me the proper way to use a few of the options. To learn how to apply the perfect amount of pressure at just the right angle is magic.
After the sun fully set, we headed back to the Lodge. Sitting at a long table and listening to everyone talk about how the first night out went and what they saw was definitely a major highlight of the trip. We all did our night time routines and then hit the hay to then get up a 4am the next morning and head out.
No, you did not read that wrong, 4 am. As in the butt-crack of the morning.
Rise and shine and ready to go. Don’t forget to shake out your boots for snakes before you put them on–just another pro tip for you.
I was sent with a different hunter and guide every day and also got to experience a box blind and “run and gun.” That is where you hike out to a spot, do some calling and chase your bird till you get a clear shot.
Each experience was amazing in its own way. In the box blind, I heard a Tom call back to us. There are no sounds like it. I don’t think I have ever been that still in my life! He played hard to get and teased us a bit, but I still wouldn’t change that experience for anything.
Running and Gunning is an experience all in its self. I think that it might be my favorite since you really get to experience nature in its truest form.
Going from shooting weddings to shooting a hunt is a big pivot. One that I am so lucky to get to experience. Being on that first hunt in Texas has definitely shown me not only the beauty there is to nature but the life changing experience that comes from hunting. I truly cannot wait to go on my next adventure with the Shoot Like a Girl team and Hunt Like a Girl.