This is a fun and interesting topic. I went on a paid hunt and it was an absolute production after I shot my animal. The hunting guide, the track, the skinner and the outfitter then go to work! The hunting outfitter decides where the sun is and background to take the best photo. Then the tracker or the PH will start cleaning up the blood from the animal and making sure the fur looks perfect. Another person will start clearing out brush in front of the animal for the best photo while the expensive cameras are brought out and cell phones for the outfitter. He will roll out a blanket, position you and the animal and take all kinds of photos with several different cameras. Afterall, this is how outfitters make sales for the next hunting season. Plus, this is a memorable moment for the hunter that he/she paid good money for.
So Kill Photos – Are they important, of course! All information is important when selecting a place to hunt. Are they great to look at? Does the more kill photos an outfitter have make you feel warm and fuzzy? It should. There are arguements for and against this, but I think the more information the better. One of the main arguments would be, “So if an outfitter has 1000 kill photos, were they hunting a million farms with 1 billion hunters out from China? If so, then are those are great success rates?” A bit of a radical example, but it helps illustrate one side of the argument. Don’t outfitters lease new land all the time and advertise low pressure? So then what do those kill photos have to do with the next hunter? I’ll say it has to do with the skill and ability of the Kentucky hunting outfitter to put his hunters in a good place to hunt.
What if there is a new ambitious person who has entered into the business of selling deer hunts in Kentucky? They won’t have kill photos. Well, unless outfitters in Kentucky start accepting food stamps, the free market will make things relative. If the demand outweighs the supply, then prices will be high across the board. I think outfitters adjust prices to the market and it’s more likely that if services are less, then the prices will reflect that.
CONCLUSION: When all else is equal, get all the information you can.
Trail Cam Photos – Is this good information? Certainly! Assuming it’s from the property you’d be hunting of course. With the advent of Google image searches, I don’t think any outfitter across the nation is dumb enough to cheat you. Out of 100’s of photos, they could make a mistake, but 99.9% of the deer on outfitters websites came from property they own, owned, lease or leased. Do I sound like an attorney sometimes?
These photos are offering you what you have a chance to shoot vs. photos of deer shot and killed you have no chance to shoot. That could be an interesting way to look at it. Trail cam photos are wonderful! But don’t get sucked in to turning this into a soccer mom’s day out at the mall looking for the latest and greatest Gucci handbag to buy. There are arguments on both sides of this. As a person wanted to go on a trophy deer hunt, I want that outfitter working 100+ hours per week for 20 cents an hour, checking cameras, spending $10,000 on cameras and burning up $1,000’s of dollars in batteries. What do I care if people steal his cameras, he can buy more and put more up and report to me weekly! LOL. Well, this is the attitude of some hunters, but a very small percentage. I know some outfitters that simply don’t fool with much of this stuff because it turns into a great job than actually managing the deer. Liming, fertilizing, disking, planting, filling corn feeder, etc., that’s “fun”. Camera work is a great way to get business, but I personally feel it’s working the outfitters into the ground. But hey, good for hunters! I try to look at both sides of the coin.
Kentucky whitetail outfitters strike a good balance between disturbing the land checking cameras and checking the cameras enough to satisfy hunters. It’s a give and take. 100%..it’s a fact, you would have higher success rates if there were no cameras! This is a fact. 100% it’s also a fact that if outfitters didn’t put out cameras, they’d lose money and couldn’t pay for the land. It’s just a balancing act and only the person with the gold makes the rules. In this case, it’s the hunter choosing what they want to do. When in doubt, take all the information you can.
CONCLUSION – Trail cam photos are great!