Saturday, I had the pleasure of shadowing 8 young hunters at K-D Hunt Club, north of Sioux City, Iowa, for a Youth Pheasant Hunt. Although I’m not keen on guns, I do enjoy photographing people who use them. I also like the untamed parts of Iowa’s landscape, which presents challenges down to the individual blades of prairie grass that engross its surface. The plants have a nasty tendency to lead a camera’s autofocus astray, blurring the main action in exchange for a clear photo of their leafy strands swaying in the wind.
I decided on my drive home that my “shooting” the event with a camera possessed similarities to those who used hunting rifles. As we marched across the rolling landscape, we scanned the ground carefully for pheasants, considering where each member of the hunting party was positioned as well. (Those who walked too far ahead of the line presented a safety risk.) For my purposes, I kept tabs on my companions for aesthetic reasons — my effort to compose a good photograph. However, I can’t dismiss the adrenaline rush every time a rooster jostled the underbrush to get away. Whether any of us would get a clear shot remained a surprise until a bird either smashed into the ground or swooped ahead to land in a distant field, out of sight.