HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
November 20, 2006, Herald Journal

Pictures with dead animals


I would like to address this phenomenon that occurs when a hunter kills an animal, and is suddenly overcome with some innate urge to have a photo taken with the so called ‘trophy.’

I understand a man’s primal instinct to hunt animals for sport, and to provide food for themselves and their families. I get it.

Those instincts are hard to argue with when a two-year old boy uses a stick as a gun, and aims at any animal or thing that catches his eye.

It’s obviously in the blood, and who am I to judge this behavior.

However, women are starting to take an increased interest in hunting these days. That’s fine, too.

The troubling aspect comes into play when photos must be taken of the hunter with a fresh kill.

The invention of cameras only has proliferated this phenomenon. Ancient hieroglyphics depict hunting scenes, so it seems this phenomenon has roots just as deep as the urge to kill for food.

I wonder if, in today’s fast-paced life, would a man take the time to chisel a picture of his fresh kill into a rock?

The answer, I believe, would be yes.

Personally, I do not care for pictures of hunters with furry or feathered dead animals. However, I don’t mind photos of people with dead fish.

I guess I would be kind of like a vegetarian who eats fish. Let me just say, in my opinion, you cannot be a vegetarian and eat fish. Period. Maybe that would be a fishetarian.

Anyways, back to the dead animal photos.

I recently received a photo of my aunt with her first dead deer. She was sporting bloody acrylic nails as she held up the head of a dead deer, that by the way, had its tongue hanging out.

I looked at that photo, and couldn’t help but think that the phenomenon is spreading. Not only are men somehow deeply attached to memorializing their superiority over animals, women are close behind.

A few years ago, the county had sent a couple of beaver trappers to our woods where the beaver had built a dam in a county ditch, thus impeding normal water flow.

The trappers successfully trapped and killed one beaver on our land. I happened to be home when the trappers hauled it out of the woods.

My boys looked at it in delight, and I felt sorry for it.

The first thing my husband said when he heard about the dead beaver was, “Did you get a picture of it?”

“No,” I said, thinking why would I?

“Why not?” my husband asked.

I think I may have broken his heart. He wanted all the specs of the animal. How big it was, how much did it weigh, things of that nature. It still bothers him to this day.

In this case, the animal didn’t have to personally be killed by the person requesting the photo. That puts a whole different spin on dead animal photography.

In an attempt to be supportive, I must admit I’ve been the photographer a few of times for my husband with his dead deer.

I may not understand the underlying instincts for a person to need such photography, but I recognize it’s there.

When my boys are old enough to hunt, I know I’ll be taking photos of them with their fresh kills. I’ll plaster those photos into their scrapbooks.

I can’t pinpoint the reason, but I guess I’d have to surmise that this type of photography is ingrained at some level in most of us.

It’s obvious the trend of people taking their photos with dead animals will continue and grow.

Vehicles are slowly becoming equipped with photographic devices, thanks to camera phones and digital cameras.

With current trends, it’s possible to predict that roadkill photos may soon be entering into this dead-animal photography realm.

It will be hard to determine exactly who ran over the dead animal, since roadkill is usually not hauled home as fresh trophies, thus the potential for several people to have their photo taken with the same roadkill victim is possible.

Roadkill photos may not develop into bragging rights due to the questionable nature behind the demise of the animal, and the inability to prove who exactly perpetrated the act.


While taking a family walk in the woods, we came across a critter hole. Jacob was fascinated with it and said, “I bet a snake lives in there. A beautiful one with flowers on it!”