One thing’s for sure, when it comes to outdoor writing and photography, people in the Palmetto State cannot get enough of sporting dogs doing their thing.
Dog images are a popular staple of the South Carolina Wildlife magazine/Hampton Wildlife Fund photo contest and display during the Palmetto Sportsmen’s classic in Columbia, and articles featuring sporting dogs are always a looked-forward-to feature in any SCW issue. Whether it’s hard-core waterfowlers, upland pointer devotees, or just regular folks, everybody loves a good dog photo. And puppies?…..don’t even get me started.
Capturing a perfectly-timed action shot of a majestic retriever bursting out of the water amid a shower of sunlit water droplets, duck in mouth and ready to make the perfect drop, or patiently waiting by its master’s side in a dove field, can be difficult under actual field conditions. Among other things, having a photographer, handler and all the necessary equipment for making a great photo trailing along behind doesn’t usually make for a very productive hunt. And yet good images of sporting dogs and their humans is a near-constant need for a variety of SCDNR publications (be sure and check out the cover of the 2020-21 SCDNR Official Rules and Regulations booklet, for instance).
So with that in mind, last winter SCW magazine Editor/photographer Joey Frazier and agency photographer (among other duties) Taylor Main put out a call for volunteers for SCDNR staff members with working dogs to be a part of a photo shoot designed to help build up our supply of “stock” hunting dog images for potential use in ads, articles, or other agency publications.
Staff members from several different SCDNR Divisions answered the call, and it was a great — and VERY chilly — day of shooting that produced some fantastic images. It also produced a LOT of outtakes – “behind-the-scenes” shots that highlight just how much fun you can have on a cold winter day with a passel of pups, their owners, and some really talented photographers. SCW magazine will be featuring a photo essay of the very BEST shots from this outing in their November-December 2020 issue, but in the meantime, here’s a few that probably won’t be in the final cut.
Pet-Friendly Vacation Rentals
Meet the Boss
The end goal: A perfectly-frozen-in-time snapshot of a beautiful dog – in this case SCDNR Marine Division biologist Bryan Frazier’s, Chesapeake Bay retriever, “Boss,” coming out of the water.
But first, there’s the practice run.
To get all the angles worked out, and with SCDNR photographer Taylor Main handling the camera duties, Boss shows he is more than up to the task, though he doesn’t seem that happy about it.
But first, how about a posed shot holding the bird.
Billy: “Now, Boss, this is a duck. We need you to hold it in your mouth and look straight at the camera.” Boss: “Are you sure? This thing smells funny.”
Boss: “I know what you want me to do, but I don’t have to…..I’m not a trained animal, you know….. oh, wait……”
Boss: “Oh, there’s treats involved, you say? Well OK then, in that case, I’m ready for my closeup Ms. Main.”
“Ptooey…..OK, where’s that Milk Bone now?”
Thatch and Manse
Next up for portraits were Thatch and Manse, Deutsch-Drahthaars owned by SCDNR Office of Media & Outreach Assistant Director Amanda Stroud and her husband Justin. Manse is the little guy. Amanda’s long experience with keeping the OMO staff on task paid off, with the bribes to ensure good on-camera behavior coming early and often.
Manse: “HEY, what’s this bug doing!!!”
Ken Cope (SCDNR LE Officer): “OK, Coal (German short-haired pointer), I’m gonna need you to focus here.”
Coal: “I don’t think that’s a real duck, Dad.”
Meanwhile the youngun’s are taking a break by the barn.
Well, some of them at least.
Manse: “I got you now, ducky. Quick, somebody take my picture!”
Luna: “Wow! that spotted kid is really an excitable boy. Should we tell him it’s not real?”
Willie: “I have to pee.”
Then it’s on to some duck hunting shots.
Billy: “OK, Maggie, where’s the ducks?”
Maggie: “I don’t see any ducks over there, just that lady with the treats.”
Willie: “OK, but I still really have to pee.”
Willie: “Why does that man keep waving his hat at us?”
Willie: “Really, we just stand on this platform all morning? Did I mention, I really have to pee.”
Maggie: “Shut up, kid, you’re ruining my glamour shot.”
Boss: “See, this is how it’s done. My human always gets his duck.”
Boss: “Why is that hooman still waving his hat, and how come there’s no duck – did you miss again?”
Boss: “Nice honking, but I still don’t see any ducks, Dad.”
“Don’t cry, we’ll get you in the water next time, Luna.”
Last, let’s do some dove field shots, with Luna and Luna’s other human, Dee Dee
This is how we model appropriate dove field behavior.
And this is how we don’t.
And last but certainly not least , Major Billy Downer (and Maggie), for organizing the duck hunting shots, keeping us all on track and safe, being an awesome model and a great sport, and for wielding a mean donut.
Text and photos by David Lucas