By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer
For Bruce resident Steve Gulledge, sharing the rewards of the outdoor challenge and the beauty of its wonders has been a lifelong passion and, now, has become a part-time business pursuit as well.
A forester by profession and an outdoorsman by preference, Gulledge became interested in photography as a high school student, shooting photos for the Bruce high school yearbook. The enjoyment of photography and his lifelong interest in the outdoors eventually joined forces and he’s been hunting with a camera more than a firearm ever since.
Launching a freelance sideline in 1998, the self-taught photographer has been published in a myriad of magazines and other venues, including Deer & Deer Hunting Magazine, wildlife calendars and artistic prints.
“For me, wildlife photography was just an extension of the hunting season and another reason to spend time outdoors,” Gulledge said. “I love photography and love the outdoors and this let me put the two together.”
Sportsmen often use an illustration they call “Four Stages of a Hunter” to describe the maturing of their enjoyment and participation outdoors.
In the first stage, a brand-new hunter just wants to harvest one of whatever he or she is after. In the second stage, the goal becomes getting the limit in a single hunt. The third stage finds them after the biggest or otherwise hardest to acquire trophy.
The fourth stage is one of full maturity – the stage at which, while the enjoyment of the harvest and the table fare it provides still remain, an even greater enjoyment is found in the sharing of the wonders of the outdoors, and in the introduction of new hunters and fishermen to the game.
For a woods veteran like Gulledge, this fourth stage is a natural, and one he’s proud to pass along.
“The pleasure of being outdoors, the excitement of getting a good photograph that other people like to look at, and the thrill of having a photo editors will buy all play a big part of the attraction and the rewards. It’s really nice to see one of my photos in print with my name by it.”
His favorite subjects are wild turkeys and whitetail deer, but he says, “any critter I can photograph is interesting.”
For outdoor enthusiasts who’d like to put photography into the mix for their next season, Gulledge offers these tips:
n Get the best equipment you can afford. Good photography that gives a satisfactory result can be pulled off with marginal equipment in many cases, but outdoor photography of live, wild subjects isn’t likely to be one of them. An investment in good camera gear will pay off and, if it’s maintained properly, much of the gear retains its value pretty well, so it can be sold to help fund either upgrades or redirected interests down the line. Online sources like www.keh.com can prove invaluable in this regard.
n Get in position where the game wants to be. “It seems oversimplified to say, but you need to be where they’re going and are going to stay for a while,” Gulledge says. “This could be a feeding area or a strutting zone, or anywhere the animals feel comfortable.” That, he says, is where the hunting aspect of the effort comes most into play. A good hunter can learn to take pictures much easier than a good photographer can learn to hunt.
n If you’re using a blind and it’s feasible, set up the blind so that you’re facing north. That way, Gulledge says, the arc of the sun will keep it over your back all day, never in your face.