As we were putting together our new digital hunting book a few months ago, we realized it was missing something – the photos and stories of our fans and customers in the field. So we put the call out on Instagram asking for your wingshooting photos that captured your hunting experience. The result was hundreds of photos entered, with a dozen chosen to be in the book. We love how the spread turned out and wanted to do more to tell the stories of the people behind the photos. So watch this space for profiles of these intrepid photographers, as well as examples of their work
Our second photographer is Anthony Precopio, from Virginia. His winning photo captured the contented pose of his dear, departed Maddie, just after she had completed her final hunt.
What’s the story behind your photo that’s in the Orvis Digital Hunt Book?
For me, it was a journey of opposite directions. Before my hands clasped the old abrasive laces to secure my boots and before the cold metal keys rang out to sound the alarm that we were about to leave, I knew that this would be Maddie’s last time bird hunting.
On the other hand, my first-born daughter, Emma, had her blaze orange hat perched snugly on top of her golden hair, pulled down to the top of her sky blue eyes. She would be making her very first bird hunting trip.
I truly couldn’t tell you how many quail we harvested that cold afternoon. However, once home, Maddie would always bound from the back of the SUV. This time she seemingly sat reflecting on her journey. At that very moment she seemed quite content just lounging in the back. I took the photo to capture it in my memory. To me that reflection captured my heart. It was our last hunt.
Now an empty shell and some feathers are all I that I have physically left from that day. Her Orvis collar, collecting dust, circles the urn in which she now rests.
When did you start bird hunting?
I became interested in bird hunting toward the end of my college years. My cousin Phil and I would go to some places around Monmouth County, New Jersey. We hunted mainly pheasant and pen-raised quail.
What’s your favorite species to chase and why?
I love quail hunting. There’s just something amazing about watching a bird dog zig-zag across a field until it locks up like a statue. With muscles trembling, eyes struck straight ahead, tail pointed towards the sky —there’s nothing better. Then suddenly, exploding without warning, and when just about underfoot, the quail flee for the horizon.
What’s your most memorable bird hunting moment?
Walking that last amber field with Emma, she and I watched Maddie lock up on point that one last time. The wind blew, and the quail exploded out of the tall slender grass, hustling for the sky. In my mind it was like poetry. This conclusive moment was one, like many others, that I was able to take in and fully appreciate.
What’s your most forgettable moment?
Embarrassingly enough this would hands down be the time I so masterfully locked my gun and keys in my vehicle. Yes, sir! Right then and there I felt like Wile E.Coyote “Super Genius.” Although I couldn’t find an anvil to smash my car window, I did locate the second largest dense object around, and that would have been a large rock.
What do you love most about bird hunting?
The whimper, whine, and pacing of the dog the night before. You know that they know we’re going. That next morning loading up. A chill in the air, the smoldering wood from a neighbor’s fireplace. The low, consistent hum of the road until. . .you hit the gravel road. At that moment, your heart starts pounding. The dog is no longer sleeping, and the rhythmic beat of its tail starts going. The anticipation of a blank canvas is getting ready to be painted with today’s brush.
Where’s your favorite place hunt?
FFF Hunting Preserve in Keysville, Virginia.