John Toolan, Picture Editor at Field and Stream, asked me to illustrate a very personal story by Executive Editor Mike Toth.
We went to Mike's childhood home in New Jersey to photograph the mount of the great deer that his father had shot five decades earlier. In the interim years, Mike and his father had fallen out and only reconciled shortly before the father's death, just a few weeks before the shoot.
'Through it all, the mount was there. It was the first thing he carried inside the new house when my parents and I moved out of our apartment. Except for when the walls were being painted, it never moved from its spot on the right side of the fireplace. When I was a little kid I’d watch him carefully clean and polish the antlers before the holidays. He’d even use my mother’s hairspray on the hide. He had other mounts, but none with more mojo. I’d heard him tell the story about that buck so many times, often at my urging, that it became a memory of my own, something I play over in my head while sitting in the deer woods, waiting for shooting light.'
Above is the deer, carefully resting on the floor, ready for his closeup.
Below an outtake, a time-lapse video featuring dancing antlers