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DOCUMENTING GAME POPULATIONS IS ONE OF THE MOST CHALLENGING TASKS FACED BY HUNTERS. A YOUNG HUNTER FROM TYROL, AUSTRIA, TELLS US HOW HE IS HELPED BY HIS BINOCULARS AND SMARTPHONE.

«TWO STAGS FIGHT IT OUT IN DANIEL PARGER’S TERRITORY.»

Digiscoping is an elegant way of capturing nature. It makes it easy to quickly switch between observation and photography. Yet relatively few people know how useful it is for documenting game populations. For the last three years, hunter and hotelier Daniel Parger has been using a combination of binoculars, adapter, and smartphone to keep an eye on the age ratios of the game in his territory.

In Kolsassberg, between Innsbruck and the Zillertal, Daniel Parger has been looking after a territory of almost 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres) since 2012. Like many others, this young hunter and hotelier also likes to take his smartphone and EL Range 10x42 binoculars along with him. The logical next step was to combine them with an adapter. This digiscoping equipment makes it much easier for Parger to tackle the difficult and time-consuming task of recording the game population.

“For me, it is important to get to know the game from when they are young, to watch them grow up, in order to create the right conditions for a balanced age structure,” explains Parger. This is the only way to avoid shooting the wrong animals and creating a gender imbalance.

Daniel Parger mainly documents roe and red deer, and occasionally chamois. “I always have my equipment with me and have reached a point where, when I am putting out food, I spend half a day recording game numbers,” says Parger. For roe deer alone, last winter he counted 180 heads.

LIGHT AND SHADE
But with a little practice, it is possible to go beyond “functional” shots and take some sophisticated photographs. There are differences between digiscoping equipment and traditional cameras. Parger’s digiscoping combination comprising an EL Range 10x42, iPhone adapter, and iPhone 6 is much faster and more flexible than a DSLR camera. “You generally don’t have much time to photograph wild animals,” he explains. “This equipment means you can react quickly and it can even be possible to take difficult shots of rare, old bucks.”

However, taking good photos with binoculars, adapter, and smartphone relies on two things: good light conditions and not being too far from the target. “If you want a photo to hang on your wall, you need it to be high resolution. In this case it’s best to forget the zoom on your smartphone and take the shot from no more than 20 to 30 meters (65 to 100 feet) away.”
Light conditions are particularly important when taking shots of smaller animals such as foxes, badgers, and black grouse. “These creatures are mainly nocturnal, so they are difficult to photograph,” says Parger. This is where his digiscoping equipment has its limitations. For more possibilities – such as taking shots at twilight or at greater distances – the smartphone can be combined with a spotting scope.

MORE THAN A THOUSAND WORDS
Once Parger returns home, he selects the best photos on his computer and archives them to record the game population. He also likes taking videos with his digiscoping equipment. He particularly appreciates the authenticity of photos and videos. “Digiscoping allows me to show experiences in a different way,” he says. “It helps non-hunters put themselves in the situation, and a photo or video makes it easier to explain what I do and experience out there.”

«IT HELPS NON-HUNTERS PUT THEMSELVES IN THE SITUATION, AND A PHOTO OR VIDEO MAKES IT EASIER TO EXPLAIN WHAT I DO AND EXPERIENCE OUT THERE.»
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