The Best Hunting Picture Galleries

Hunters view thousands of hunting pictures on the Web…every day

The competition for the attention of hunters is heating up online and some folks are using quality hunting picture galleries to attract attention away from the competition.

My personal favorites tend to be the galleries that are easy on the eyes, easy to navigate and the ones that have the best photos of trophy game. My favorite type of hunting is bowhunting for whitetails so I always love seeing great photos related to this hunting niche.

Here are the best hunting picture galleries…

Field & Stream

Site: Field & Stream

Gallery: Field & Stream Photos

Overview

The Field & Stream Photo Gallery is one of the most popular galleries on the Web. F&S has the best selection of lists and collections of hunting pictures on the Web. People love lists and that includes hunters. The F&S ‘Best of’ collections make for great photo viewing. To increase involvement with their target audience, the team at F&S also encourage users to submit their best photos. F&S then takes the time to highlight the user photos in ways that make the users the stars. This is a great way to highlight the success of others and give them a vested interest in the gallery. I also like the mix of professional photos as well.

For more see Critique of the Field and Stream Photo Gallery

Petersen’s Hunting

Site: Petersen’s Hunting

Gallery: Petersen’s Hunting Trophy Room

Overview

The Petersen’s Hunting gallery is entirely user-submitted. On the photo gallery home page visitors have the option to view the highlighted photos, the most recent photos, the most popular photos, and users can view photos by collection and category. Giving visitors options when it comes to viewing segments of your photo gallery is important. Some visitors will want to search for specific types of photos. To satisfy these visitors you’ll want to offer a way to search the photos. Other visitors will want to discover new photos that meet their interests. This is where the categories are helpful (ex: I like whitetails. I can click on the whitetail section).

Duck’s Unlimited

Site: Duck’s Unlimited

Gallery: Duck’s Unlimited Photo Gallery

Widget: Duck’s Unlimited Member Photo of the Day Widget

Overview

Ducks Unlimited is a gallery I’ve only recently discovered and I’m glad I did. The user photos in this gallery are spectacular. DU members are allowed to submit photos and it’s apparent that some of the members are professional photographers. And that makes for some inspirational and breath-taking photographs of wildlife (ducks and waterfowl).

Something that sets the DU gallery apart from some of the others is their embeddable widget. Check it out and if you want to see the daily photos on your Website or blog you can. Widgets are great for increasing your audience and search engines love the links they create back to the site.

Bowhunting.com

Site: Bowhunting.com

Gallery: Bowhunting.com Photos

Overview

It’s no secret that Bowhunting.com is one of my favorite hunting sites. I’ve written about them and included them in collections before (5 Hidden Treasures on the Web, The Top 50 Blog Posts of 2009, 25 Tips from 25 Hunting Industry Leaders). The team at Bowhunting.com are experts at hunting and sharing their insight and knowledge through their videos, photos, and blog posts. There is a great mix of trail cam photos, harvest trophies, and general photography for hunting product reviews and more. The photo gallery is easy to navigate and the photos are of high quality.

Bowhunting.com is one of the galleries that offers visitors the opportunity to comment on individual photos. Something Field & Stream doesn’t have yet (you can comment on the entire collection or gallery only). Some also offer visitors the chance to rate photos like Ducks Unlimited and others.

Buckmasters

Site: Buckmasters

Gallery: Buckmasters Trophy Gallery

Overview

The Buckmasters Trophy Gallery is not the best of the bunch, but they have a ton of great user photographs due to the company’s popularity. I’m not sure if it was just me, but this gallery took awhile to load and the auto-play music was a bit annoying (not the music, but the fact that it was playing automatically. See more Video on Your Website). It’s a cumbersome gallery, but it has good photos and it’s a well known brand.

Lone Wolf

Site: Lone Wolf Portable Treestands

Gallery: Lone Wolf Trophy Gallery

Overview

Lone Wolf is a bit of a sleeper in this collection. I’m a huge fan of the design of the Lone Wolf site so it’s no surprise that I’d like their photo gallery. I also think it’s important to show that hunting product manufacturers can have successful photo galleries (as well as any hunting industry company). Users submit photos and while some aren’t the best the scrolling is easy and the thumbnail setup is simple.

CamoSpace

Site: CamoSpace

Gallery: CamoSpace Gallery

Overview

CamoSpace seems to be one of the few social networking hunting sites that has actually had some success. They have partnered with some big companies and some big folks that are famous for more than just hunting (Luke Bryan – great music). It’s a formula that has worked for growing the membership on the site. The photo gallery is 100% user-submitted. That format can lead to some noise (see the trucks), but there are still a ton of photos in the gallery and many of them are great…even if they are a little difficult to find.

ESPN Outdoors Hunting

Site: ESPN Outdoors Hunting

Gallery: Hunting Photo Galleries

Overview

It isn’t the prettiest and it isn’t the easiest to use, but ESPN makes the list because the brand is huge and the hunting shows on the channel are popular. Plus I loved the shows on ESPN Outdoors on Saturday morning when I was growing up.

Big Grass Outfitters

Site: Big Grass Outfitters

Gallery: Big Grass Outfitters Trophy Gallery

Overview

It’s important for outfitters to have galleries as part of their informational sites. Potential customers want visual proof of success. And past customers can be the best referral service when they push their friends to go on the site and view their photos.

Heartland Lodge

Site: Heartland Lodge

Gallery: Heartland Lodge Photo Gallery

Overview

One of the best looking sites in the hunting industry, Heartland Lodge makes great use of a photo gallery to show their potential customers the wonders they have to offer. I love that they use existing technology in Picasa to power their photo gallery. Remember that you don’t always have to work hard to develop your own style of gallery. Use galleries that already exist.

The categories in the gallery are great, but the titles of each photo are another story…

Gander Mountain

Site: Gander Mountain

Gallery: Gander Mountain Braggin’ Board

Overview

I grew up near a Gander Mountain (no Cabela’s nearby and I didn’t use the Web at the time) and I loved checking out the physical cork braggin’ board in store. Customers were always putting their trophies on the board and I loved looking at them all. Those Polaroids were great. With this gallery, Gander Mountain has brought that experience to the Web.

Greenwood Springs Plantation

Site: Greenwood Springs Plantation

Gallery: Greenwood Springs Plantation Photos

Overview

I came across this site toward the end of this post but I just had to include it. It’s a beautiful design and I love that they use Flickr for their photo gallery. The photos could be titled, tagged and included in Creative Commons on Flickr, but it’s a great use of a great photo gallery tool.

Elements of a Quality Gallery

As I browsed the Web in search of the best hunting galleries, I noted a few elements that should be standard on all folks considering a photo gallery for their site:

1) Multi-size Options

With image size, there is a battle between load time of the page and the quality and size of the image you want to load for your viewer’s viewing pleasure. Most sites offer an initial smaller version of images for scrolling and initial viewing, but offer visitors the option to zoom in or enlarge the photo, usually in some kind of pop-up. I think it’s a good compromise. Allow visitors the pleasure of a fast loading page with smaller images and if they have the capacity, they can zoom in or enlarge the photo.

2) Thumbnail Options

Something I’m in favor of when it comes to galleries are thumbnail viewing options. Popular photo gallery sites like Flickr (Flickr Hunting) offer thumbnail viewing so users can see multiple photos at once while being able to choose the ones they want to view in more detail.

3) Easy Scrolling

An important feature of galleries is the ability to scroll from photo to photo. Once a user has chosen a particular gallery to view they want to be able to scroll from photo to photo quickly and easily.

4) Proper Tagging and Titling

Giving the proper title and the appropriate tag to each photo in your gallery is important for your visitors so they understand what they’re viewing. Tagging and titling photos and galleries properly is also important for optimizing your gallery for search engines.

5) Sharing Abilities

Giving visitors the ability to share and bookmark the photos in a gallery is extremely important for the growth of your site’s traffic and audience. Build in the word of mouth aspects of a gallery and make sure the photos are worth talking about people will spread the word.

Bonus Element

Calls to action are important for any site that is aimed at selling something to visitors. With a bit of programming and planning, sites could take advantage of internal linking to sell relevant products to customers that are viewing the photos in galleries. For example, a company could ask users to submit the equipment used to harvest a trophy. List and link the equipment on the photo to the product pages and you have potential sales. A site like Gander Mountain could do this.

Your Favorite Hunting Picture Galleries

Did I miss your favorite gallery? Please share in the comments.

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Critique of the Field and Stream Photo Gallery

Photo galleries are hugely popular with hunters

The Field & Stream Photo Gallery appears to be a huge success with their readers. Their site has been gaining traffic and readers over the past year at great rates. It’s wonderful to see a quality publication have such success with their online initiatives.

I’ve been a reader of Field & Stream for quite some time. I’ve learned much from their annual articles about whitetail deer hunting and still look forward to their expert reviews on the latest in hunting gear.

One of the reasons for the success of the Field & Stream Website I have to believe is their photo gallery. I subscribe to the Field & Stream Newsletter and it seems they are always including remarkable photographs from the outdoors. These photos are often reader-submitted, which is great.

Field & Stream is involving their readers in their publication and it bodes well for their future growth. I’m excited to see how they continue to evolve as a business with online focus while continuing to offer the best in outdoor-related content.

There are however a few critiques I have about their Website and some suggestions for ways they could expand even more…

Technical SEO

Taking a quick glance through the extensive Field & Stream Photo Gallery I can find a few things they could adjust with relatively little effort that will yield some positive results.

A quick rank check for the general term ‘hunting photos’ reveals that Field & Stream ranks about #25 on Google. This is not acceptable since F&S has one of (if not the) best hunting photo galleries on the Web. And to top off those results, F&S is ranking for with their Hunting page rather than their Hunting Photos page.

The first thing F&S can do is to utilize a strong URL for their hunting photos. Something like http://fieldandstream.com/hunting-photos would be perfect rather than the current http://www.fieldandstream.com/photos/editorial/1 . I would then redirect the current Hunting Photos page to the new one to keep any incoming links.

Click for sharper image

Next I would utilize proper title tags for the Hunting Photos page. I would use something like ‘Hunting Photos and User Submitted Hunting Photos Galleries’ or something similar that best fits F&S’s goals for their photo galleries.

F&S does utilize title tags on their hunting pageHunting: Hunting Blogs, Hunting Photos, Hunting Tips, and Hunting Articles from Field & Stream’. That is a lot of great content. To avoid cannibalism I would remove ‘Hunting Photos’ from this title tag so the hunting photos page is optimized and the search engines aren’t confused.

Click for sharper image

There are a few other things Field & Stream can do technically, but these are good changes to start.

Click for sharper image

Photo Gallery Design

It appears Field & Stream has had great success with their Slide Show Style photo gallery design.

Field & Stream organizes their photos (professional and user-submitted) into individual galleries that are setup like slide shows. For example, Field & Stream’s 50 Best Reader Bucks of 2009. Each time you click ‘next’ above the photos you’ll be taken to a new page. That’s a new page view for each photo, which means big traffic numbers for F&S.

The gallery as it’s currently setup is great for building page views and each page/photo has a new description to the right, which is great for the readers as they will want to learn about each new photo.

It would be a change for my own personal preference, but I would change the slide show format to a design that more resembles a blog post with photos and descriptions taking up fewer pages. This design would lead to potential issues with page load time and decreased page views, but the advantages would include the ability to see more than one photo at once.

It’s mostly a personal preference, but there are also technical advantages. Currently, each page in a photo gallery has the same title tag, which diminishes the value of the tag.

Field & Stream has certainly had success with their photo gallery in slide show format so there is no need to make drastic changes. The traffic and page views are there and users can certainly link to individual posts which will lead to link juice.

There are a few things that could be cleaned up though as I’ve mentioned to make the user experience more enjoyable while taking advantage of some SEO.

‘Best of’ Lists

My absolute favorite part about Field & Stream’s photo gallery is their use of ‘Best of’ lists.

Example: 25 Best Big Game Reader Photos of 2009

Web users love lists and they love looking through lists of remarkable photos. F&S takes the interaction up a notch by including reader photos in their showcases. It’s a great way to get readers more involved in the site.

F&S steps up the interaction by including leader boards for top users, ranked photos and ranked comments, and related photos.

I would continue doing posts like these while also listing the Most Viewed galleries along with Trending or Favorite galleries on the main photos page.

Build on the success of the ‘Best of’ lists and create even more lists that Web visitors love.

Photo Gallery Commenting

Getting back to the issue of the slide show style design for the photo galleries – the commenting on the slide shows is awkward.

Users can comment on the galleries as a whole, but it appears they cannot comment on individual photos. Users will highlight photos in their comments (Ex: What is up with photo #3?) because they don’t have the ability or can’t figure out how to comment on the particular photo they finding noteworthy.

It would be beneficial to user experience and SEO to allow users to comment on individual posts.

One Last Word: Duplicate Content

I just noticed that there is an Additional Info section on most galleries – right side of the page when you view galleries.

It looks like the information in this area does not change from page to page when clicking ‘next’ to view each photo.

This is a search engine no-no as search engines are always struggling with duplicate content. They want to know the page that the content is meant for and sites can be deducted ranking as a result of too much duplicate content.

Example: Moose in Canoe and Elk Hunt 2009 both have the same content in the Additional Info section.

Summary

Field & Stream has one of, if not the, best outdoor and hunting-related photo gallery on the Web today.

The increase in traffic in the past year is proof that the great folks at the outdoor publication are doing great things with their Website. They’re writing content that people love to read and they’re adding photos that people love to view and comment on.

With a few adjustments to the structure of the photo gallery I think Field & Stream could see increased results. They can improve their user experience with a few technical changes, which will lead to more incoming links while also adjusting a few things that will increase search engine traffic.

I look forward to see the Field & Stream Photo Gallery evolve and grow as outdoor enthusiasts continue interacting with the site.

PS – It looks like image title and tagging could be improved too. The exciting part is that there is huge potential for Field & Stream to improve their immense collection of photos.

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Image courtesy of vauvau