Austin-based food photographer Jody Horton knows a thing or two about hunting. He grew up hunting dove and quail, starting at the young age of six, and moved on to ducks as a teenager. His friend, Jesse Griffiths is also an experienced hunter and devote “localvore“. When Jesse isn’t running Dai Due Austin—a supper club and butcher shop that uses seasonal, regional ingredients—he’s out directing hunting, butchering and prepping classes called Deer School and Hog School. Both passionate about food, hunting and good photography, Jody and Jesse recently got together and created an in-depth manual for a “new generation of practical hunter and fishermen.” The result was Afield: A Chef’s Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish—a detailed visual masterpiece filled with field stories, step-by-step cleaning and breakdown shots, and delicious recipes.
Jody and Jesse actually thought up the idea for Afield around three years ago. It wasn’t until a short time later when Jesse was featured in Primal Cuts, a cookbook published by Welcome Books, that Afield gained any substantial momentum. Welcome Books jumped on the project and fortunately let Jody and Jesse take full rein of the project, allowing them to take control of everything from the structure to the art direction, and of course, the photographs.
Jody took over 300 pictures specifically for Afield while out hunting with Jesse. They knew what they wanted to capture, and had specific shots in mind, both hunt, and photo-wise. This lead to an extraordinarily useful field guide but added a few bumps to the process. Jody explains,
Hunting is tricky because of course, sometimes you go and just sit in a blind and wait and nothing happens, that’s when you feel like you’ve accomplished nothing. But then there were days that were impossibly lucky—like when Jesse shot two turkeys and a deer in the space of maybe 10 minutes. Overall we were unusually lucky. Like during the rabbit hunt, which was a difficult shoot, and freezing cold. There were just no bunnies. We looked everywhere. Then we finally flushed the only one infield and Jesse took an impossible guess of a shot and got him. It was a miracle I think.
The majority of the images were shot over the course of a year, but it took almost two years to finish the entire shooting process. All the photos were shot in Texas and Jody says he would “hate to add up the days or hours” they traveled, hunted, and shot, but for “work” he says, “it’s about as good as it gets.” Jody and Jesse are both extremely pleased with the results and Afield is now available to purchase. It’s already garnering rave reviews with Hunting Life calling it “beautiful” and a “great place to turn to… understand food at this most basic level.” And it even made The Austin Chronicle‘s reviewer “teary-eyed.”