LAST UPDATED: May 1st, 2015
So you have decided that you want to start filming. Well, I hope you’re ready to experience one of the most rewarding, frustrating and exciting things in the deer woods. Throughout this article I am going to try and cover the basic equipment you will need and methods for filming your hunt. I’m not going to spend much time on camera options because there simply are too many to cover in one article. Now, keep in my mind while reading this that I’m a self-taught country boy, computer junkie with a mild case of ADD so I will try to keep this short (but maybe long) and down to three or four points (but maybe 15). So hang on and get ready to hopefully change your life as a deer hunter and become a self-proclaimed videographer. That is if I don’t talk you out of it by the end of this article.
Filming your own hunt, or having someone film it for you, can be both the most frustrating and rewarding thing you can attempt to do while in the deer woods.
First things first….. you can’t film hunts without a camera. Some of you may already have a camera but for the purpose of keeping this short and on track we are going to assume that you’re buying a camera. There are a ton of options out there and my best advice would be to call the folks at Campbell Cameras and talk to a professional that can get you on the right track for the amount of money that you want to invest in equipment. Most of today’s cameras will film great HD quality footage, don’t require any tapes, and will produce great memories once you learn how to operate it.
Now let’s get to the good stuff….equipment and techniques. The one thing that I want to point out before we really dive into this is that the quality of your equipment will greatly increase the quality of your video. BUY A GOOD TREE ARM, FLUID HEAD AND A ZOOM CONTROLLER. I can’t stress this enough. Those items will make your video smooth and look more like a pro than anything else you can buy. There are three camera arms that I would recommend for use with a small camera. These include the Lone Wolf Strong Arm, Muddy Outfitter, and the 3rd Arm Adventure series. These are all great arms plus when you add a Manfrotto 701 fluid head and a zoom controller you are ready to film like a pro.
There are many different ways to film a hunt and P.O.V. (point of view) cameras like the EPIC cam (pictured here) are gaining popularity due to their small size, unique angles and the high quality video they capture.
Now that you have your equipment, let’s focus on getting it safely to the tree. I would recommend getting a good quality back pack that can not only carry the weight nicely but will also allow you to strap stuff to the outside. I use the Horn Hunter main beam pack and have been using it for five years now. A good pack will save your back plus safely carry and store all of your equipment.
Make sure you have a safe, easy means of transporting all of your camera gear to the woods before the hunt actual takes. This will make “filming” easier and more enjoyable.
Once you have made it to the tree the next thing to consider is how you are going to get set up. If you’re self-filming there are a lot of different techniques. While standing up I mount the camera at waist level two my right side. This will allow you to operate the camera and be able to see the screen with very little movement. The second way I have tried is to sit down mount the camera two your left and then film with the arm across your lap. The down side to this is it limits your movement and you have to shoot over the arm but it does provide an easy and close view of your camera’s view finder.
While the end result is capturing the kill shot on film, it is important to capture all of the moments leading up to the release of the arrow. This will strengthen the overall story of your hunt.
If you have chosen to film as a team there is one primary setup I like to use. The cameraman needs to place his stand one foot above the seat of the hunter’s stand; preferably on the side of the tree that will allow you to film over his shooting shoulder. We like to run our stacking sticks up the tree and between both stands. This will allow you a safe entry into either stand. The one thing that you can’t overlook is having the stands in a position that allows you to communicate with each other. Talking to each other during the day or the moment of truth is the key to filming as a team. You have to be on the same page if you want to create quality video. This is where filming with your buddy (second wife) can get frustrating. It might take a while to get things figured out but in the end you will be able to create a high quality video.
Choose your filming/hunting partner wisely because the two of you will have to work in perfect harmony in order to produce a finished product you can be proud of
Here’s a short list of things you want to remember while filming your own hunts.
1. Stay smooth and fluid with your movement of the camera
2. If you’re filming be sure to watch the deer “through the camera” and not over the camera. This is a common mistake for rookie cameramen, and a hard one to overcome.
3. The rule of thirds. If you take the size of the deer’s body you should have that same amount of space above and below him in your screen. This will make sure you are not zoomed in too far, but close enough that the footage is acceptable.
When filming a walking deer try to keep the back edge of the viewfinder close to the deer’s rear end in order to avoid his head going off the screen.
Learn From These Mistakes
1. You can never trim enough shooting, and now filming, lanes. Remember, the angle at which you are seeing the deer is not the same angle at which the camera is filming the deer.
2. You can never film enough. Film everything. It will help you show your story to the audience better and will catch the funny and unplanned moments that occur over the course of a hunt.
3. Don’t get frustrated. At some point filming will cost you a deer; maybe the buck of your dreams. That’s just part of it. It happens to everybody. In order to get it all on video everything has to work out perfectly…..sometimes it doesn’t. If you’re not willing to accept that fact, then you might want to rethink your decision to film your own hunts. It might be hard, but the reward you get when it does all come together is pretty amazing.
I could go on and on about the do’s and don’ts of filming your own hunts. Just remember, try not to get frustrated and have fun with it. Filming is very easy; its learning “how to” film that is the hard part. However, the more your do it, the better you will be at it. Good luck this season.