I sat there stunned at what just happened.
I had traveled 500 miles for this particular moment, only to sit and watch this big Kansas buck walk right out of my life.
And, it wasn’t because I didn’t have the opportunity to let an arrow fly.
I actually took aim, settled my pin, and painfully watched my arrow hit right in front of his body.
I could not believe my eyes! I’ve made that exact shot in my yard 10 out of 10 times.
As I sat there 20 feet up in that oak tree, trying to figure out what happened, I heard something behind me coming down the same trail. I turned to catch a glimpse of a wide Kansas buck heading my way.
I couldn’t believe this was happening so soon after I had missed the other deer.
This time, I was even more determined to settle my pins and connect on this nice Kansas buck!
As I released the arrow, I watched intently as it found its mark and sent the buck bolting through the woods to certain death.
Finally, after two years of hunting in Kansas, I was able to enjoy the fruits of my labor. It was a very exciting moment for me, as I anxiously texted my hunting buddies… “Big Buck Down.”
What makes this hunt even more special is the fact that I got it all on video.
Videoing my hunts allow me the privilege to watch them anytime I want to.
The scenario above happened almost a year ago. I went back and watched it five minutes before I wrote this article.
When I’m having a bad season and not seeing very many deer, I can always go back and watch the moment I killed my first Kansas buck. It is a very rewarding experience.
With today’s technological advances, it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to get started filming your own hunts. Keep reading for two things that you will need to get started…
- Camera arm
- External microphone
- Fluid head
- Remote control
Obviously, you cannot film hunts without a camera, but what camera do you choose? That’s a great question that gets asked often.
First, It is very important that you choose a camera that is “High Definition” and has good low-light capabilities. The high definition will help you have clearer footage and the low light capabilities will help you get a few extra minutes of film time in the morning and the evenings. After all, you never know when you’re going to see something so rare that you’ll wish you had footage of it later on.
It is also important that you get a camera that has an external mic jack. If you are self-filming, it is important for you to choose a camera that has a good auto focus setting.
We currently use a Sony Ax-53 ($800) and a Canon 6D Mark 2 ($1500.)
Secondary cameras are also a big help to capture extra footage, such as GoPro, Spypoint or Tacticam.
It wasn’t until a recent hunt that I realized how important stabilization was for a camera.
We were on a hunt and managed to forget the arm plate, so I had to free-hand film the hunt. A doe came into our location and circled around the tree and put me in an awkward position while filming.
When we watched the footage back on the TV, I was shocked at how shaky I was. This one experience made me even more of a believer in good camera arm.
It’s important to choose a camera arm that has some length to it. This will help when the deer puts you in an awkward position of filming across your body or around the back of your tree.
Fourth Arrow has some amazing camera arms that are affordable, ($100-$300) adjustable, and easy to use. Muddy also has some great camera arms that are reasonably priced ($100-$300) and easy to use.
Every camera you buy comes with a built-in microphone, and they work decent most of the time. However, they are just not as clear or as sensitive as they need to be when capturing the sounds of the woods.
There’s just something special about being able to hear the leaves crunching under the deer’s feet when you are watching your hunt on TV or on social media. You will hear a lot less of those types of natural sounds without an external microphone.
Another problem with not having an external microphone is when you put distance between the camera man and the hunter. An external microphone will give you a lot more range of distance than your standard camera mic.
It is true, most people will watch bad footage with good audio before they will watch good footage with bad audio. Rode Mics offer a variety of microphones for most cameras.
Trust me when I say, you will want to get an external microphone!
Yeah I know, I thought the same thing when I heard about “fluid heads.”
So, what is a fluid head?
It’s an attachment that fits onto your camera arm that works by hydraulic fluid. The hydraulic fluid head allows you to make smoother movements with your camera. This creates better, higher quality footage for your viewing.
Pro Am has some very good fluid heads at reasonable prices. ($100-$300)
A remote control for your camera is very important, especially if you are self-filming. It enables you to basically do everything with one hand so you can use your other hand to grab you bow or your gun.
Most cameras have remote controls that can be purchased for them. I prefer to use the remote controls that are wired and plug directly into the camera.
Camera remotes are made to attach to your camera arm handle and can be a lifesaver when a deer walks into range. They help you minimize movement while your target animal is close.
Second Thing You Need: PASSION
Passion is nothing more than a strong desire for something. And, if you are going to film your hunts, you are going to need a strong desire to do so.
I promise you there are going to be moments when you will wake up and you are already late to your stand and taking time to get camera gear to the tree will make you even later.
Then, there will be times when you will forget pieces of equipment and the thought will run across your mind, “I don’t know why I even mess with this junk. I’m not doing this anymore.”
Possibly, even worse than that, you will have a big buck bust you because you were reaching for the camera instead of your bow. It’s during these moments that it will take passion to help you keep going.
To successfully film your hunts, the second thing you need is to have passion in the following three areas…
- Passion for hunting: Passion for hunting is probably the most obvious one. You have to love the hunt! Passion for hunting is what is going to keep you in the woods experiencing all of the things that are film-worthy. If the idea of being perched up twenty feet in a tree with a bow in your hand anticipating a big buck coming near gets you excited, then congratulations, you have a passion for the hunt!
- Passion for telling the story: I had a man tell me once, “You tell stories really good.” That’s because I have a passion about telling stories. When I tell a story, I want people to feel what I was feeling, hear what I was hearing and see what I was seeing. Being able to take your camera and video everything that you are experiencing in the woods is being able to tell your story. It gives the viewer an opportunity to see what you saw, hear what you heard and feel what you felt. You will need a passion for that in order to overcome the difficulties that come along with filming.
- Passion for new challenges: It is an understatement to say that filming your hunts is a challenge. It is actually beyond a challenge to be able to put it all together and film a successful hunt, but it sure is fun trying. One of the hard parts is learning all of the new things that make you better at filming your hunts. Anything from positioning your camera to learning how to edit your videos. Each one of these things can provide its own set of challenges, so you will need to be excited about learning new things. If you have a passion for new challenges then you are going to love filming your hunts.
There are so many more things that can be written on the subject of filming hunts.
The further you dive into the process more questions will come about camera equipment, editing, producing episodes for social media, etc. However, if there was one more piece of advice I could give you on this subject, it would be to remind you to have fun.
The camera is just a great way to share the memories of the love of the hunt, it is never meant to replace the love of the hunt. Sometimes the pressure of trying to get it all to work out on film can rob you of the fun of the sport of hunting.
Make up your mind before you begin the journey that you will always love the hunt more than you love the camera.