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…
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.
Whitetail hotspots… everybody seems to have them, yet many have a hard time understanding them. I know I’ve made my share of mistakes hunting the coveted areas of different properties over my many seasons of chasing deer.
For years, my dad, brother and I hunted a 30-acre property with three stands; and one “hot spot.” Most hunting weekends meant stiff competition for that magical stand – and if you happened to have the place to yourself, there was nothing to keep you out of it.
Years of seeing the best bucks from this stand ruled our brains. However, after a few seasons, the cold realization set in that our encounters with the best bucks occurred almost exclusively during the peak rut. Nothing real profound there.
The fact was, we hadn’t really taken many big mature bucks from the stand since the first three or four years. Only after the biggest buck ever taken from the place was shot from the other stand did the wheels start to turn.
The hunting gusto of my younger years represented a time when, less educated, I thought I was bullet-proof in the woods. I thought I had it all figured out. This was an era when I wanted to shoot the biggest buck without really having to work at it.
Sure, it took getting up early in the morning and braving the cold weather, but that was about it. I quickly learned that much of my whitetail hunting ways needed rethinking – or thinking at all. Further, I started to realize that whitetail hunting is much more of a chess match than a free-for-all.
No more scrambling for the “good stand,” regardless of hunting conditions. A hunt-smarter mantra overtook my hunt-often mindset.
Are You Getting A Deer Education or Just Educating Deer?
Perhaps the most essential shift in thinking was realizing that I was habitually educating way too many deer to my presence.
My aha moments finding rubs and trails were really nothing more than sloppy field trips. What was worse was my half hazard route selection when traversing to and from this honey-hole stand. The same could be said about the other properties we hunted.
Stand locations were based on the best buck sign and past experiences with little regard for prevailing winds and entry and exit routes. If I was sitting over a rub line – or for that matter a urine-soaked cotton ball, I was golden.
When the buck sightings didn’t materialize (or came to a halt), I assumed the deer had simply changed their patterns. And I continued to taint the woods like an open tank of gasoline.
Coming to My Senses
Like the deer I hunted, I started to exercise more caution and logic. The fact is that, though all deer have great senses, they continually get better with age – especially bucks.
I had heard these things from other hunters and read about them in magazines. In fact, my father had often preached these basic facts. However, with a few bucks under my belt, I had just chosen to ignore them.
After this reckoning, I finally made the decision to maximize my time in the woods.
So, how do you keep from compromising your best hunting setups during the season?
First, regardless of property size, prepare multiple setups for different wind directions. This will usually provide a good hunting alternative for a given day’s conditions. If possible, vow to never hunt a stand during marginal wind situations.
Next, consider ahead of time how you will enter and exit the stand. Hopefully, some stands are set up within a heavy travel corridor between food sources and/or bedding areas. However, with this positive placement comes a higher chance of disturbing the peace.
If your entry or exit will likely upset the area, be resolute about finding an alternative spot nearby. If not, hunt another area or make the dreaded, yet sometimes necessary decision to stay in.
Longer sessions in your blind or treestand can pay real dividends. It’s common knowledge that it’s a great strategy during the rut, as it increases your chances of catching a buck that is either cruising or on the heals of a hot doe.
The fact is, if you have the time, it’s a great practice from a pressure standpoint as well.
The best scent management doesn’t come from a bottle. If you have an all-day sit, you eliminate additional entry and exits to and from your stand. So, consider exercising addition by subtraction by settling in for longer hunts, hence applying less pressure to the areas around your most precious setups.
Few stands offer even near perfect advantage for the hunter. The save-a-stand-for-best-conditions approach works. Particularly if you are hunting an exceptionally old and impressive buck, use this philosophy and completely ignore your best setups until favorable dates.
There is only one first time to hunt a stand during the season. Saving it for a time when bucks are seeking does is great, but there are more things to mull over. When you do, you greatly improve your chances at even seeing your hit-list buck.
Over the years I had heard about the “FOBs” from FOB Archery on various archery forums. I learned that FOB stands for “Fletchings Only Better.”
But what was the story behind this new product, and would it really work better than fletchings or vanes?
The History of FOB Archery
The FOB was designed by an aerospace engineer named Paul Morris. He designed it based on the concept of aerodynamics. He believed there was a away to improve upon the old fletching that Native Americans and people all over the world had been using for years and also in competitive archery. At the time, the FOBs were known as Starrflight FOB.
But then, in July of 2018, three business partners purchased the company from Morris and rebranded it to FOB Archery.
FOBs At First Glance
I finally got around to testing the FOBs. I have to be honest, when I first started reading about them and saw them, I was like, “Really?” My B.S. meter was going off a little bit.
But, I decided to give them a try.
The FOB is made of nylon. It looks simple, and in some ways, it’s exactly that. But in other ways, it’s very meticulously designed.
It simply slides onto the end of the nock. Then you insert your nock into the arrow shaft and you have essentially fletched your arrow. It’s that simple… and it’s fast.
No glue. No time. Just boom! And it’s done.
Keep reading for an in-depth look at the FOBs to find out if they’re right for you…
The circular ring around the FOB is thicker in the front than it is in the back. It’s an air foil design that aides in the stabilization and flight of the arrow.
The three little “vanes” are at a 4-degree offset. In effect, very And then these vanes if you will, the three little vanes, they are at a 4-degree offset.
The FOBs claim to be more accurate in a cross-wind than fletchings. The theory is that the cross-wind will blow a fletched arrow more off-course due to the larger surface area on the back of the arrow.
The combined with the air foil design, the offset vanes allow for greater spin. With the thicker front portion of the ring, and the thinner part in the back of the ring provides 360-degrees of stabilization.
Offset fletched vanes will rotate, but technically not the 360-degrees of stabilization that the ring of the FOB provides.
I should note that the blazer vanes I typically use are different than what most people use. I use a 4-degree helical setting. So, they are put on with a 4-degree helical using an Arizona EZ Fletch.
That gives you the fastest rotation that you can get with blazers.
Sometimes people use the blazer vanes with an offset at 3 or 3-1/2 degrees. Some will just buy them from the factory in a straight position. But, when you put them on with a helical, they spin a lot better and you get better groups.
I tested the FOBS compared to the 4-degree helical blazers to see how well the fly and group. I tested indoors and outdoors with field points and also outdoors at long range using broadheads.
FOB Archery vs Vanes Indoors at 40 Yards
Outdoors at 40 Yards
With Fixed Blade Broadheads at 80 Yards
Ballistic Gel Testing
Next, I did some testing into ballistic gel, shooting a regular vaned arrow with the Blazers and an arrow with a FOB on it.
I wanted to see two things. First, I wanted to see how the penetration was affected by the fletching and by the FOB. Secondly, I wanted to see how effectively the FOB bounces off the gel when it is contacted.
I first shot the FOB and then the Blazers. On impact, the FOB bounced right back to my feet (about 4-5 yards).
FOB Penetration vs Blazer Vanes
The vaned arrow went through the ballistic gel and simply landed behind the gel block. It didn’t stick at all into the layer of MDF.
However, the bare shaft that had the FOB on it continued to fly through the gel and not only stuck into that layer of MDF, but actually penetrated all the way through it and popped out the other side and made a big dent in the next layer of MDF.
Notice that the arrow tip with the FOB on it penetrated better than the one with the Blazer vanes, because the vanes had to pull through the gel whereas the bare shaft just slipped right through.
After putting the FOBs through every test that I can think of, I was pleasantly surprised. Actually, I was borderline shocked by how well they performed. They passed every test I have.
Pros and Cons of FOBs
Here is a summary of what I think are 7 pros and 7 cons to be aware of when considering using the “FOBs” from FOB Archery.
Speed of fletching: You can fletch a dozen arrows in less than a minute instead of about an hour. And, you can do it in the field just as quickly.
Accuracy: FOBs are every bit is accurate as a 4-degree helically attached Blazer vane. That’s pretty darn accurate. So, I know that my vanes at a 4-degree helical vanes are more accurate than straight vanes and even more accurate than offset vanes at long distances. The FOBS group just as well.
Drift resistance: The FOBs are able to handle wind drift amazingly well. They are much less affected in a heavy crosswind than Blazer vanes or other vanes. That’s an important asset when you are bowhunting out West or shooting at long range.
Penetration: The superior penetration of arrows with FOBs surprised me. Because the arrow didn’t have the drag of the fletching, it just zipped through the ballistic gel and penetrated through a half inch of MDF. The arrow with the Blazer vanes did not stick into the MDF at all. That’s quite a bit difference in penetration. The lack of drag makes the difference. That was impressive.
Durability: I am very impressed with the durability of the FOBs. I shot them a couple hundred times. I’ve hit the FOBs with the tips of other arrows a number of times (they call this a “FOBinhood” when you stick one arrow inside the FOB of another arrow on the target). The FOB got a little dinged up at times but I have yet to break one. And, even when they are dinged up, they still work fine. TIP: If you are in a dry climate, you can soak the FOB in water, inside like a Ziploc bag or container for a day, they get even a little more pliable. This will help them become even more durable than they already are.
Quick Change Colors: Another little thing I like about them is that I can change colors without having to strip everything down off of a previous arrow and put on another one. I can just pop off the FOB and add a different colored one.
Ability to use arrows with bare shafts: Another strength of the FOBs is that you can use bare shafts. One of my best archery buddies, Shane Chuning, taught me that to always have a bare shaft in my target quiver so that I can test the tuning of my bow. This helps me test my own personal form. And, nothing reveals imperfections in form and tuning like a bare shaft. So, I always try to designate one arrow like that. With the FOBs essentially all your arrows can be bare shafts. You just pull that off and then you got bare shafts. You put the nock back in and you can tune a whole round of bare shafts and then put the FOBs on and shoot a whole round of fletched ones. So, that’s definitely a plus as well.
So, now that I’ve covered the 7 advantages of FOBs, I’ll cover what could be considered disadvantages:
Must use a drop-away rest: To use FOBs, you must use a drop-away rest. They will not work with a prong rest, because the FOB won’t clear it. You also cannot use something like a whisker biscuit, as the FOB would come off as the arrow passes through it.
Cheek Interference: If your anchor point is way back, or at the back of your head, the FOB could catch your ear. That wouldn’t feel nice. Or, if you mash your arrow into your face, or have a large beard, you may have a problem using the FOBs. For me, the anchor point is not an issue with FOBs. With the way I anchor, I didn’t notice it, even with a heavy mask on that I use during cold weather. So, this may be an issue for you, depending on where you anchor.
“FOB Pinch”: Another con would be a “nock pinch” of sorts. Some individuals with really long draw length that shoot bows with a short axle-to-axle length could experience this. Because the FOB is so far back on the shaft, the string could pinch the top and bottom of the FOB at full draw. If that’s the case with you, the FOBs wouldn’t be right for you. FOB Archery is supposed to be coming up with a solution for this in the near future.
In-Flight Sound: Some individuals that have used the FOB say the sound is an issue. I compared them in flight to the sound of my 4-degree helical blazers, which are louder than straight or offset Blazers. To me, the FOBs sound about the same as the Blazers. I couldn’t tell a difference. I even tried a decibel meter, putting it a halfway down range to try to see if they pick up a difference. The decibel meter wasn’t sensitive enough to pick up any difference between the two. Honestly, I don’t worry about arrow flight noise. Instead, I worry about bow noise and human noise at the shot. My reasoning is that bugs are zipping around deer all the time. Birds are flying by. Leaves are falling. I don’t believe the arrow flight noise is an issue worth being concerned with and I’ve never had a problem with it during a hunt.
Finding Arrows: Another concern is from those who use lighted nocks. The thought here is that during a pass through shot, the FOB pops off, taking the lighted nock with it. So, you would find your nock easily enough, but not necessarily your arrow. If the arrow stays in the animal, well, you’re going to see it running off with a lighted nock as normal. One way to address this concern is to use a reflective wrap. And I find those just as effective as a lighted nock at finding your arrow because you shine a light on it and it lights up like a Christmas tree. I like to use a lighted nock for videoing, but a reflective wrap really helps you in finding that arrow. So, while some consider this a con, I do not.
Weight: Adding the FOB to an arrow makes it 8-10 grains heavier than using Blazer vanes. That’s very minimal in my mind. It’s kind of the difference between using a lighted nock or not, which doesn’t really affect my shooting accuracy unless I’m out well past 60 yards. In that case, I simply sight in my bow for lighted nocks, and the FOBs hit right where my lighted nocks hit. So, again, this “con” is a non-issue for me.
Cost: One other concern that people have expressed at times is the cost. I wondered about that too. So, where do FOBs fit in cost-wise? They are about $2.25 each. You get a 12-pack for $29. So, they are more expensive than just getting vanes and attaching them yourself. But, they are less expensive than paying a bow shop to attach your vanes. They are also less expensive than buying the shrink wrap vanes and putting them on.
If you do decide to purchase FOBs from FOBarchery.com, use code LUSK10 for 10% off!
In conclusion, I really like the FOBs. They passed every test I could think of. I’m ready to take them into the field! Let me know your thoughts or any questions you have on this alternative fletching in the comments below!