Twice the Challenge
The Challenges of filming your hunts
Many people wish to create outdoor videos or record their own hunts, but most people are unaware and unprepared for what it takes to make a quality video. By recognizing and overcoming many of the obstacles, we as a bowhunters and video makers, can produce quality, entertaining videos.
The first, and most obvious obstacle is that with a cameraman you have twice as many people in the field. This means twice as much movement, twice as much noise, twice as much scent and much more human interaction. It is essential to communicate with your cameraman. Out in the woods alone, your decisions are made inside your head. With your videographer by your side, you must discuss strategy, point to places, and make a host of other noise making, eye-catching gestures and noises that may spook game. With improved teamwork these distractions are minimized but they are never eliminated.
The next hurdle to overcome is recording the quantity, and quality, of animal footage you need of your trophy. Many times this spring my cameraman Ryer and I have spotted hogs and as we silently stalked closer we had difficulty recording a good quantity of quality footage. It seemed like as soon as we saw them and hit the big red record button, they detected us and ran the other way. Remaining out of sight of game, yet having a clear view for memorable footage can be an oxymoron. Stopping to capture good animal video is time off the clock that you may not have in your stalk. As you do get within bow range, you have to make sure the cameraman is on the animal with everything all dialed in ready for the shot. No more just barely peeking over the edge of the rocks alone taking a quick shot. No more telling your man to “stay here while I get close” or “just hang back 10 or 20 yards”. Most of the time your camera man has to be attached to your hip so they can see what you see. If your camera man hangs back to get some footage he likes and all of a sudden you have a shot he can’t see, you must wait for him to catch up if you want to get good video. With all the videos with great animal footage and clear kill shots, ones with sporadic, shaky animal footage and no kill shot just remind people they are watching someone’s home videos.
Speaking of shaky footage, the abilities of your cameraman now come into question. Rarely does handing the camera to your buddy and saying “film this” yield great video (although it can, and does happen). Familiarity with the camera and knowing how to focus, adjust iris and shutter speed, when to use gain, setting audio levels, and using the right amount of zoom are required if you wish to do a good job. Throwing a Handi-Cam into Bubba’s hands and hoping you’ll get great footage will leave you disappointed. Your cameraman must be as familiar with his gear as you are of yours.
Regarding gear, if you want to make good video, you have to have good gear. The short of this is that unless you have a good camera, tripod, audio accessories, and a host of other minor and major gadgets, your productions will probably fall short of what you had envisioned. If you don’t know what equipment to start with, go give the team at Campbell Cameras a shout. We have worked with them on a number of occasions, and they always get us going in the right direction.
Now, as you are filming, you must consider this question: Did you tell a story? Just pressing the record button at the moment of truth does not tell your audience anything except that you shot at something. Where were you, what did the country look like? Were you alone or with friends? Did you take lots of B roll to help tell your story and provide some sort of time line or background? Taking the time to gather video clips that answer these questions is crucial. Without these, your video may be a short, incomplete, story.
Now that you do have all this great footage, what do you do with it? Unless you can put it all together in an organized fashion that keeps the viewer entertained, you will quickly loose your audience. Videography and editing go hand and hand, and by learning both you will become a far better storyteller.
I have always been impressed by the TV shows in which no animals were taken, but the footage they have and the story they tell is so good, and the editing is so right on, that a half hour show was fun to watch. Thats when you know you’ve done a good job. Not all hunts yield an animal, but they all yield memories and its up to you to capture them.
The rewards of filming hunts are great. Capturing these moments and sharing them with your friends or the public can be very rewarding. For those with a creative side, videoing your hunts can be a great outlet, and the camera and editing tools available make this feat easily in reach for the person who wants to dedicate themselves to the process.
So go for it! The best way to learn is to just do it. Tell us your story; show us your triumphs and heartbreaks. All these things I’ve mentioned to do and not do I know because I have done them wrong (and still do at times), but I have tried to learn from my mistakes. So enjoy yourself, create something, show it to all of us. Just don’t forget to press the “record” button!