Filming Deer Hunts | Guidelines and Expert Tips For Filming
As much as technology has greatly improved the way we send and receive information, it has also totally revolutionized the way we capture information as well. From taking screenshots and photographs to capturing video, technology has made it possible for the everyday person to scratch their creative itch when it comes to photography and videography, and the outdoor world is certainly no exception. It wasn’t long ago when filming your own deer hunt meant packing close to a hundred pounds of camera gear, and tapes into the woods. This gear was often so bulky and cumbersome that it was difficult to not only put in a tree but being able to move the camera fluidly to capture the right angle was often very challenging. Today, it has all changed! Camera equipment has become smaller, lighter and easier to use. Hard VHS tapes have given way to SIM Cards and digital video and videography equipment has become more diversified, with many products specifically made for the deer hunter in mind.
Clearly, when it comes to filming your own hunts, especially when it comes to deer hunting there is a wide range of camera gear that has helped a lot of hunters fulfill their dream of filming their own hunt. Of all the gear and equipment that has helped make these dreams a reality, there is one critical piece of hardware that made all the difference…the camera arm. Though often underappreciated today’s camera arms have helped to bridge the gap when it comes to capturing that perfect shot and filming a deer hunt of a lifetime. This article will be your guideline for filming deer hunts, as well as suggest a few critical pieces that you will need.
Guideline To Filming Deer Hunts
If you are considering filming your own hunts this fall, or just simply wish to brush up on your skills then you have come to the right place. Regardless of what level you are at, amateur or professional, chances are it all started with watching a hunting show. Watching the success, and flawless camera work of other hunters on TV or on the web is most likely what inspired you to consider bringing camera equipment up in the tree. If you are inspired and drawn to start filming deer hunts then you need to start doing your research. Look into what camera to buy to film hunting, what camera arms to buy, what camera equipment you need, and what considerations you should take note of. That information will go a long way in helping you get started. Here are two blogs that could help you in that regard.
While it might seem like a no-brainer to go ahead and start buying gear and filming hunts, if you want great quality or “pro-staff”/ TV show quality then more research should be done. Of course, quality comes with experience so taking a few pointer from this guideline doesn’t hurt.
For this guideline, no one is better to take tips from than Bill Winke and the guys/hunters/cameramen at Midwest Whitetail. Over the years every pro staff member, cameraman, hunter, or even intern for that matter has managed to lay down some amazing footage. The hardest part is it is always consistently getting better with each year. Over the years they have managed to produce a couple of very informative videos on the subject that they have mastered. We have dug these videos up to aid anyone wishing to learn how to start filming deer hunts, or simply brush up on their filming skills. These videos include a step by step guideline for filming hunts, basic filming skills to master, and last but not least some creative filming techniques.
Step By Step Guideline For Filming Hunts
Filming A Proper Hunt
(Video) – A great camera operator can tell the story through their footage. This video covers the basics of filming an entire hunt. MIDWEST WHITETAIL VIDEO
Step 1: Getting Ready – The first step in filming a deer hunt is to film B-Roll (cutaway/filler video) of preparation and the begging of the hunt. This is the first step in the process of capturing every aspect of your hunt, to help completely tell the story.
Step 2: Opening Interview – Interview the hunter or yourself when self-filming a deer hunt. This can take place during or between the first step in getting ready. The opening interview does not have to take place in the tree stand or ground blind. This interview tells the basic situation and setup of the hunt.
Step 3: Walking In/Setup – This is often skipped in deer hunting footage as it can be a pain to get. This footage entails capturing the access method and route you take, climbing up in the tree, setting up your hunting equipment, etc.
Step 4: The 2nd Interview from Stand – This is the more common interview, the hunter in the stand describing the setup, the hunt, which bucks they are going after, the wind, weather conditions, trail camera intel, etc.
Step 5: Cutaways From Stand – This step suggests another round of B-Roll footage to put perspective on hours passing by. These shots include creative shots of the landscape, pans, leaves, your hunting equipment, the hunter, etc.
Step 6: Filming Deer – After step 5 you can turn the camera off and rest for a bit. Step 6 when filming deer hunts is to film the hunt itself, this means filming deer as they come in and around the stand, the shot, and the deer potentially crashing.
Step 7: Film Reaction Interview – Directly after the shot ( do not turn the camera off) zoom out and film the hunter’s or your reaction. It is critical to capture the emotions of the hunter, good or bad depending on the shot made and the situation. Again directly after the shot, zoom out, refocus on the hunter and capture their post shot interview.
Step 8: Staged Cutaways After Shot – This step arrives directly after step 7, while the light and settings are exactly during the time the shot was made. This B-Roll footage includes calling the deer in, grabbing the bow or gun, hooking up your release, drawing the bow back, it is filler for the intense moments the deer works into shooting range.
Step 9: Climbing Down – Again another storytelling essential. This step includes packing up gear, climbing down, and starting the blood trail.
Step 10: Tracking Footage – Filming the track job is another critical point to connect the shot and the recovery. This also helps in the case of you not finding the deer, to tell the story of how the blood trailing went.
Step 11: Reaction To Finding Deer – Film the hunter’s or your reaction as the deer/buck is recovered. Usually, an emotion capturing critical point for the video.
Step 12: Interview With Deer – After recovery, stage an interview segment. This includes a scenic area close to where the deer was shot. This is an interview for the hunter to explain the hunt, the history with the deer, and other critical information before the video ends.
Step 13: Hero Shots And Extra Cuts – This includes footage of the deer, the antlers, the shot placement, the hunter looking at the antlers, friends or family looking at the deer, and other B-Roll footage to fill the post interview with and give the audience a better look at the harvest.
Creative Filming Techniques
Creative Filming Techniques
(Video) – Being able to tell a story through footage is the ultimate goal of a camera man. In this video, we go through some of the more advanced ways to film a hunt.
It’s important to not remain to “scripted”. Staying to a basic format and the same shots over and over again could spell a disaster for your hunting footage and video. With as much footage as Midwest Whitetail lays down, it’s important that they “keep it fresh” with creative filming techniques. This is considered getting into the advanced stages of filming deer hunts, but important to keep in the back of your mind as you progress your own deer hunt filming skills.
The Base of Filming Deer Hunts: Camera Arms
Despite common misconceptions, there is more to a camera arm that meets the eye. The biggest mistake you can make is not going with the right “base of your hunt”. Today’s camera arms offer a wide range of features that can help the hunter or cameraman flow through the step by step guide above, as well as get creative with their filming.
Much like any product, a great place to begin your filming career is at the ground level, utilizing a Basic camera arm. A basic camera arm is just that, it’s basic, and will provide someone a solid foundation by which to mount a camera and film a hunt. While you certainly won’t be doing anything super fancy it will certainly get the job done. Muddy’s basic camera arm, for example, is a great option for the beginner who is headed out deer hunting, and would like to try their hand at filming their own hunt. Like most camera arms, it can attach directly to the tree and is perfect for self-filming situations. Weighing in at four pounds, it certainly will not add a lot of bulk to your pack which again makes it perfect for those solo-deer hunting missions. The head of this camera arm can swing 360 degrees, which is great for capturing an “in the stand” interview right after the shot. The arm itself will extend and swing 180 degrees which is perfect for those self-filming scenarios.
When it comes to deer hunting, even the slightest movement can often be enough to blow a hunt. It is almost ridiculous just how easy it can be for a deer to bust a hunter in the tree stand with plenty of cover with just the slightest movement of a hand. When it comes to filming hunts, sometimes less can really be more. In addition, some hunters just don’t like to get too fancy. If you fall into this category then it might be worthwhile to simply invest in a camera holder rather than a camera arm. Muddy’s Micro-Lite camera holder is perfect for the hunter that doesn’t want to get busted while panning the camera. This camera holder can fit onto a wide range of products like the Muddy Multi-Hanger or Tree Step and can provide you a great vantage point to take some wide angle video. If you happen to be a self-filming coinsure with multiple cameras who is looking to capture multiple angles, this camera holder can also be a great addition to your arsenal and give you that perfect over the should vantage point.
When it comes to filming your own hunt, angles can be the biggest challenge you can face. Wild animals don’t know how to respond to a camera. They are unable to follow direction, and often go off script and unfortunately sometimes a poor camera angle can make the difference between pulling the trigger and not. Having a camera arm that not only gives the videographer the proper stability to take a great video but can also adjust as needed to make sure that they keep the target in the frame is very important. In order to check all these boxes, Muddy Outdoors developed the Hunter camera arm. This camera arm is designed for those hunters who have dedicated to the art of filming hunts. The Hunter camera arm offers extremely quiet joints & pivots with 47 inches of reach in over 180 degrees of swing. Most importantly, this camera arm has five points of adjustment which should allow you capture that Pop & Young regardless of where he goes. Most importantly, this camera arm will not weigh you down. Tipping the scales at seven pounds, the compact design can fit into most packs and can attach to the tree in seconds.
There are a lot of camera arm options out there, so it is always important to do your homework before you make your purchase. Doing the legwork ahead of time can really help you narrow down your search later.
Picking the Right Camera Arm
You have decided that you want to try your hand at filming your own hunt. You have done a little research and have brushed up on what types of camera arms are on the market today, and now it is time to decide which one to get. When it comes to spending your hard earned cash, especially when investing in outdoor hardware like a camera arm, it is always a good idea to spend some time thinking it through. We are all guilty of making an impulse buy every now and then but when you are talking about filming equipment, you can save yourself a lot of headaches by doing your homework and getting it right the first time. Here are a few things to consider before purchasing your camera arm.
The first thing that you need to identify is your filming style. Are planning to truly “self-film” DIY style or is there the potential of having someone film you? Your camera arm choice can go a couple of different ways depending on how you answer this question. If you are looking for just a simple, DIY self-film opportunity then a product like the Basic Camera Arm or the Micro-Lite might just be the ticket. If you and your hunting buddy are wanting to hang a couple Vantage Point’s and try your hand at some high production work then the Hunter camera arm or the Outfitter camera arm might be what you need.
Once you have identified your filming style, it is still always a smart idea to think about the terrain that you plan to film in. It goes without saying that if you are going to be utilizing a camera arm that it is likely you will either be filming in or next to a tree, however, it is really important to consider how difficult it might be to get camera equipment in and out of your hunting area. Although these camera arms are some of the most durable and lightest around, when it comes to traversing difficult terrain even your Magnum safety harness can start to feel heavy after a while. Whether or not you plan to leave your camera arm permanently attached to the tree for the season can sometimes help make up the difference for a long hike, however, if you are planning to run and gun this season you should certainly consider this factor before making your camera arm selection.
Setting Your Camera Arm
Anyone how has filmed a hunt, especially a DIY self-filmed hunt will tell you there is no such thing as the perfect set up. Trees are often uneven and leaning one way or another. Sometimes the best killing tree doesn’t make the best filming tree. Luckily, today’s camera arms come with several different features such as a sight level and ratchet strap fastening system that can help the hunter adjust on the fly and still come away with a solid video that they can be proud of.
When it comes to setting up your camera arm, regardless if you are being filmed or self-filming there are really two very basic rules that you need to always follow. Rule number one; always do your best to mount the camera in the same tree the stand you will be hunting from. While this may leave you thinking “well…duh”, you would be surprised at just how many hunters will try to secure the arm to a nearby tree, thinking that the angle may be a little better. While the camera may seem close at the time, when a deer is into bow range even the slightest movement can be critical. Having the camera either over your shoulder or right in front of you is hands down the best case scenario.
Rule number two, although the video is important, make sure the camera does not hinder you taking the shot. Today’s hunting camera arms have an excellent range of motion, which allows them to be very versatile in terms of where you place them in the tree. This versatility ensures that you have the highest probability of staying with an animal while it’s moving, and thereby ensuring that you have a better chance capturing the harvest on film. It is very important when setting your camera arm that you think through your angles and ensure that your camera is in the right place to capture an animal passing through your shooting lanes. Additionally, you want to make sure that the camera and camera are not in the way, making it difficult to make the shot. So, don’t just assume because you are strapped in the tree and the camera batteries are full that you are ready to go, take some time and work through your camera angels as it can save you a lot of heartaches later on.
Filming your own hunts is an excellent challenge to pursue this fall, and can be done by anyone. The quality, however, will greatly depend on upon your camera gear and the way you handle a camera. Of course, great camera handling comes with experience, reading up on this guideline for filming deer hunts certainly does not hurt. Taking the time to research tips and techniques, and what to invest in as far as the right equipment such as a camera arm, can really make the difference between an amateur video and a professional looking hunts. If you are looking to up the odds and try something new this fall then consider hitting the woods with a hunting camera arm and camera in tow. It can make for some amazing memories!