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How You Can Video Your Hunts

Aside from the basics, such as getting completely familiar with your camera equipment and keeping the lens clean, here are a few important things I’ve learned.

By: Cindy Lavender

With the increase of outdoor hunting TV shows as well as hunting videos on and numerous Websites during recent years, many people have purchased professional quality cameras and begun capturing their hunts on film. My first camera was a Canon GL-2, which, for television broadcasting, has since become obsolete; just about everything today is in High Definition.

My initial archery hunt on the GL-2 somehow got lost and I’ve never been able to find that footage. (Probably I taped over it, which is upsetting, because watching your hunt for the first time and being able to replay it is such an amazing experience.) I can’t tell you how important it is to keep track of everything you film or video; once lost, it may be forever gone.

Whether filming a hunt for a segment on the Nature Productions family of TV shows or my own personal use, I want to make memories and share my hunts for years to come.

Aside from the basics, such as getting completely familiar with your camera equipment and keeping the lens clean, here are a few important things I’ve learned the hard way.

Roll with it
When filming your hunt do not erase or rewind if you mess up. By messing up, I mean when you’re talking and  stumble over words, or say something stupid, or make a mistake; just keep rolling where you left off without backing up the tape or deleting the file. Leave everything as is, and edit all the unwanted footage out in your Video Editing program later.

The filming part doesn’t have to be perfect or planned out. Sometimes candid shots are the best, and bloopers are fun to watch anyway. Whether you intend to video a professional quality hunt or do it just for fun, keep the camera rolling.

Start a collection
If recording to tape, don’t be cheap and reuse them. Just keep everything you shoot and start a tape collection. Label each tape after you’re done filming and editing and file it by date or subject. Unless you are very organized (unlike me) and can take the time to burn everything onto a DVD or some other form of storage, reused tapes will become a confused mess of which ones are OK to tape over and which aren’t. I stopped reusing tapes to save money after I couldn’t keep track anymore.

Make it interesting
Film as if you were telling a story to your buddy. It makes it more interesting to the viewer to see you get up and grab breakfast, drive to the hunt, play a practical joke, and film a shot of the hunter pulling the bow back (even before you actually see the game). Many TV shows do a lot of the preparation and even post filming, so that they can piece everything together for the final cut.

Try different vantage points, like filming low to the ground as the hunter walks to their tree stand. A great way to learn about interesting shots is to study your favorite TV shows, YouTube videos or movies for different filming angles and techniques.

If you do any prep or post filming, make sure the lighting and conditions are similar, so it doesn’t look like two different places or different weather or times of day. The industry calls this “B-roll.”

Get it all
Film as much as possible – remember, no matter what, keep that camera rolling. You’ll be happy to have that much more to edit with and piece your story together. Having too little footage will be disappointing when you need to add something to the final product.

Using the best equipment is a real plus like this Vanguard Alta+ 264AO tripod with video head – a lightweight, yet sturdy tripod, perfect for doing video work in the field. It also comes with a handy carrying bag.

If you’re really serious about putting together good hunting stories, you should consider capturing your surroundings; such as close up of birds, trees, butterflies, and deer from another day when you’re not hunting, whatever you think might make good in-between shots for your hunt. You might call this your “stock footage.” When you watch shows, you will see a lot of these types of transition shots, and they help keep things moving.

Edit away
To make a good hunting video, you must have access to a video editing program. There are some out there that are very inexpensive and easy to learn. Most of these programs come with a tutorial or instruction manual. You don’t have to try to win an Oscar; you just need something that helps you tell your story.

If you want to share your video, the video editing program allows you to piece the different clips together to make an interesting story.

Tapes vs. memory cards
Typically, semi-professional video cameras use either 8 mm video tapes or a memory card, such as an SD card; I highly recommend the memory card for videoing hunts.

To determine how big of an SD card you need, a 32GB SD card can film approximately 4 hours of footage at 1080p format. The 8mm tape cartridge is engaged when you turn the camera on, and this makes noise. When the woods are silent it’s fairly loud. A memory card has no moving parts to engage, and is very silent when turning on or off.

Imagine turning the camcorder to standby moments before that monster buck begins to move broadside offering a shot and he hears the creak of the tape engaging and runs off. He may not hear your camera, but I wouldn’t want to risk that chance.

Choosing a camera
For sharing hunts with family and friends, or home viewing, I don’t think you need to spend a fortune on a video camera. I do recommend a High Definition camcorder and there are quite a few (brand new) for a few hundred dollars that will make great home videos.

HD has better picture quality than an older video cameras. You’ll notice this more now that we all are used to watching movies and TV in HD and BluRay.

Camera support
A good tripod is a must for steady shots in the field as well as for filming your “commentary,” in other words, the part of the video where you are summarizing the events of the hunt. For solid, ultra-smooth tripods, I recommend looking at the Vanguard line, especially their Alta+ and Tracker models with video pan heads.

Tell your story by videoing yourself talk about the hunt. When editing the video, you can use the audio sound file on top of the video to tell the story as the viewers watch the action and then cut in and out of your filmed commentary.

The filmed commentary may also be used to describe some of the events that were not captured on film and elaborate more on the details or background of your hunting story.

Good help is hard to find
The most difficult part of filming your hunts is finding a cameraman who will endure the long, cold and uneventful hours with you while you’re hunting and trying to make a good hunting video. You are fortunate if you have someone who doesn’t mind making you the center of attention. Most hunters would rather be hunting themselves than sitting out in the cold to film someone else.

It’s your show
Ultimately, the way you want to capture your hunts is entirely up to you. You may not want to edit the footage at all and are just as happy watching anything you captured on video!

Either way, filming hunts has evolved into a challenging and fun hobby all on its own. I know you will find it exciting to relive your hunt, and I highly recommend filming your hunt no matter what type of camera you have.

Today, there several Smartphones that can do a satisfactory job of videoing your hunts.

The first time I watched one of my hunts on video was truly amazing. And after your shot you can replay and review your shot placement. And it’s handy when something unexpected happens while you’re out in the woods. It’s well worth the money and all the effort to capture and enjoy it for years to come!

For the highest quality products to help you do your best filming rely on: Vanguard World


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