Every year I get the question sent to me on Facebook and texting: “I want to film my own hunts, what camera should I buy?” I figured I would write an article on it for all those guys who have that same questions. This is my 5th year running a camera during my hunts. I also filmed professionally for 2 years for a TV show on Sportsman Channel.
First off, let me say that killing a deer is already hard enough. Taking a camera along with you will only add to the complications. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it does not. When I filmed for a hunting TV show, filming was easy and every animal was filmed taking dirt nap because that was my only job. Now that I no longer work for that show, I have taken on filming my own hunts by myself. It’s been frustrating but very rewarding at times. I am 2 for 4 when pulling the trigger on a deer and still getting it on camera.
The cool thing about filming your own hunts is being able to go into the woods and not have to kill everything that walks by you. I have filmed some pretty cool things. I have filmed a small 6 point rubbing up a tree 30 yards away. I have also filmed a 4-point dogging does for an hour and twin fawns chasing each other around. I like carrying a camera into the woods because even though I may not kill everything that comes into range, I still get to capture that subject on film and learn from it for future trips.
I am going to give advice on what to do when you are filming your own hunt on your own. If your filming with a buddy, a few things change but I won’t get into that.
You have to remember that you are still a predator going after your prey. You camera equipment needs to be light and small. Big bulky cameras and camera arms can get frustrating and tires you out if your walking in a distance. You also make a lot of noise setting them up. I did it for a weekend while filming for the show and was ready to quit after. Then I bought lighter equipment for my personal use. The camera I use is a hand-held camera with HD that I paid about 700 dollars for. This camera has a lot of bells and whistles. It is small and has great quality for a film. You don’t need a camera this expensive unless you are trying to put your film on TV.
Camera brands that I like are Sony and Cannon. I would not work with anything else personally. They have a lot of different cameras depending on your price range. I would stick with a smaller video camera. Make sure the camera works with your computer and you are able to get the footage from your camera. Probably the most important feature for filming hunts is the quality of film during those last minutes of shooting light. Having “gain” is a plus. Gain allows you to film later into the darkness but gets really spotty. You will lose a lot of quality film with turning up the gain. However, if you are doing this for fun and it’s during legal shooting hours, shoot the animal.
I would also stay away from GO Pro cameras as your main camera. Don’t get me wrong; I love my Go Pros but they just don’t do that great of a job filming hunts in my opinion. I still use them from time to time but I always have my cannon with me as much as possible. I have seen deer shot at 20 yards and I have taken a shot at a deer at 40 yards and I did not like the footage. The deer looked very small in both segments. Go Pros would make great secondary cameras if you are looking for that shot. Personally, I am not making money doing this so I don’t look for that second shot. If someone wants to start paying me, I’ll run my Go Pros all the time. 🙂
I use a gorilla camera arm that I paid $50 bucks for. It’s bulky and kind of loud when setting up. If you are looking to film your own hunts, I would go with the new muddy microlight camera arm. I also have one of those and love it for hunts that take me way back in the woods. They are light and can fit in a small backpack. I would also buy a bow hanger to put the microlight camera arm on.
Any cheap tripod will work if your hunting from a ground blind or a tower blind. Just remember to shut the screen off when it gets dark or your blind will be lit up and the deer will spook if they notice.
Like I mentioned earlier, filming a subject(whitetail deer) that never does what you want is tough. They change their directions many times and could cause you a missed opportunity. If you have been hunting a lot you may be able to guess where that deer is going early and get him on camera. If you don’t know that area very well, who knows what could happen. Personally, I would rather make a great shot on the animal rather than rush to get the animal on camera and then making a crappy shot and possibly wounding it. If it works out that I do get it on camera, that is awesome. If not, the venison will still be in the fridge and the rack on my wall. Plus, you can always film the retrieval of the deer and make a great story out of it.
Food Plots are really easy to film in because you can easily predict where the deer is going. They are also feeding which allows you to set up on them. If you are in the woods, picking out where there going in tough. If the deer you want to harvest is following another deer, they are usually easy to get on camera because the lead deer gives away where the deer is going that you want to harvest.
Last year after missing a kill on camera, I also bought a wide angle lens for my camera. I think I spent like 50 bucks on it. It’s the not the best quality wise but it should add a little bit more room to get my kills on camera.
I hope this helps some of the hunters who have always had filmed their hunts on their mind. If you do happen to get a kill on camera, send us the link for us to share. If you like the article, please share and rate it. Good Luck and shoot straight!
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