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How To Get Started Self Filming Your Bow Hunts

 

You hear it all the time. Guys claim that self filming hunts is extremely difficult and in certain situations they’re 100% correct. However, there are many mistakes hunters make that make self filming more difficult than it needs to be. Avoiding these mistakes can save you a lot of frustration and make self filming much easier.

Why Self Film?

Unless you’re a major hunting personality you probably can’t afford a cameraman for every night of the week from Mid September through November. Your buddy may initially seem willing to film on occasion but you’ll quickly learn that schedules don’t often align and by our very nature, a hunter wants to hunt, not sacrifice his evening to film you. For many of us, self filming is simply the only real way to ensure you capture your hunts on film.

Setup is Everything.

There will be guys that complain that their camera arm get in the way of shots. When set up properly, this rarely happens. Let’s try a little exercise. Pretend you’re in a tree. You’re standing with your bow in hand and release clipped on. It’s go time. If you’re right handed, your bow is in your left hand and vice versa. Come to imaginary full draw.  As a right handed shooter you can cover a wide variety of angles to your left but shooting across your body to the right quickly gets very awkward. I call this hard to shoot area a self filmer’s “blind spot”. You almost have to turn and face the tree completely in order to pull this off, making it the perfect spot to place a camera arm.

Simply put,
A right handed shooter should have the camera at hip height on his/her right.
A left handed shooter should have the camera at hip height on his/her left

Why hip height? Hip height is low enough that you can still shoot over it if need be and any frantic full draw adjustments can be made by “Hip checking” the camera arm into position.

Know your Camera.

The main resource that is limited because of self filming it’s time. You are trying to hunt and get the camera on the animal. That being the case you need to know the ins and outs of your camera. If running in manual mode you need to be extremely familiar with zooming, adjusting exposure and white balance, and focusing on the fly. Getting to know your camera is best done during the preseason. Spend some September afternoons filming velvet bucks in low light. Get to know your camera better than you know your bow! If looking for some help in camera knowledge, the guys at Film the Hunt are a great resource.




Have the Right Gear.

Self filmers carry more gear. It’s unavoidable. You’re going to need a camera arm for smooth, solid  footage, especially at the shot. You’re going to want more batteries, POV cameras, audio gear, and more.  At the end of the day you’re trying to do the job of two, but you’re one guy. You have to seriously analyze what you’re willing to bring out with you. Packability becomes paramount, especially if you’re a mobile hunter. If you hunt the same property often and have established stands in place putting bases in every tree before season opens is a great idea. It eliminates noise and allows for quicker, consistant setups. Check out some great camera arm options here.

Have a Backup Plan.

Things will go wrong. It’s inevitable. One October afternoon I had a full battery and was bowhunting from the ground when a target buck stepped out 120 yards away. He was feeding with some does with no intention of moving. I opted to belly crawl through a  small ditch to get to him before last light. I snuck into forty yards, set up the tripod, turned on the camera only to discover that it had somehow turned on during my crawl and exhausted my only battery. I had to pass that buck, but believe me, I would have paid a large sum of money to have an extra battery with me that afternoon. Don’t be like me. Bring extra quick release plates, batteries, and SD cards.

Zoom Out.

When bowhunting the deer are generally within thirty yards, meaning your target can pretty easily move out of the frame between letting go of the camera and releasing an arrow. Don’t be afraid to “lead” that deer a little bit or zoom out altogether so that you have a little cushion where that deer can move without walking out of the frame.
Have some other tips? Be sure to add some to the comments!

Best of luck to all you solo hunters in the field! Be sure to keep it fun and tag Fourth Arrow in your videos and photos!

The Best Camera for Filming Hunts on a Budget (Flowchart)

 

One of the most common questions we get is “What camera should I purchase for filming hunts?”  Obviously, the answer to this question varies depending on needs, budget, and type of camera desired.

For example, you might want something simple where your camera automatically sets the focus and exposure so all you have to do is press record, aim, and shoot. Your buddy, on the other hand, wants something he can run in manual mode and fine tune in order to capture the best cinematic footage possible. His favorite camera would drive you absolutely crazy and your camera would have him overnighting a package from Bedfords or Campbell Cameras.

In fact, finding the perfect camera for filming hunts might be comparable to finding the perfect broadhead. Every hunter has an opinion but there is no right answer. Rather than picking one camera and claiming it is the best camera for self filming or filming hunts, I created a flowchart. This gets you in the right ballpark, but does not mean the cameras listed are your only options. Note: If there is a camera you highly recommend feel free to add it in the comments!

So what are your options? The first step is to select from three types of cameras.

Camcorders   

    •    Easy to use
    •    Simple design
    •    Built in lens
    •    Automatic focus, aperture, and white balance standard
    •    Aren’t ideal for  “cinematic” shots
    •    Video Only

 

DSLR & Mirrorless

    •    More complex- Most don’t have autofocus (though autofocus is available in certain lenses)
    •    Multiple lenses needed for shooting different distances
    •    Generally better in low light than consumer camcorders at same price point
    •    Perfect for cinematic shooting
    •    Great video and image capabilities

 

Bridge cameras (* on flowchart)

    •    A bridge between camcorders and DSLR/Mirrorless cameras
    •    Built in lens with impressive zoom
    •    Easy to use or complex, depending on preference and situation.
    •    hotos are far better than camcorders but not as crisp as a DSLR/Mirrorless

 

After picking the style of camera you are looking for you’re going to want to identify your budget and see what cameras on the flowchart match up with your needs.

With this knowledge, I hope you find yourself more prepared to purchase the camera that best suits your needs and budget. Keep in mind that even the best camera is only as good as it’s owner. To improve on your camera skills, in the field production, and post production head on over to Filmthehunt.com and tell Tom and Nick that Fourth Arrow sent you!

The Fourth Arrow team wishes you the best of luck in your search! If you have any questions at all don’t hesitate to leave us a message via Facebook or here on the website! Lastly, please keep Fourth Arrow in mind for all of your camera arm and accessory needs!

 
Please note: prices on flowchart were generally the cheapest prices I could find via a simple google search. If considering a Canon I strongly recommend looking into their refurbished options.

Four Ways you can Improve your Turkey Hunting Footage

 

By Tracy Breen

 Turkey season is upon us!  One thing more turkey hunters are doing is filming their own turkey hunts.  It seems there are two types of filmed turkey hunts.  Amazing films that capture everything turkey hunting is about and films that show a gobble or two, some blurry footage of a turkey, and a loud boom.  Dr. Grant Woods of GrowingDeer TV films countless turkey hunts every year.  Woods loves turkey hunting and he enjoys capturing the hunt on film.  Below are a few of his tips to ensure you end up with a film all your friends will want to watch.   

KEEPING CAMERA GEAR CONCEALED

Most turkey hunters run and gun at some point during their season. Unlike deer hunting where most hunters are stationary and can take their time setting up their camera, turkey hunting requires hunters to be on the move which often makes filming more difficult.  “Often turkey hunters are forced to set up in a hurry so little details like making sure the camera is completely concealed gets missed.  A turkey will spook the moment they see a big black camera or a bright shiny camera lens.  We try to hide the cameraman near a big tree or bush.  Then we cover the camera with a cloth so the birds can’t see the camera or the lens.  Carrying all this around when we are hunting can be difficult, but it is worth the effort because we spook fewer birds and get better footage,” Woods explained.   

A DECOY IS A MUST HAVE TOOL

Turkeys hunters often debate whether they should use decoys when turkey hunting because decoys can sometimes spook birds.  According to Woods, decoys are often required when filming a hunt.  “A decoy takes the birds’ attention off where the calling is coming from and then they focus on the decoy.  We put the decoy about twenty yards from our set up and even closer if we are bowhunting.  With a decoy close, we can get good footage of a tom when he comes into the decoy,” Woods added.     

HUNTING FROM A BLIND

When Woods and his team notice a tom and his ladies are regularly hanging out in a food plot or field, they often set up a Redneck Blind near the field edge. “The wonderful thing about hunting out of a blind is it conceals your movement and the turkeys don’t seem to get spooked by a blind.  They don’t pay attention to them.  In addition, all the filming from a blind is much easier than running and gunning.  Every turkey hunter should have a blind, especially if a person is going to bow hunt.  A blind conceals the camera man and the hunter when they draw their bow,” Woods noted.

 THE REX ARM

One item that has changed the way Woods and his team films turkey hunts is the Rex Arm from Fourth Arrow Camera Arms. This camera arm can be used with almost any tripod and it allows the hunter to move the arm with the camera attached without moving the tripod when filming. “Turkeys often come strutting in and moving around.  In order to keep them in the viewfinder, we have to move the tripod.  The Rex arm is an efficient system, allowing the hunter to utilize 360 degree movement within a 10-inch radius of the tripod.  Now we can easily move the camera and keep up with the gobbler without having to jerk the tripod around.  It minimizes movement and increases the quality of our footage,” Woods added.
 

Filming a turkey hunt is fun and exciting. Hopefully the tips above will help you produce a better film this spring that you will be able to enjoy for years to come.

Self filming hunts: Getting beyond the Basics

 

 

If you have spent much time filming hunts and editing footage, you have discovered that not all hunting footage is created equal. Some hunters do a great job filming, editing and creating a production that grabs the eye of hunters everywhere. Some hunters fall short when it comes to creating a great film. Jake Cornish from West Michigan is a professional cameraman and producer. He says there are a few things all hunters can do to increase the quality of their footage and their finished film.




THE RIGHT CAMERA



One camera that Cornish often recommends is a Panasonic FZ 1000. “This bridge camera has a great built in 16X zoom so it zooms in well and it zooms out pretty wide. It boasts a versatile lens that a hunter will be able to use to capture great footage of deer when they are close and far away. It shoots 4K resolution and has a jack for a microphone so it is a great all around camera.” If a simpler camcorder is desired the Canon Vixia lineup is an industry favorite. Last I checked Campbell Cameras had some good deals on the Vixia lineup.




PROPER SECONDARY CAMERA ANGLE



When self filming your camera arm should be situated about waist high. This offers a great range of mobility and easy access to the camera. Be sure to note that any interviews should be recorded in a seated position so the sky is not the background. Often times the sky is bright behind the hunter so they end up getting washed out instead of achieving perfect exposure. Point of View cameras are particularly notorious for overexposing the shot if the subject is skylined, Using a Fourth Arrow Outreach Arm is a great option because a hunter can use the arm to get their point of view camera up in the air and out of the tree where the camera can be pointed down instead of having the camera pointed up to the sky,” Cornish added.




KEEP THE CAMERA ROLLING



Another mistake Cornish sees hunters make is not having the camera on unless there are deer around. “Many hunters keep their camera off until a deer shows up. As a result, they end up with a few minutes of deer footage and a kill shot. Many hunters fail to realize that to produce a great film, the hunt should tell a story. Shoot as much footage as possible. If a squirrel climbs a tree nearby, film it. If a hawk lands in a tree, film it. Film everything that is going on so after the hunt there will be plenty of footage to choose from so a good film can be produced. When there isn’t much footage to begin with, the storyline ends up being pretty weak,” Cornish noted.

DON’T FORGET THE MICROPHONE



Many hunters aren’t afraid to spend a little money on a camera, but that’s it. One purchase that Cornish believes is a must is an external microphone. “There are several different mic options on the market from inexpensive to really expensive. Even if a person doesn’t want to spend much, a cheap mic is better than nothing. A good story can’t be told without good audio. Many people forget that good audio is necessary. The built in camera mic is not enough- especially when wind is a factor” Check out reviews on sites like Amazon before you purchase a mic.

DON’T SHAKE



Last but not least, shaky footage is not good. A general rule of thumb is you want to avoid touching the camera as much as possible. “When self filming or running camera for someone else a hunter should always have a good camera arm.” Cornish suggests a Fourth Arrow Stiff Arm. “When a hunter is in a blind, they should use a tripod and a Rex Arm. Even when walking and filming, it is best to use a glide cam that can stabilize the camera. Hand holding a camera results in shaky footage and shaky footage is hard to watch.”

Cornish is quick to point out that creating a quality film doesn’t require a lot of money, but it does require being patient, taking your time, being knowledgeable, and having the right gear. By investing a little bit of money in the right gear and educating yourself, you can produce films that everyone will enjoy watching.

5 Reasons not to Purchase a Point of View Camera to Film your Hunt

By Tracy Breen


When it comes to filming a hunt, there are many opinions. Fill a room full of cameramen and they will all share an opinion on which editing software is best, which camera arm is best, and how to position a treestand perfectly for filming a hunt. The opinions will vary and some will disagree with each other. One thing all camera guys will likely agree on is that point of view cameras aren’t a good investment for those who want to capture great footage.


Grant Woods from GrowingDeer TV spends countless hours in a tree every fall with a camera man over his shoulder. Over the years, they have come to one conclusion: point of view cameras are good for one thing: getting footage of the hunter taking the shot. That’s about it. “Point of view camera companies do a great job of marketing the cameras so many people buy them but besides being lightweight and easy to use, they aren’t a good camera to record a hunt with,” Woods said.


Below are a few reasons Woods believes hunters wanting to film a hunt should not purchase a point of view camera.


POINT OF VIEW CAMERAS CAN’T CAPTURE THE DETAIL


“These cameras are not detail oriented. You can see very little of what is going on at twenty or thirty yards with one of these cameras, which is where most shots are taken with a bow. You can hardly see the deer in the footage,” Woods said. We film hunts so we can watch the footage and see the action after the hunt. With a point of view camera, you can’t really watch and enjoy the footage.


SEEING SHOT PLACEMENT IS DIFFICULT


Filming hunts has changed the way we recover deer. Make no mistake: filming hunts has increased the number of deer that are recovered. “With a real camera, I can watch the footage after a hunt and see where an arrow hit exactly. Based on the shot placement, I can decide if I want to try to recover the animal right away or give it time. I can see if I hit the deer in the lungs, a little back, or a little high. Filming has changed the game for us. It is difficult to see exactly where you hit a deer when using a point of view camera,” Woods explained. “One of the greatest benefits of filming a hunt is being able to watch the kill shot over and over after the fact. That is lost when filming with a point of view camera.”


THE AUDIO ISN’T VERY GOOD


“Point of view cameras do not capture very good audio, therefore if you are talking with your buddy in the tree or want to hear what is going on around you after the fact, the camera won’t do it. If person is on a dirt bike or using a loud machine, it will capture that kind of noise but subtle noises like birds chirping, people talking and other noises we hear in the woods won’t be captured well,” Woods explained.


POINT OF VIEW CAMERAS WERE NOT DESIGNED FOR FILMING HUNTS


“Point of view cameras were not designed and manufactured to capture the type of video footage a hunter wants or needs to produce a quality production. They are perfect for action sports but not hunting. When someone wants to film a hunt, they should invest in a camera that can do a good job of filming a hunt,” Woods said.


POINT OF VIEW CAMERAS ARE PRICEY


“Point of view cameras are pretty expensive for what you get. They really aren’t a good value. For about the same amount of money, a person can buy a real camera that they can use to produce a quality video they would want their friends and family to watch,” Woods advised.


Do you own a point of view camera and regret the purchase? Are you considering purchasing a camera to hunt with this fall? Save your money and invest in a camera that can actually capture high quality footage you would enjoy watching with a bowl of popcorn and a cold drink.

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