If you will be filming your own hunts this year, here are three reasons it could make you a better hunter.
Before I became a writer I was filming my own hunts. Before I started filming my own hunts, I dreamt of one day hunting in front of a camera. Before I dreamt of all of that, I just hunted. Just hunting was great, but filming your own hunts has many benefits and can actually make you a better hunter.
I first started filming my own "hunting show" at 12 years old. I used a video camera that recorded to a small VHS tape and there was no such thing as HD. My buddies and I would go outback of my parents house with our pellet guns and film our squirrel hunts.
There, we would try to portray our favorite TV show hosts. I always wanted to be like Michael Waddell, who at the time, was mostly just a cameraman for Realtree Outdoors.
My buddies would all pretend to be David Blanton, Bill Jordan and sometimes even Jackie Bushman. We grew up in the Adirondacks Mountains in New York, but suddenly when recording, had southern accents.
It wasn't until 2012 when we started Top Pin Outdoors that we became serious about filming our hunts. I had moved away from New York and was living and hunting in Maryland.
There, I was able to obtain a few farms to help manage and hunt. Each year since 2012, I have found myself becoming a better hunter as I filmed my own hunts. Sure, many times filming hinders success, but it also has many benefits.
I can honestly say filming your own hunts has many benefits. Many can see some of our footage, either the edited or soon to be produced videos, and may disagree.
Yes, movement and wasting time trying to focus the camera has lost me opportunities at some deer. Yes, having excess equipment has hindered my discreetness as I head out to my stand locations. And yes, overall, sometimes, the camera just gets in the way. But I would be lying if I didn't say it has made me a better hunter.
Below are three reasons why filming your own hunts can make you a better hunter.
1. Increased Patience
Self filming has increased my patience in the woods a tremendous amount. I am fortunate enough to hunt everyday from the beginning of October through the end of November. Many of those days I am sitting in the woods from dawn to dusk. As the days go by and the the season nears it's end, I sometimes tend to get a little antsy and want to forcefully try to shoot a nice buck.
As a bowhunter, patience is already engrained in my mind. However, as you begin to film your own hunts, you have a new level of patience. Allowing opportunity to see what the deer may do before you just fling an arrow into the pump station, is one of filming's best part in nature. For me, I tend to enjoy capturing as much footage of the animal I intend to harvest as possible before the moment of truth. I can't make a show out of my films, by just turning on the camera, capturing the split second shot and calling it a day. I find myself with increased patience making sure to catch the animal in it's natural habitat and then when the moment is right, taking the shot.
2. Better Deer Management
When you begin to film your own hunts, you may find that your management skills will increase a tremendous amount. For me, I had gone from hunting highly pressured, public mountain deer to lower pressured, private farm deer. I do still however, travel throughout the North East region (Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Missouri) and hunt public land.
What filming my own hunts has allowed me to do is capture a deer that I would normally harvest on film, rather than shooting the deer. You may be thinking, how does that help in deer management?
Well, prior to filming my own hunts, I would shoot anything that was an eight point buck or bigger. I didn't worry about the age of the deer nor did I worry about the size of the antlers. I wanted to lower my tailgate back at hunting camp, showing the world that I was a good hunter and a successful one, by putting that buck down for a dirt nap. Now, instead, I can show everyone there was a chance for me to harvest a deer and I chose not to. To me, that is success. This still gives me the "bragging rights" but also the comfort knowing that next year, that buck will be older, more mature and will probably have bred a few does in the area to increase the herd population for years to come.
On November 12th, 2015 I was able to successfully rattle in 12 bucks within two hours. Now some of you may already be saying, "We don't have 12 bucks in our county!" I then have to ask you, what are your management strategies? In the past have you been just using the "brown is down" method? Have you and your neighbors agreed to any management practices? What are you doing for food plots to attract and retain a deer herd?
For every young buck you let walk, there is a larger number on the buck side of the buck to doe ratio on your property. If seeing more deer and shooting larger bucks is what you are after, filming your own hunts may be for you. Show them deer you shot on film rather than with a gun or bow and each year you will find more and larger deer in your herd.
Have you ever wondered why in football, the most important day of the week is "films day."
This is where the team gets together and watches films of their previous games. They also watch films of their opponents to study their movements. You can be more prepared for game day, by learning about your opponent.
By also visualizing what you are doing wrong, you can make corrections and be more prepared the next time out on the field. The same concept follows while filming your own hunts.
You should have at least two cameras running when filming your own hunts. The two most important camera angles that I always review even when I come home empty handed are my main camera and second angle camera. The second angle camera is the one that captures me.
What I have found is I was making many mistakes in the field that I didn't even realize I was doing. Mistakes like my movements, impatience or how much I am on my phone instead of scanning the wood line. I also found how much different I shoot my bow in the field than I do while practicing. I found that I draw and release extremely quick instead of taking my time at full draw to breath.
All of these I am familiar with and can correct, because I am filming my own hunts. I would be lying if I didn't say that at times the camera has completely upset me and several times I have lost opportunities to kill some of the biggest bucks of my life. What filming does for me other than makes me a better hunter however is captures my experience. My most memorable times at hunting camp is sitting around listening to hunting stories from my grandfather, father and uncles. I loved them telling stories of before I was even born and accompany those stories with the Kodak pictures.
I look forward to telling stories to my kids and grandkids someday and show them the videos of my hunts. There is no doubt that even if filming your own hunts doesn't make you a better hunter, it will forever capture your experience to share for a lifetime.