These days, self-filming has become a popular thing. A lot of people are starting to film their own hunts. If you haven’t started yet, want to know the benefits of doing so, and need a little help heading in the right direction, you’ve come to the right place.
I self-film all of my hunts. Sure, it’s part of my job now as an outdoor communicator. But it’s also something I enjoy. And there are other hunt-related reasons why I do it as well.
This is a hunt that I self-filmed last season in South Dakota. It was a great hunt with old and new friends alike. There’s many reasons why we self-film, but in cases such as this, preserving the memory is right up there at the top.
Reasons to Self-Film
Self-filming is a great tool that you can put in your arsenal. There are several reasons why it’s beneficial. Each of which are reason enough of why so many hunters are relying on it nowadays.
First off, most hunters self-film because they enjoy looking back on past hunts. They take pride in showing off their adventures to family and friends. And most importantly, it’s another way to help preserve memories afield.
Secondly, it helps you identify your shot placement on a deer. All you need to do is rewind the footage to see where your arrow (or bullet) hit. It’s also good for marking the path of the deer and where you last saw it after the shot.
Have the Right Equipment
Like with all things hunting, it’s crucial to have the right gear. You can’t do the job right if you don’t have the correct tools to accomplish it. That’s also true for self-filming.
Some tools you must have to do it. Other tools make the job easier and/or increase the production level. We’ll break these categories down so you can determine the basics of what you need.
When it comes to choosing a camera, the right decision depends on your personal goals and needs. I choose to run a camcorder, DSLR and POV-style GoPro cameras. That said, you may only need one or two of these to accomplish what you’re trying to achieve. It all depends on what you have in mind.
When it comes to self-filming, the fact is you can go as basic (or get as invested) as you choose. But remember, you get what you pay for. The better equipment you buy, the better the end product will be.
Understanding Camera Basics
It’s very important to know how to operate the equipment you choose to take to the field with you. Just as you wouldn’t go afield without becoming familiar with your gun or bow, you shouldn’t go afield without understanding how to use your camera gear, either.
For starters, read the manual. Study online tutorials that show you how to operate that specific camera. Watch videos to learn basic camera skills. This is an important process. You can’t be effective at something you don’t understand. Do your homework.
Also go into the hunt with a shot list in mind. Make a list of things you want to film while on the hunt. Below is a basic list to get you started. You’ll want to expand on this list based on your specific goals and situation.
Additional B-roll (anything that illustrates what you say during interviews)
The Setup Is Key
The setup is crucial for self-filming success. We can’t accomplish what we need to if we aren’t properly prepared.
I’m a right-handed shooter. So I set up the tree arm to where it rests just under my right armpit when sitting. This keeps the camera on my right side so that I can hold the bow with my left hand and operate the camera via the lanc remote with my right hand. Then, at the moment of truth, I can frame up the shot, take my hand off the camera, clip my release on the bowstring, draw and take the shot.
Framing Up the Shot
It’s important to capture what you want to on film. To do this, it’s important to make sure you know how to compose the (video) shot. Start by making sure the deer is in focus. You don’t want it to be blurry. When hunting in the open, I’ve found it to be much easier to self-film in auto mode. But when hunting in timber, you’ll have to run on manual, even though it’s difficult to do so and try to kill a deer simultaneously.
Also, remember the Rule of Thirds. Divide the viewfinder into three section horizontally. Always make sure the deer is located in one of the two outermost thirds. Frame the shot so the deer’s rump is near the edge of the frame and its head is pointing toward the two-thirds of the frame that is open.
Now See it All Come Together
A Self-Filmed Bowhunt
I love to bowhunt. It's in my blood. And I love to share my adventures with others. This was a successful hunt I had in South Dakota last season.
A Self-Filmed Handgun Hunt
Adam Millard, Realtree.com contributor and self-filming extraordinaire, is a die-hard deer hunter. And he has some serious experience in the solo filming department. Check out this past hunt where he self-filmed a doe kill with a handgun.
There is plenty more to learn about cinematography and effectively operating cameras. That said, this should get you started and on your way to self-filming success. Good luck in the field. And God bless.
Whitetails make the hunting world go round. Josh Honeycutt, deer hunting editor and "Brow Tines and Backstrap" blogger, knows a fair bit about killing mature deer. He was raised up hunting the river bottoms of Kentucky. And he still hunts there—among other places—to this day.
Follow along as he shares his adventures, experiences and knowledge of the white-tailed deer.