Beginners Guide to Self Filming Hunts

self filming hunts

So you want to get some camera gear and start filming hunts? Going back about ten years ago, I also decided to pursue filming in the woods. I had an interest in videography before I decided to do this, so it was only a matter of time before I took a camera to the woods. To my surprise, I found that filming hunts can have a steep learning curve, and the only way to climb that learning curve was by experience. In this article, we will look at some tips and tactics of the trade to give you a beginners guide to self filming hunts.

Self Filming Hunts – Cost

Self Filming Hunts Gear

I thought it would be best to start this article out by covering what is probably the most important consideration for most people, cost. 

In terms of the amount you could spend on filming equipment for hunting, the sky is the limit. On the high end, you could spend 10,000 to 20,000 dollars on gear. 

Now, I’m assuming the vast majority of people reading this article don’t have that many frogskins just laying around to blow on camera gear, don’t worry because there are cheaper alternatives, like bow hunting gear or gear for most hobbies and sports, it’s still not going to be cheap.

When it comes to technological equipment like video cameras, microphones, and the like, you get what you pay for, and going the most inexpensive route will likely deliver grainy, blurry, terrible video footage and audio. 

From a fiscally conservative standpoint, for a decent hunting package with excellent quality audio, quality primary camera, maybe some GoPro type cameras for different angles, audio equipment, tree camera arms, and other assorted equipment and gear, and editing software, I would estimate the costs being anywhere from 3,000 to 7,000 dollars for a complete package. 

You can decide to go much cheaper and have only a $500 camera on a tree arm, your final product may not be the best, but you’re still filming at the end of the day.


Grunt, Snort-Wheeze, and Rattle this to your buddies!

We will have a separate article going over gear specifics, including a more in-depth look at cost ranges per type of equipment. 

Learn the Camera

So you have a camera, the next step is to learn the ins and outs of the camera, how it functions, what every button does. Iris adjustments depending on the lighting, focus, formatting, audio adjustments, and other critical camera operations. 

Go in your backyard and practice taking “B-roll” footage, zoom in on a crooked branch, a bee on a flower, and practice, practice, practice. This practice will pay off when it comes to capturing actual footage, as your familiarization will translate to great footage. 

Self Filming Hunts – Audio

Crisp and sharp video footage is great and all, but audio is without a doubt the most important thing with video. How many times have you watched a video on youtube that had garbage audio? I can’t tell you how many times I have watched a video for about 30 seconds with really bad audio and simply stopped. 

There are two major types of equipment you need for good audio, a shotgun microphone or something similar, and if you intend on talking further away from your camera, a wireless microphone and transmitter, with the clip mic attached to your shirt or jacket.

“Dead cats” or the furry things that go over the microphones are critical as well, we film outside, and these will cancel out wind to a great extrent, improving audio quality and the video overall. 

Movements

Now, having a camera in your tree stand reduces your stealthy capabilities. When you start filming hunts it’s important to consider this extra movement, you will be swiveling the camera around to film approaching deer, or deer in close proximity to your location.

Setting up stands in trees with extra cover is a good thing to consider when filming, but its a bit of a double bladed sword so to speak. Extra cover while providing concealment can also block a cameras view of that trophy buck when the shot presents itself, what the hunter see’s and what the camera see’s are two different things. 


This is less of a concern when it comes to ground blinds, both with seeing the deer, and when it comes to concealing movement. 

Just like anything you are hunting, make sure your movements are slow and at opportune times, this is doubly important when filming as your are going to be making twice the movement. 

Self Film Hunts – Tree Stand Setups

Tree stand setups for filming is also a critical component to filming hunts. If you are solo-filming you can get away with a stand setup that has worked for you in the past for most situations, as the camera and arm are simply next to you. 

For setups with a hunter and a cameraman, you need to find a tree that is suitable to having two hang-on trees stands or climbers. Typically the camera operator sits higher above the cameraman slightly and off at an angle from the hunter, with the base of the camera stand just above the head of the hunter, or just above the seat of the hunters stand.

This is all situational and depends on the area, trees available, and branch make up of a tree. In some cases using two separate trees in very close proximity to each other is the best option, but as mentioned earlier, what the hunter and camera man can see might be two different things, brush or a tree can obstruct a clear view of a deer for the camera, while the hunter has a clear shot, and there is no way to communicate this to the hunter while this is happening in most cases. 

When hunting fields or open areas the two tree option is less of an issue, just remember if your trees are spread far apart a wireless microphone is crucial to pick up any dialogue being spoken by the hunter. 

Film Everything

You will be very surprised how much footage it takes to get a 30 minute “episode”. Back when I had an active youtube channel dedicated to hunting and fishing this is something that became very obvious early on. 

Film woodpeckers pecking a dead birch tree, film squirrels chasing each other, film the sunrise, film yourself cutting shooting lanes or planting food plots, film yourself walking to your standing and climbing up. 

Self Filming Hunts

All these clips of footage add up to tell the broader story, and much of it you actually won’t use. For example, I filmed extensively every single time I hit the woods from the beginning of pre-rut to the late season in December before shooting a buck on film with a bow. I saved tons of footage throughout that time, does hanging around my stand, rattling in buck after buck, groups of turkeys walking through the woods, scenic shots, close-ups, you name it. After boiling it all down and editing the footage from that season including the buck harvest I had a 20 minute video, derived from hours of footage. 

Make a Script

Have a plan for every outing you plan to film, do an introduction, film B-roll footage like walking to your stand, talk some more when you get there. Doing this on every hunt ensures that you get the footage needed when the day comes you actually film a harvest.

Doing this everytime makes it seem more genuine, and when you do it yourself you will begin to notice while watching professional hunting videos when they add in “fake” footage, or footage made after they actually shot the deer of moments that are supposed to be “before they shot the deer”. 

My personal favorite to laugh at is the fake excitement and joy experienced of finding the trophy buck after they have already found it and decided to film it as if they haven’t. Heck, I have even watched professional hunting shows where they already had foot tracks leading up to the deer in the snow while filming the tracking, because they already found the deer. Don’t be like those guys, be genuine. 

While its important to have some sort of script and guideline its also important to follow some of those script parts loosely. You want your videos to stand out, and not be a cookie cutter “run of the mill” video. 

Film unique and raw footage and don’t delete it if it isn’t up to a “industry standard” so to speak, make it as real and genuine as possible, thats what people really want to see, not scripted fake scenes. 

Self Filming Hunts – Wrap Up

Starting out filming hunts can be daunting, and making quality footage is hard. Making incredible videos won’t happen overnight, it’s going to take time and effort to create quality videos. If you keep up and dedicate this time and effort towards it you will discover your own tricks and more importantly your unique filming style and editing that over time will help you stand out amongst the crowd. 

Check out our entire Whitetail 101 Content Here.

6.5 Creedmoor Vs 308 Win

6.5 Creedmoor vs 308 Win

Many shooters and hunters would agree that both the newly popular 6.5 Creedmoor and the reliable 308 are both great calibers. Both of these guns are more than capable of taking game animals at great distances, and both are very accurate. But while the 308 Win has been around for a very long time, many may wonder if the flashy 6.5 Creedmoor that has taken the hunting and shooting worlds by storm is better. Let’s jump into this article comparing the 6.5 Creedmoor vs 308 Win.

6.5 CREEDMOOR VS 308 WIN

So how does the 6.5 Creedmoor stack up against the 308? And how do they both do when it comes to things like deer and bear hunting? Let’s take a look at each one individually and then compare both of them together to figure out the major differences!


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The 308 Winchester

The 308 Win got its start when the US Army replaced the M1 Garand with the M14 service rifle. This new rifle shot the 308 round, and it could basically do everything that the .30-06 Springfield did but with a few added benefits. It could fit in a short action rifle, and it was a little more accurate. This created a rising in popularity of this round, and many hunters fell in love with its accuracy and power as a hunting caliber. 

Another reason the 308 found so much popularity amongst hunters is its wide range of versatility. This gun can shoot a wide range of bullet sizes, allowing it to shoot everything from prairie dogs all the way up to giant moose. The most popular hunting loads for the 308 are generally 125, 150, 165, and 180-grain bullets, although the 150 and 165-grain bullets are the most popular for most situations. 

The 6.5 Creedmoor

The 6.5 Creedmoor, on the other hand, is a much newer caliber. Named the Creedmoor in honor of the Creedmoor shooting matches, this round was specifically designed with the goal of being the best competition shooting caliber. It has very little recoil, is extremely accurate, and has high BC bullets that keep their energy down range and buck the wind quite well. Because of all these benefits, it quickly found a home amongst hunters who wanted an accurate and reliable caliber for long-range hunting. 

Just like the 308, the 6.5 Creedmoor has a large variety of ammo that it can shoot. Its bullet weights come in many weights, with lighter weights anywhere from 120 to 135 grains, and heavier weights from 140 to 147 grains. The heavier weights, especially the 140-grain variety, tend to be the most popular amongst hunters. 

6.5 Creedmoor Vs 308 Win

So which one is better when it comes to hunting game like deer or even bear? Let’s take a look at a few different categories in order to better compare them. Starting with recoil, there is a clear difference between the two. Because the 308 is usually shooting a bigger, heavier round, it tends to have more recoil than you would find when shooting a Creedmoor. While it may not be much more, it is something to consider. 

Next, you have accuracy. Here the two guns are very similar, as both are very similar in size and velocities. If you have to pick a winner, the 6.5 Creedmoor would get the edge in extreme distances thanks to its bullet BC and its lighter recoil, allowing it to be very accurate. While it may sound like a 6.5 maybe a clear choice, the 308 does win when it comes to ammo availability and pricing. Because the Creedmoor is new, ammo is more expensive and generally harder to find than the traditional and trusted 308. 

Hunting with the 6.5 Creedmoor or 308 Win

What about hunting with these two calibers? Which one would make a better hunting rifle? It’s no secret that the Creedmoor has taken the hunting world by storm and may now be one of the most popular hunting rounds among deer hunters, but the 308 has the advantage of being a heavier round with more history and trust behind it. We know both of these rounds are very accurate and capable, so it will really come down to what you intend to use it for. 

When it comes to animals like deer or bear, either of these calibers is more than capable of being reliable, long-range hunting rifles. For larger animals like elk or even moose, you will want to stick with the larger 308 Win with heavier bullets. That is not to say that the 6.5 Creedmoor is not capable of taking down an elk, but most hunters tend to favor a heavier bullet from a larger caliber when going after anything larger than a whitetail deer. While things like deer and bear tend to die fairly easily from medium-sized rounds, larger animals like elk will take much more of a beating before dying. 

Which Should You Use?

So which caliber should you be using? As you can probably see, there really is no clearcut winner when it comes to these two rounds. Both are very capable when it comes to hunting, and both will be very accurate and reliable. Consider how much money you may want to spend on ammunition, or how important long-range accuracy is to you. For regular big game like deer or bear, either one of these will be more than adequate for your needs!

Wrap Up – 6.5 Creedmoor Vs 308 Win

No matter what you may think of the 6.5 Creedmoor or the 308 Win, there is no denying the fact that both of these calibers are easily two of the most popular hunting rounds in the country. Both are very accurate to long ranges, provide plenty of knockdown power, and are very fun to shoot. No matter which one you end up shooting, you can rest assured that it will kill whatever animal that you are hunting after!

For a review of the 6.5 Creedmoor vs 270 Win and the 6.5 Creedmoor’s viability for elk, keep reading here…

Sitka Fanatic Hoody

Sitka Fanatic Hoody

All right whitetail hunters, it is go time in the Midwest.  I have had this review of the Sitka Fanatic Hoody on the mind for some time now, but just haven’t had the chance to get it written and posted.  Since it is our favorite time of the year with the rut fast approaching, what better time than now to drop a review on a piece of gear that I have used and abused.

Background

Sitka Fanatic Hoody

Let me start with, I am not a Sitka fan boy by any stretch.  I think they make some good pieces of kit, but it is pricey.  I had no intention of wearing the Sitka Fanatic Hoody last year, and purchased it on last second at Cabelas before heading off to chase elk.  

If you are looking for a comparison of Mid-Layers that I have used (and there are a few) you can find that here.


Grunt, Snort-Wheeze, and Rattle this to your buddies!

Construction

Let’s start with the bones of this mid-layer.  It is constructed of a soft grid fleece, that is quiet and does a great job of heat retention.  That is the point of a mid-layer after all.  I have worn this now on two western hunting trips and on full whitetail season as an insulation layer.  It is durable, I am hard on equipment and this piece has stood up to my abuse admirably.

Features

There are a few things that I look for in a mid-layer that I consider must haves.  Especially when I use this both for hunting whitetails out of a tree stand and chasing elk on the mountainside.  The top three features in my mind, are a hood, a half zip, and thumbholes.  These should be fairly straight forward, the hood keeps the wind off my head.  The half zip lets me cool down while hiking or climbing a trees tand.  Last, the thumbholes keep this layer in place as I am adding layers during long cold whitetail sits. The Sitka Fanatic Hoody has all three.

Additional Features

The Sitka Fanatic Hoody also has additional features that set it apart from some it’s competition.  It has a hand warmer pocket that is similar to your favorite hoody.  The sleeves are cut long, long enough that you can roll them down over your hands to block the wind and retain heat.  I found both features functional on the mountain side and on whitetail hunts.  The sleeve length is especially nice when using a climbing tree stand on a cold morning as it keeps my bare hands from touching the ice-cold metal.

Now lets move on to the one feature I was not fond of, the facemask.  I find this feature a little on the goofy side and the first thing I did when I got home was break out the scissors and cut it out.  This may be all mental on my side, but I couldn’t see wearing a facemask.

Durability

Sitka Fanatic Hoody Hand Warmer Sleeve

After two seasons out west, and one full whitetail season under its belt the Sitka Fanatic Hoody has proven to be a durable option.  As I am writing this, I am picking my hoody apart with a fine-tooth comb.  There are no tears, the seams and zippers are all like new.  The Sitka Fanatic Hoody is starting to show some signs wear.  The wear signs that I see are piling of the fleece.  The hand warmers at the end of the sleeves are by far the worst example (see picture).  There is slight piling of the fleece under the arms, but outside of those two spots, it is like new.

Fit

Overall the industry seems to be moving towards more form fitting or athletic cut hunting clothes.  This piece is a break from that, as it fits more traditional, much like your favorite hoody.  Minus the elastic in the bottom.

Wrap Up

Outside of a pair of Sitka gloves I scored in the Cabela’s bargain cave, this is the first piece of Sitka gear I used.  I am very impressed with the build quality and thought that went in to laying this piece of kit out.  I am going to evaluate some of the other Sitka whitetail options as my budget allows and it just so happens their catalog was delivered today.

If you are looking for the most comprehensive whitetail deer hunting content on the web, check out our Whitetail 101 Section.  As always, feel free to reach out with any questions.