In many ways, capturing a successful hunt on video, especially video fit for broadcast or a commercial DVD, is almost as satisfying as being the happy hunter. It can be far more difficult being the videographer as compared to being the hunter, that is for sure. Filming your buddy’s hunt or your own is certainly getting more popular, and where it once was unusual to have a camera person along, it now is very common.
Make no doubts about it, a camera can be the kiss of death for a hunt if the camera man isn’t qualified or the hunter isn’t experienced to the demands the camera makes on his hunt. The final use of the video usually controls how much of a slave to the camera the hunter is. A couple of buddies hunting get what they get; it isn’t a serious deal if the deer is out of sight when the trigger gets pulled. On the flip side I’ve been a co-host and producer for the Outdoor Quest TV series for 10 years and there is no reason for me to pull the trigger unless the animal is in frame and focused.
Dedication to get the job done right will serve anyone hoping to do this for a living well. That dedication has cost me a couple of times; one time I do remember vividly was the largest Labrador/Quebec caribou of my life. While my judgement may have been off, my mind was still screaming “book animal, book animal” as the cameraman who was shorter than me struggled to grow six inches to be able film over the scrub willows. I watched that animal walk away and while tough to do, filming a TV show is a job and you are there to get the hunt and kill shot on tape.
One of my pro staff learnt the lesson the hard way when he ran out of patience on a Wyoming antelope hunt and shot his buck off camera. The buck was big beautiful and worse - unique. There was no tape rolled on it and nothing on tape looked remotely like it. It was impossible to tell the story of the hunt and then suddenly cut to this dead animal that we had never seen being held up for a grip and grin.
The story is what it is all about. We are trying to share our hunting adventure with the viewer, and if you as cameraman can keep the thought of “the story” in your head and shoot to tell the story you will be on pretty firm ground. Quality camera work means getting all the shots needed to tell the story. Now this may sound repetitious, but you need to get every part of the hunt. The editor needs the hunter glassing the animal and video of the animal. He needs the hunter loading the gun and taking the safety off and more of the animal. A nice reference shot, say over the shoulder with the hunter and animal in frame zooming smoothly to the animal and of course the hunter pulling the trigger and the kill shot on the critter.