Operating cameras from a treestand presents its own set of challenges for those attempting to be SELFILMED. The primary objective is obviously to get off a lethal shot, however there are also additional things to think about in the moment of truth when running camera gear. The following tactics and techniques can be used to improve your efficiency and effectiveness of capturing a memorable SELFILMED hunt.
Purchasing multiple cameras is probably the easiest tactic and will immediately improve your ability to capture the shot on film and capture all the other action as it happens. The days are long gone when a hunter had to spend $1000+ dollars to acquire a video camera that would produce quality footage in the outdoors. Just a few short years ago High Definition was only something the wealthy could afford to view on television, much less an average hunter affording the cost of a High Definition recording device. Now HD cameras come in super compact, portable, and affordable packages that can fit anyone’s level of knowledge and price range. With the addition of these compact HD “point of view”, or POV cameras, self-filming has never been easier and more affordable. There are many makes and models of wearable HD POV cameras that can be had for less than $300. Epic, Contour, Wildgame Innovations, and GoPro are just some of the manufacturers making HD POV cameras. POV cameras offer a relatively cheap way to film two secondary camera angles along with a primary camera angle all for under $1000. Having 3 camera angles will take a lot of pressure off of your shoulders when the action gets hot by creating a fail-safe.
A fail-safe is something you use in the event something doesn’t go as planned or fails. This happens fairly often on treestand hunts where the animal escapes the primary camera’s field of view just before the shot or it happens so fast you couldn’t get the primary camera on the target. One of the two POV cameras now becomes the fail-safe allowing you to still capture the shot on film even if the primary camera is no longer on the animal at the shot. This on target fail-safe should be worn on your head or attached to your bow or gun and pointed in the direction of sight, hence “point of view.” I personally prefer to keep this fail-safe angle on my head as opposed to on my bow for two reasons: first, because adding anything to my bow I haven’t practiced with all year-long may change my impact point or bow balance. Even if it does not physically affect the bows accuracy its affects my level of confidence in my equipment and in archery having confidence is everything. Second, because until the shot your bow may or may not be point toward the target. With a “head cam” you will always capture the animal on approach and the shot from your point of view. This fail-safe angle coupled with a live action angle really gives you some footage to play with while editing.
The live action angle or “stand cam” is a secondary angle only recording YOU throughout the duration of the hunt. This is another angle POV cameras excel at. Having a wide-angle camera mounted to your stand and pointed up at you allows you to record yourself as well as you capturing footage with your primary camera showing that you are indeed SELFILMED. More importantly it will capture the shot in real-time without having to go back after the fact and recreate the shot for “b-roll” purposes. I believe I can speak for everyone that watches and has watched outdoor television as almost all recreated shots lack the realism and emotion of the same footage captured live as it happened. A lot of action occurs when an animal is rushing into a stand location and you scramble to get the primary camera on target and prepare for the shot. The live action angle is great footage that truly captures the difficultly of self-filming, and is some of the most rewarding when viewed well after the hunt has ended. As SELFILMED hunters we take pride in doing it all ourselves, without a cameraman, so use this angle to show exactly that! For right-handed hunters, attach the camera just right of center whether you are shooting a bow or gun as your face will always been better seen from the right-hand side. The inverse is true for left-handed hunters so leverage the left hand side of your stand. You can also attach this angle to the tree where limbs or other mounting devices can support the camera and obtain the same type of footage. Now that you have the fail-safe “head cam” and the live action angle rolling you need to get the primary camera on target.
Identifying your stand location and how the animals will be filtering into your hide can better prepare you to capture the animal and shot on the primary camera. If you are hunting a funnel or pinch point where animals will be traveling through then keep your camera positioned toward the most likely shot opportunity. Sometimes things happen fast and keeping the primary camera pointed to your shooting location may be the difference between capturing the shot on the primary camera or missing it. When the animal is detected in plenty of time take some pre-roll recording before the shot, however being prepared for a sprint into action should always be the plan. If you are hunting over a destination like a foodplot, feeder, or waterhole keep the primary camera pointed at the destination for the same reasons. We are often surprised by the arrival of animals and having the angle where they are most likely to end up may make all the difference.
Being SELFILMED isn’t the easiest of task, however there is no other form of filming hunts that are more rewarding. Acquire two POV cameras in addition to your primary camera to assist you in capturing the kill shot and live action on your next treestand hunt. Having the fail-safe “head cam” and capturing all the real-time actions will make your next SELFILMED hunt that much easier to capture. Most importantly, take pride in being SELFILMED and don’t forget to share your hunt with your friends!