This past hunting season was my first attempt at filming the hunt. I attended The Life’s Outdoor Video School back in May of last year and I learned a lot. Taking my equipment out in bear and deer seasons this fall taught me a lot, too.
I did follow a recommendation from the Outdoor Video School just before hunting season, and that was to purchase a Badlands Camera Pro backpack. This pack is specially designed to carry all the camera equipment needed to adequately and successfully film a hunt. The number of pockets and inner pockets are amazing! There is a place to store my main video camera and a DSLR in the main compartment. The design of the backpack is excellent and comfortable with a fully adjustable harness.
My main problem occurred out on the first day of hunting season–I packed way too heavy! We typically hunt more than 2.5 miles from my cabin, so this means a minimum round trip of at least 5 miles. It is where the deer are and we have been successful at bagging bucks over the past decade, but carrying a lot of equipment is not advisable. By the end of that first day I was completely worn out!
My tripod is one that I use for photography but it is not designed for backpacking. The Manfrotto video head is likewise heavy and not easy to pack and carry. Almost as soon as I got home, I ordered two different items: a new Gitzo lightweight tripod and a different, lighter Manfrotto video head. In this one purchase, I cut the weight on these items in half, which will make my pack much more manageable.
Before this purchase, I experimented with some different options, none of which suited me. I like the stability of a tripod rather than a monopod for filming. My goal was to shave weight, be stable, and be portable enough to carry the gear while filming a still hunt. I believe I now have a much better and more efficient system to do this.
I will still use my Muddy camera arm whenever I am up in tree stand, but this new tripod and video head will accompany me on all other hunts, including still hunts and when hunting from a blind or on stand. I can attach my GoPro to the end of one tripod leg to allow from some self-filming, too.
I am learning the important lesson of going light when filming.