-By Brandon Wikman
A wicked Boone & Crocket posturing toward your decoy, bracing himself to obliterate it would make great video footage, but come on now… what are the odds?
There are hundreds of savvy hunter and cameraman teams across the continent that strategize a full-blown, blitz assault on giant whitetails in hope of capturing the best outdoor footage of the year. It not only takes a lot of scouting, preparation, and tree stand hours, but also a whole bunch of luck. Something some have more of than others.
The majority of viewers who watch hunting shows demand trophy whitetail kills, which is a lot to ask for when hunting fair-chase deer. A slick-head getting whacked just doesn’t give us that excitement surge that mature bruisers leave us with. The only way to satisfy the urge is to roll film on deer that some hunters only dream about.
The reality and probability of putting an arrow through a record whitetail year after year is difficult enough, and once there’s a camera involved your odds become even slimmer. I was only introduced to the ‘filming side’ of hunting a few years ago, but I’ve learned more about hunting in those three years than I have in the previous six! Through the means of the television show I’m blessed to host, I now understand and am fully aware of the forgotten details a hunter and cameraman face.
Scent - We as hunters take every step imaginable to eliminate any variables to improve our odds versus a whitetail’s keen senses. Whether it’s lathering in scent free soap, chewing odor free gum, or tossing that charcoal-lined apparel in the dryer in desperation to beat a buck’s nose; hunting scent free is darn near impossible. And that is just pertaining to one foul smelling human body in the woods. Add a cameraman and you’ve got yourself some serious scent control problems.
Sight - Movement is just as critical in the deer woods as in the turkey woods. A slight motion of trying to point a cameraman to an oncoming deer can trigger a disaster. Selecting a tree that hides two hunks of aluminum along with 400-lbs of pure human outline is like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Good luck.
Sound - Noise pollution is a factor in any scenario, whether having a cameraman or not. When hunting wise bucks that have heard a bow hit the side of the stand or tree stand creak, there’s nothing left to chance. I was bow hunting in Buffalo County, WI two years ago and had a killer setup hung in an acorn garden! It was a sweet and tasty treat for an early season archery hunting location. I caught a glimpse of a solid 140-inch bruiser slipping through the tangles en route to the oaks. As he stepped within 25 yards, my cameraman had to adjust the tree-arm that held the camera steady. As he swung the arm around the other side of the tree, he stepped on the edge of his hang-on stand to grab a firm balance. A shrieking screech echoed from his stand and flagged the trophy buck back into his cave. That sound still gives me goose bumps today, but it’s something that you must respect when trying to make solid video kills. There’s no reason to cast blame or get furious at one another, it’s simply the name of the game.
When you watch your next hunting show, stop and think about all the variables that came into play for the hunter and cameraman. As a hunter, you should already realize the blunders and flaws that occur when an eye-popping buck slumbers his way in, a dose of buck fever will send him to the next property. I’ve been there and done that… I should know!
I am so fortunate to be a part of the ‘behind the scenes’ look at the production side of hunting. It is something I’ve grown to appreciate and I will always count my blessings when everything goes right and a buck is grounded on video.