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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Self Filming Your Hunts Part 2: Other Gear

We recently covered camera gear and what you need to self film your hunts. For this article, we are going to discuss the other gear you may want in addition to a camera. Since you are filming hunts there will be some special considerations to keep in mind. You will want to focus on gear that is not overly bulky and is lightweight. A 10-pound tripod may be a very stable filming platform, but when hunting you are likely already carrying plenty of gear and the additional weight/bulk will not be insignificant.

Fluid Heads

Manfrotto Be Free Fluid Head

Unless you plan on holding your camera the entire time you are filming (or wearing a GoPro) you will need something to mount the camera to. The first piece of gear you need will be a fluid head. A fluid head is a head made for a camera that attaches to the top of a tripod or mount and features an arm for smooth panning and tilting of the camera. You will need one of these to attach your camera to any tripod, monopod, or camera arm.

Most fluid heads are going to feature some type of base plate quick-mount system. You will screw the base plate into the bottom of your camera(s) and then can quickly snap the camera into the fluid head when you are ready to film. The fluid head itself just screws onto the top of your mounting system. I am going to make a quick recommendation here for the Manfrotto BeFree Live Video Fluid Head. Retailing for about $100, it is the lightest full-feature fluid head I have found and performs flawlessly. It weighs in at only 12 ounces which is very light compared to most others.

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Tripods and Arms

The next crucial piece of filming gear is going to be either a tripod, a monopod, or a camera arm. Your choice will depend on what hunts you will be filming and what your primary methods of hunting are.

Tripod

If you do a lot of hunting from roomy blinds or the ground, a tripod may be your best bet. There are many good options that fold up to a compact profile and can weigh as little as 3 pounds. No other mounting solution will give you the versatility you can get with a good tripod. The stability, adjustability, and reach of a good tripod is awesome to have when filming. However, they are not a perfect solution for everyone. They can be heavier than other solutions. They can also be bulky to carry. A 5-pound tripod that folds down to 16″ can be very cumbersome strapped to your pack—especially while travelling rough country or thick brush. One added benefit of a tripod is the ability to use it for binoculars while glassing or as a platform to mount your rifle to as well.

Monopod

The monopod functions much like a tripod with one important distinction: It only has one main support leg with three very small “tripod” legs at the bottom.  This can be a great space-saving feature if you are filming inside small popup blinds or looking to minimize bulk and on a backcountry hunt. It allows your camera to maintain a much smaller footprint on the ground than a full tripod. Unfortunately, you don’t typically save much, if any weight versus a tripod as the one support leg must be robust to support the weight of the camera.

Camera Arm

Lone Wolf Custom Gear – Pocket Arm

The camera arm is a specialty tool for the self filming hunter. It is made for people who hunt out of or next to trees. The arm does not have any ground supports. It mounts to the side of a tree via a strap and bracket. There are typically two main components: A base and the arm. Your fluid head goes on top of the arm which normally can swivel, extend, and support the fluid movement of the camera around the tree. Camera arms are simple to use, quiet, and allow quick positioning of the camera when a game animal is coming close. Holding the fluid head, you move it into position, point the camera where the animal will be, and then get ready with your weapon. Their weight generally hovers around the 3 to 5-pound range, though the new Lone Wolf Custom Gear “Pocket Arm” only weighs 1.6 pounds and is kind of a game-changer. If you are a whitetail hunter who hunts treestands, the camera arm will be perfect for you.

Conclusion

How you hunt will determine which mounting solution works best for you. If you do some hunting out of blinds and some out of treestands you may want to pick up a camera arm and a tripod to have the versatility of different setups. If you spend a lot of time on backcountry multi-day expeditions you may lean towards a monopod. My current setup is the Lone Wolf Custom Gear Pocket Arm for tree hunting and a Manfrotto BeFree tripod for everything else. Whatever you choose, make sure you spend time setting it up and practicing with it before you get into the field. Get out and film your hunts!

 

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