Back in my high-school zoology class, I had the chance to make up some sick days by doing a special project to present to the class. It took me about half a second to decide what my project would be. A hunting show! It was brilliant. I could do exactly what I’d be doing anyway after school and on the weekends, except this time I would film it and show off to the class how awesome of an outdoorsman I was. So I hijacked my grandmother’s Hi-8 camcorder, erased some irreplaceable family moments from a cassette tape and headed outside.
My buddy Andrew in tow, I headed out to the blind, to the deer stand, and even to the back yard to demonstrate the principals of calling, cartridge selection, and copious bonus footage of offroad driving.
I think my teacher made it through all of about 4 minutes of my 20 minute VHS edited masterpiece before graciously thanking me and spurring the class for a round of applause. I landed a B on the project, but I think she was just being kind.
Even so, ever since then I’ve been excited about sharing my wilderness experiences with the world. Or, perhaps more accurately, my disinterested friends and girls I was lucky enough to get into the house and in front of the television.
I’ve experimented with a variety of setups over the years. Initially, the sort of screen with a tilting camera style camcorder of my grandmother’s was the go to. It was free, and I was broke. This was fine, but it was big, loud, and you couldn’t shut off the screen, so it was like a giant flashlight that was on anytime the camera was recording. Not to mention that the battery life outside in a Midwestern fall was about the same as my new blackberry’s is on the equator. Insufficient.
The next step up was a more advanced Hi-8 camcorder rig with nightvision, a proper eyepiece and an easily tape-concealed light on the front. Although the annoyingly loud “BEEP” whenever the record button was pressed made it a total bummer for filming anything but waterfowl.
I finally upgraded to a 3CCD Mini-DV camcorder and used it for several years. It was quiet, compact, and easily concealed with some tape and camo cloth. That lasted me a few years until I snagged a Canon T2i digital SLR this spring. I’ve had a digital SLR for years, but this one shoots HD video, is flat black and ultra-quiet in video mode. It now comes with me on every trip into the field.
But this fall, I got a really exciting new toy to bring along as well. With a gift certificate to a local outdoor store, I purchased a Go-Pro helmet cam designed for extreme sports nuts (a camp in which I generously include myself) to bring with me into the field. This thing is awesome! It’s small ( about the size of a ringbox), waterproof, shock proof, dustproof and because it only has two buttons… idiot proof. Just what I need. Despite its small size, the video and photo quality is superb. Depending upon the model, the GoPro can shoot HD 1080i at 60 frames per second, which is perfect for those slow-motion takedown shots. It comes with a variety of mounting options designed to affix the camera to everything from surfboards to helmets. But there are plenty of options for DIY applications as well so you can get creative with that perfect shot. So far, I’ve experimented with a wrist mount that puts the barrel and target squarely in view while firing… unfortunately it’s difficult to get a non-target subject lined up quickly when not in this orientation.. so I end up pointing my gun at everything I want to take a picture of. Needless to say, I quickly went back to the drawing board on this. The GoPro comes with a headband attachment, but it’s a bit awkward and difficult determine when it’s recording. I’ve got plans for a stabilizer mount for a bow, but that build up will have to wait until I buy a new bow. That’s how these things work, new camera = new bow to mount it on.
Regardless, I’m convinced that my hunting videos will be kicked up a notch from breathtaking to all out inspiring. Ok, maybe I’m being a bit generous. When it comes to hunting gear, I’ve always preferred the hand-me-downs and heirlooms from family and friends…but when it comes to electronics, I’m a total gear junkie (or a junk junkie as my girlfriends have been known to call me.) If you’re like me when it comes to optical gadgetry then you’ll appreciate the novelty of this little gem. And so will your family and friends when viewing your Versus worthy masterpiece! Or so they’ll tell you. Action!