I walked gingerly down the two-track towards the old faithful “Wood Stand’ to sit a spot that was absolute money during the rut year after year. In the past, I have shot several bucks from this stand and the cool November morning beckoned me to the woods. I reached my perch, hoisted my bow up, knocked an arrow and waited for the heavenly anticipated sunrise. The sunlight hit the leaves of the cornstalks in the field I looked over. The woods started to brighten and I could see all the deer sign around me. I noticed a new scrape on the field line and a few freshened rubs were illuminated in the adjacent thicket. The shine of frost covered leaves forced me to squint, but I couldn’t help admiring the spectacle I was witnessing. I could see my breath and feel the thermals rising, but there wasn’t even a slight breeze that morning. No wind at all. You could hear a pin drop. It was turning out to be a morning to remember; a type of morning I like to call a “hunter’s morning”. I remember thinking to myself, “God…you’re really showing off.”
I soaked in the next few hours as this was my weekend cleansing ritual. Nine o’clock hit and I could hear the bells of the local church I attended. I was in my own pew this morning, but worshiping God and his creation through hunting. The bells echoed through the woods and a mystic feeling overcame me. I envisioned the moment of truth over and over as I do each hunt. At 9:15 I could hear corn stalks break in the middle of the field. Every snap of a stalk worsened the soreness in my throat and my heart began to race. “Here we go”, I said. The deer made his way right towards my stand and displayed its eight-point rack as it immerged out of the corn. The buck made a hard turn away from me with his nose to the ground as he searched for an entrance into the woodlot. I waited anxiously for him to pick a trail and inevitably close the distance for a shot opportunity. I vividly remember the buck turning hard and jumping a vine and as soon as he landed I made a loud bleat -“Mahh!” Nothing can compare to the feeling of watching an arrow fly true to its destination.
You should have been there. I wish you could have seen that hunt unfold. For this reason, I have obligated myself to carry a camera with intentions of capturing these precious moments on film. I can recollect that story pretty well, but if I could go back in time, I would have brought a camera with me. I have the proof of my hunt. The eight point rack sits on a shelf in my pole barn, but I wish I could relive that hunt in another way. Filming my own hunts helps me do that. Not only is it great to go back and rekindle the memories, but harvesting an animal on film all on your own is more than gratifying. Stories around the campfire are great, but having a story that can outlast your time here on earth is priceless.
With all of that said, I want to share a few tips with you that will help when filming your hunts. Successfully self-filming a deer hunt is much easier said than done. As hunters, we know the difficulties of harvesting a whitetail let alone throwing a camera in the mix. Which is why in this article I aim to provide a few ideas or thoughts that you should take into consideration when filming your next deer hunt.
Getting the Deer in Frame
Framing up the deer seems simple, however if you have ever been behind the lens, there are certain situations that have proven this task to be difficult. Especially if you are hunting in a thick bedding area in November where the entire woods is brown. Any seasoned deer hunter knows how easily deer can disappear out of sight or blend in perfectly with their surroundings. One minute that buck can be running right at you down the trail, and when you look down to find the buck in your viewfinder, he has disappeared like a ghost; and you begin to questio
n your sanity. I know the feeling. Keeping your eye on the deer is very important in this situation, but if we want to get him in frame, it will take even more concentration. The key is to try and pick the deer up when he is moving slow or completely stopped. When the deer are at a walking pace or not moving at all, look down in your viewfinder and find their antlers, tail or throat patch. If you are struggling to find the deer in your viewfinder, zoom out completely and concentrate on making actual visual contact with the deer. Once you pinpoint its location, pick out a plainly noticeable object that is near or within your line of sight. This may be a dark dangling branch or a moss covered stump. Register in your mind the location of the deer in relation to where the object is that you chose and start zooming in. Once you have the object in frame, you can move the camera to get the deer in frame based on its position near your chosen object. To simplify, find something near the deer that is easy to see in your viewfinder and zoom in on it to help you get the deer in frame. This tactic can be especially helpful when you are hunting in dense cover.
Camera Arm Position
To cover the basics, be sure to position the base of the camera on the side of your release aid so you can easily reach the camera arm while holding your bow. Lefties keep the camera arm on the left and righties keep it on the right. Camera position awareness is important, so when you get settled in you need to ensure your bow and camera arm are in close reach. You need to limit your movements while on stand and by keeping you camera and camera arm near your “reach” hand will help you accomplish this. This may seem rudimentary to some, however knowing your camera arm position is so important, and if it is not taken seriously, it can cost you shot opportunities. I can tell you from experience that there is much more concentration involved when self-filming. To prevent from having issues with your camera arm positioning I recommend practicing and becoming while acquainted with your camera set up. Just like a hockey player gets to explore the capabilities of his stick, you must acclimate yourself with your camera arm. Many camera arms are adjustable so the user can level the camera. Know what your camera arm can do and practice getting set up. Start your practice session from the very beginning of climbing your tree to the very end when you mount your camera. The more practice reps you get in before the season, the more efficient you are going to be getting setup and you will know your equipment well. Like I said, this may sound very simplistic but if you blunder while filming a monster buck you’ll be wishing you had given this bit of advice more acknowledgment.
Speaking of blunders, if you self-film enough you will eventually make mistakes. It is inevitable and the name of the game is to limit the frequency and severity of the errors. One of the most costly mistakes of self-filming is jamming yourself with the camera arm while attempting a shot at an animal. How does this happen? Often we are so focused on getting the deer on film and the process of executing a shot takes a back seat. So subconsciously we center the camera and camera arm between our body and the deer to more easily get the deer into frame. It is natural and sensible, however, this causes the camera arm to obstruct our ability to make a shot. Can you tell that I have had this happen to me before? The key to prevent yourself from jamming is to keep your camera one foot off your reach hand hip. I am left handed, so I will position my camera one foot off my left hip and I find it easier to reach if it is higher on my hip. This makes it easy for me to reach, and by maintaining the same distance from my hip on each hunt, I am fully aware of my camera’s position. Muscle memory will kick in if I have to make any sort of adjustment. In addition, this keeps the camera arm out of the shooting lane and preventing the bow from hitting the camera or camera arm. Once again, this is definitely something you will need to practice along with getting your camera arm setup. One cannot simply walk into the woods with a camera, camera arm and bow and expect to operate perfectly. When the moment of truth comes you need to be prepared. Repetition is going to create muscle memory, so when that buck does make an appearance, you are going to act fluently and proficiently.
When it comes to self-filming, one of the best tips that I can provide is to make sure you have some sort of wrist strap for your release. If you shoot a thumb release you need to invest in getting a wrist strap for it. This is so important simply because it allows you to adjust your camera during crucial times. Imagine being at full draw and you look down in your viewfinder to watch your target deer walk just out of frame. What do you do? I can tell you that many situations like this won’t allow you to let your bow down, adjust your camera and then draw back again. That is just too much movement and it takes up too much precious time during an event where seconds can decision an outcome. With a wrist strap you will be able to sustain your draw, reach down, adjust the camera to frame up the deer and execute a shot even under the copious amounts of stress that the harvest moment brings. Keep in mind less movement is more when it comes to deer hunting. The aforementioned method of adjusting your camera while at full draw beats the “re-draw” method 9.9 times out of 10. Lastly, have you ever had to make adjustments while at full draw? If you haven’t then I strongly suggest practicing and practicing a lot. Like I said before, get to know your gear and familiarize yourself with difficult, yet often much-needed maneuvers to help you get the deer in frame. If you haven’t noticed a theme here I’ll just tell you flat out- practice, practice, practice. Great athletes practice meticulously even the smaller components of their game to be successful. Why would practice to self-film a buck of a lifetime be treated any differently?
Bringing a camera to the woods is cumbersome and self-filming is a lot of hard work. It’s easy to say that lugging all the extra gear around is too much and not worth the effort. Many people decide not to self-film for that reason alone. But there is something very different about going down the road less traveled and reaching your destination. Keep some of these tips in mind while on your self-filming journey and expand on them. There is always something to learn and discover when you are challenging yourself.
Any successful deer hunter will tell you that scouting, planning and preparing plays an important role in their operating rhythm. Over the years, I have gathered from whitetail experts that in order to consistently harvest mature deer it comes down to knowing the herd and knowing the land. In order to uncover pertinent information, one has to scout, study maps and document their discoveries. As die-hard hunters, we all know how much time and effort we put into scouting. Additionally, we also know that there is a lot of information about the locations we are hunting. The amount of information can be overwhelming and I find myself unorganized more often than not. When this happens, I may find out after the fact that if I prepared a little more, or took the extra step to simply organize my planning, I could have had better results than I achieved. With this in mind, I thought it would be beneficial to talk about the tools that are available to us that would help organize the information we collect while scouting and planning for the upcoming season.
GIS Mapping and Plat Maps
If you are unfamiliar with the acronym “GIS”, it stands for Geographic Information Systems and it is the electronic form of a Plat book. Plat maps are phasing out simply because it is much more inexpensive and efficient to have everything electronic. If you want to find the GIS mapping for your county just type “GIS Your County, Your State” and it will populate a link to the county’s website. There you can search through your county’s GIS data library and pick what area you wish to research. You will be able to see the road names, land owner names, acreage and water system names. Not all counties are operating with GIS mapping, but it is no secret that everything is moving to 100% electronic. So if you cannot find GIS mapping for your county you will need to revert to a plat map. What’s great is that you can print off the desired page of parcels you want to take with you on the road when you go scouting or door knocking. Take notes on the back of the page about the people or activities in the area that might help you with planning your hunting locations. If I find out that the neighboring land owner likes to log trees frequently during the fall, which will drive deer away from that particular area, and I will make a note to remember this when setting up my stands.
Google/Bing and Paint
Two great online mapping sites to use would be Google or Bing. I favor Google over Bing because based on my experience Google updates their imagery more frequently than Bing. Although my buddy would argue that Bing is better because of its “Bird’s Eye View” feature, which enhances the details of the land features in the image. Either one you use you can’t go wrong. When using this tool you are simply looking for key land features; such as funnels, pinch points, crop fields etc. This will give you an idea on where to start your scouting. Once you have scouted a particular area, you should save the map image you found in Google to your computer. You can do this by pressing the “Print Screen” button on your keyboard once you have your desired image within the frame of your monitor. This will “copy” your desired image and allow you to paste it in another program.
I suggest using paint or a similar program to map out everything you find and what your plans are for that particular area. Create a key as I did in the image below. You can draw out everything you find and save the image once you are done so you can go back and analyze your findings. This will lay everything out so to speak, and really give you an idea of not only what the deer are doing within the area, but also where you may need to setup for a shot opportunity. You can mark where your potential stand locations would be, or where you want to setup up a trail camera. This really helps put the pieces together to display the big picture for you on one screen.
Scoutlook has been around for quite some time and they continue to improve their application. You can do many of the actions that I suggested in the Paint program using a Google image. You can track your stand locations, trail cameras, and mark other waypoints, but I haven’t been able to draw out the details that I wish to in Scoutlook; which is why I still like to use the Google image and Paint. Truthfully, I use Scoutlook more during the season because it provides critical information about wind direction, temperature and barometric pressure in near real time. I can also use Scoutlook to determine ahead of time what stands are good for a certain wind direction, and based on my scouting efforts and trail camera pictures, I can choose a location to hunt efficiently. These resources help make organizing the information collected in the offseason much easier; which ultimately aids in making educated decisions about where to hunt during the season.
Wunderground.com and Weather Data
Do you ever go back through your trail camera photos and wonder why a buck made an appearance at a certain time? I am sure all of us do this, and finding the answer is next to impossible simply because there are many uncontrollable variables that influence deer movement. The variables are more irrepressible during the rut when bucks are focused on breeding. However, I have learned through other experts that data tracking may provide some clues to help pattern deer movement during parts of the season when they can be patterned. Wunderground.com is a weather based website that not only provides real-time weather information, but it also provides historical weather data as well. You can find the temperature, barometric pressure, and wind direction etc. for any day of the previous year. So if you have a buck appear in daylight on October 15th, and you want to know what the weather was during that day or week, you can search Wunderground.com’s historical weather data to see that information. Perhaps a cold front moved through during that timeframe, or there was a significant pressure increase that week. There are a number of conclusions that can be drawn by collecting this data and comparing it to deer movement. This not only useful during the offseason, but it can also be beneficial during the season to help make timely decisions.
There is one drawback to wunderground.com. The weather information is pulled from a major city’s airport, so really the historical weather data is reporting the weather at that specific airport. So if your hunting location is nowhere near a major city’s airport then this information may not do you any good. However, if you hunting location is nearby then this data is going to be more relevant for you. There is another way to collect relevant and applicable information to your hunting area. Unfortunately, it will require a little work on your part however, this can be very beneficial. Simply create an Excel spreadsheet that lists all your stand locations and organizes the pertinent weather information. You look at the weather each day during the season right? Record the wind direction, temperature, barometric pressure etc. for each day of the month. It’s an extra step in the process, but you will be happy that you captured this information when planning your strategy both in and out of season.
Hopefully, these resources are something you will consider using for this coming season. I know at first glance it sounds like tedious, desk work and no one likes that. We want to enjoy the outdoors and the experiences that we have on the hunt. However, I can assure you that a little time spent organizing yourself utilizing the aforementioned tools will pay off big time for you in the fall. These are tips that myself and many experts have used in the past to be successful. If you have any tips that will help with offseason scouting please share them in the comments section below. I look forward to hearing about your success in the woods next season. Until then, stay fierce and keep scouting!
I was scrolling through my newsfeed and couldn’t help to notice that Huntervids had featured another video on their Facebook page. I earnestly clicked the link because I have yet to be disappointed with the exceptional stories posted by Huntervids. There are some great storytellers out there, and Sons of the Hunt’s documentary was no exception. I enjoy documentaries over “Big Buck Videos” because there is more involved than just the actual hunt itself. In my opinion, it’s much more meaningful and authentic. From start to finish I was engaged and their story was well told. I found myself quite moved by their experiences and I am sure that was their intention when they created the film. However, and maybe I am alone in thinking this, I found myself mulling over a number of thoughts regarding their process to produce this documentary. After finishing the film, I felt moved and inspired but I had to learn more about the three friends who told an amazing story of their 2014 deer season.
Sons of the Hunt was built on a strong friendship between three friends that had a common goal of piecing together their stories from the field. Mark Misura’s encounter and successful harvest of a well-known buck in his community sparked his interest in filming his own hunts. Driven by his passion for hunting and filming, Mark reached out to his good friends Mitchell Pope and Bryan Filarsky with the idea of documenting their deer hunting stories to inspire others. Both Mark and Mitchell have had great success in the woods and both show the same strong passion for deer hunting. Bryan, having a major in graphic design, is well versed in videography and photography. With this background, Bryan was able to successfully advise Mark and Mitchell on what cameras to use and how to use them to tell their story. With their skill sets combined, they made a great team and managed to produce a noteworthy story. It is amazing what can happen when talented people work together towards a common goal.
I was very impressed by the footage quality and what they used to film their hunts. Bryan made a bold recommendation for Mark and Mitchell is purchase DSLR cameras as opposed to a much more user-friendly HD camcorder. If you have never worked with a DSLR camera, very few are compatible with remotes or zoom controllers; making it difficult to focus or zoom in while self-filming. However, the quality of the picture is unmatched at a price-point compared to other camcorders, so the team decided to use DSLRs to self-film their hunts.
Mark’s Camera Equipment:
-Muddy Outdoor Camera Arm with silent strap
Mitchell’s Camera Equipment:
-Muddy Camera Arm with silent strap
Crazy right? At least I think so. I’m sure most of you reading have shot deer right? Cool. Well try shooting a rutted up whitetail buck AND capture your hunt on film with a DSLR that you can only focus or zoom by manually adjusting the lens. During the documentary, I noticed that they were using DSLRs and didn’t see any remotes or zoom controllers. If someone advised me to strictly use a DSLR to self-film my hunt I would be in serious doubt that I could be successful.
Apparently, I am not the only one who thinks that successfully self-filming with a DSLR is nearly impossible. Mitchell experienced some adversity of his own when an unnamed local hunter and videographer learned that he would be attempting to self-film with a DSLR. Mitchell told this unnamed person about their task and the unnamed person’s insight was, “You’ll never be able to do it”- ultimately deeming their mission unachievable. Needless to say, he was proven wrong when both Mitchell and Mark managed to harvest more than respectable whitetail bucks on film. There’s proof at the end of this article- just press play. I am a huge fan of the underdog in any story. Mostly because I have often been the underdog myself. Nothing is more gratifying than defying the negative words of the “nay-sayers”.
How they managed to capture these hunts on film is quite impressive, to say the least. Mark informed me that both he and Mitchell took the time to practice and fully understand how their cameras work. Prior to the start of the deer season, Mark and Mitchell practiced zooming and anticipating the distance of their desired target. I think this a great example of getting to know your camera. Mark and Mitchell saw the importance of this, and with the help and guidance from Bryan, they were able to become sufficient at anticipating the distance of an animal in shooting range. You will see in the documentary that their offseason dedication really paid off when the moment of truth arrived.
The guys at “Sons of the Hunt” took on the challenge of self-filming and overcame the many obstacles that come with it. This team is a perfect example of what three friends can do when they work together and feed off of each other’s strengths. Like many others, I truly enjoy reading, listening or watching the stories of other hunters. The storyline of their deer hunting season alone is something to appreciate. But as a fellow self-filmer, I really admire the work and talent behind a production such as “Ghost”. I hope you guys enjoyed reading about the Sons of the Hunt’s work and if you have any questions for these guys you can look them up on Facebook. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy this featured production just as much as I did.
Very few accept the challenge of self-filming, and even fewer hunters become successful at it. It requires a unique mindset and approach to hunting. The process splits you right down the middle; focus on the hunt and give precedence to the camera. I enjoy the challenge and I really enjoy hearing from others about their experiences with self-filming. I managed to stumble across Greg Litzinger, a New Jersey native and die-hard solo-cam hunter, on Instagram and I started going through some of his photos. Greg goes by @bowhunting_fiend on Instagram and he has been filming his own hunts for five years now. His most recent harvest captured on film, which is featured in this article, really caught my eye and moved me to connect with him; and I am glad I did.
Greg not only managed to achieve the eminently coveted goal of killing an exceptional buck in frame, but he also did it on highly pressured public grounds. After watching the video, I wanted to know more about Greg’s self-filmed hunt and his background. I am so glad I had the chance to talk with Greg because I not only learned more about self-filming, but I also learned that you do not need a ton of money to get into this sport.
Before diving into the facts of the hunt, I asked Greg to describe the equipment he uses. His camera and hunting setup is listed below:
I have to give Greg some serious credit for his resourcefulness. When Greg first got into filming his own hunts he did not want to spend a lot of money. He bought a relatively inexpensive camera for $250, which the Canon Vixia HF 100 right now can be bought on Amazon for $79 used and $335 new, and he bought a used Lone Wolf Camera arm for $70. In total, he got his filming career started with under $350 of camera equipment.
Through the years, Greg made improvements to his setup after noticing some minor flaws in his equipment. He purchased square aluminum tubing to serve as an extension for his camera arm to optimize his reach; which only cost him $3 at Home Depot. In addition, Greg noticed that the head of the camera arm would often stick since it was not a fluid head. So he took the camera head apart, sanded the swivel sockets and coated them with grease and- Voila! DIY fluid head. With this simple modification, Greg turned his standard pan head into a self-made fluid head. I was amazed at Greg’s ingenuity. I now believe that many of the standard pan heads out on the market can be improved by simply using Greg’s clever tip.
If you are not familiar with the “run and gun” style of hunting it basically consists of throwing a stand on your back and moving in on deer aggressively. Greg is a very aggressive hunter and it has paid off for him- he has the footage to prove it. He is a student and follower of hunting
styles taught by guys like Dan Infalt, JohnEberhart and Greg Miller. Three out of the last four years Greg has been able to harvest impressive public land whitetail bucks. There is a lot of work that goes into hunting whitetails, but there’s more work that goes into a successful whitetail hunt on public land. Greg makes it look easy, but I can attest to the difficulties and frustrations of public land hunting.
The name of the game is, “Go where no one else wants to go”; and Greg is very proficient at this. For this hunt, Greg hiked for over an hour up to 1400 feet of elevation with all of his equipment into a buck bedding area. The previous spring he had found a few buck beds with several rubs in this area. It is not a popular tactic for hunters to move in aggressively on buck beds. But Greg gives credit to this tactic for his most recent successes in the deer woods. “I like hunting right on top of beds”, says Greg. “When you’re hunting public, you can’t wait for perfect.” Some might gawk at this high risk, high reward approach to hunting deer, but its effectiveness has been proven by many. Starting off Greg made a lot of mistakes and he admitted that he didn’t spend as much time on strategy as he should have. As time went on he got more methodical with his aggressive approach and it is now a tactic that he uses exclusively. Getting in close proximity to where a buck spends most of his time is very difficult to do let alone capturing the entire experience on film.
After filming for five years now, Greg voiced to me that filming is something he takes a lot of pride in. “If I don’t bring a camera with me I feel naked”, Greg admitted. It takes a strong commitment to bring a camera to the woods for each and every hunt. Not many people fully understand this until they actually try it themselves. Many people wonder why anyone would want to bring a camera to the woods. When I asked Greg this he responded, “I want to create a timeline for myself- I want to build my story so I can show people what I did.” I think there is a lot to be said about storytelling and creating memories. Filming your hunts is a lot more than a bow and camera. It’s about crafting YOUR story and inspiring people now and in the future. Greg’s passion really shined through when we talked about our purpose and I am really glad I can share this passion with someone else.
I learned a lot from this interview with Greg. I came away inspired and stimulated with ideas for my next public land hunting adventures. I hope you enjoyed reading about Greg’s background and his most recent self-film success. If you want to find Greg follow him out on Instagram @bowhunting_fiend. And if you have any questions or feedback about the video or article use the comments section below. Thanks for reading and enjoy Greg Litzinger’s 2015 self-filming success!
Self-Filming a Hunt: There are several different types of hunters. The meat hunters, the management hunters, the “one and done” hunters, the die-hards and the leisurely hunters. In other words, hunting is comprised of many different levels, and not one level is better than the other. Hunting is what you make it out to be. Everyone has their own definition of challenges and passions within the realm of hunting. But one task really sticks out above the many challenges within hunting- and that’s self-filming a hunt.
Four years ago, shortly after harvesting my biggest buck to date, I made the decision to bring a camera with me every time I enter the woods. My goal: Harvest a respectable whitetail buck on film. What started my passion for filming was simply the idea of capturing my experiences and sharing it with others. I‘m not talking about being on TV or anything of that nature because hunting is very different than what is portrayed on television more or less. I wanted to show my friends and family what happens on a cool November morning during the rut. A few of my friends that don’t hunt have asked me, “Why do you choose to sit in a tree for hours and stare at nothing?” Part of me understands their thinking because they have a skewed perception and as everyone knows the whitetail waiting game can be pretty dull at times. However, with self-filming a hunt.. if my non-hunter friends could only experience the moment of truth just once I believe that almost every one of them would be hooked.
In order to spark a desire to experience the thrill of a hunt, there has to be a feeling of motivation. It takes a significant amount of effort to try something new on your own. So having a mentor, coach or idol is something we naturally want when learning something new. Typically, we find our way through life by observing and trialing. Dad showed you how to ride a bike or maybe he took you on bike rides because that’s what he loves to do. Then he bought a bike for you to try and learn to ride on your own. Once you learned how to ride your bike, you biked around the square mile five days a week. After out-growing your childhood bike you bought a competition speed bike and trained every day. You entered in competitions, excelled in the sport and eventually got invited to the Tour de France to represent the United States alongside Lance Armstrong. Where did you start? A simple act created inspiration that served as the catalyst for a deeply embedded passion.
Yes, that may be an exaggerated course of events, however, the point of my analogy is to demonstrate the effect of sharing our passions with others. Guiding and showing my self-filmed hunts to my family and close friends is small, but important part of my mission to inspire others to embrace hunting through self-filming a hunt.
If I am fortunate enough to be blessed with children one day I would want them to be exposed to the traditions and values of hunting. I would want them to see what it means to work hard and succeed at something at even the most basic level. It would be beneficial for them to see their Dad pursuing his passion, and maybe that will influence them to pursue passions of their own whatever they may be. Hunting has taught me quite a bit over the years and I know that by self-filming a hunt and sharing my experiences with others I can positive impact, at least, one person’s life.
So I accepted the challenge and simply my goal is to help or influence others with self-filming a hunt. I believe that there can be a lot of good drawn from self-filming a hunt and sharing my hunting experiences amongst ourselves as hunters. Everyone loves a good story. Everyone has a good story to tell. Whether you chose to tell yours that is up to you. There is nothing like capturing majestic whitetails on film in their element, and to be able to harvest one on film is a whole other level of an adrenaline rush that I have yet to experience. I have familiarized myself with the struggles of self-filming and the fact that it has challenged me as a hunter is what has kept me on the path of self-filming. If you have accepted the challenge of self-filming I would love to see your footage and hear your story. You can contact me at email@example.com or you can message me on Facebook. Stay tuned for more self-filming a hunt related articles and thanks for reading!
Whitetail Journal: “My hands hurt and sweat started running into my eyes. I held a Wicked Tree Gear hand saw in my left hand and I wiped my brow with my right. The task seemed daunting just looking at the jungle of thicket I intended to cut and thin out, but to push on I thought about what I always think about- that monster swamp buck making his appearance. Every branch I cut, every limb I broke and every log I cleared was moved with a purpose. That purpose keeps me up at night and awakes me early in the morning; so much sacrifice goes into hunting a mature majestic whitetail. I have been planning on cutting into this swamp ever since I laid eyes on two bucks that I would kill in heartbeat.”
There is one buck I call “Ocho” and he started out as a basket rack 8 pointer and has blown up in both the antler and body size department. I estimate him to be at 150 based on the pictures from the 2015 season. I can’t imagine what he will be in 2016 if he made it through Michigan’s gun season. He is at least 4 years old and has the large neck and pot belly to prove it. There is another 10 pointer that would have gone mid-140s this year, however he doesn’t seem to be the same size as “Ocho”. I would love to harvest either one of these bucks, but it is a lot easier said than done. I know the swamp water deters the other guys from entering the cattails, and I have sunken up to my waist twice already. But I am prepared to dive head first into the black muck if it means a single shot opportunity at “Ocho”.
It’s January and I am cutting lanes and clearings for mini kill plots with efforts to develop some type of game plan for these deer. It has been a while since I laid my hands on a decent buck, and at this point in my hunting career I want nothing more. It’s January and this is what I think about literally every day. The ideas, schemes and strategy consumes my mind rendering other events of any day insignificant. It’s January and my hand saw’s teeth bite into another sumac. I have never started prepping stand locations this early in the year before- yet it feels like opening day is only a couple days away. Did I mention it is only January?
I get excited about this part of the season because success relies heavily on preparation. The more one prepares now the better the odds of success. I am ready to be fully committed this whitetail season and accomplish what I haven’t been able to in over 4 years. The clearings I am cutting are not just to create a shot opportunity, but to also generate natural browse and potentially lay ground for planting a small kill plot. I gathered this idea from reading a great article by Jeff Sturgis of Whitetail Habitat Solutions. From what I understand, Jeff believes that deer frequently get up and browse around their bedding areas during the day. Since the area I will be hunting is right outside of these beds I plan on trying to get some of the existing red brush to flourish by bringing more sunlight to them. Additionally, I will look for some type of seed that is low maintenance to plant in select areas of higher ground. I am hoping to have this project finished long before mid-summer that way “Ocho” and the unnamed big ten pointer have plenty of time to get the whitetail comfortable with the swamp again. Trail cameras are going to be a game changer for me in this particular spot. All of the bedding sign resides at the core of the swamp and I plan to cast my net of trail cameras just 60 yards outside of it.
Before any of the trail cameras are broken out I need to continue hacking away at the swamp. If all goes as planned there will be stand locations for every wind direction, so if a mature whitetail buck is showing up in the area I can use the wind to my advantage. I really like using swamp waters, ponds and small lakes as barriers to keep deer from getting down wind of me. This spot is allowing me to do just that provided I clear out some shooting lanes and create some points of interest for whitetail deer to travel through. It all sounds good on paper, but the true test comes in the fall. I know that we all conjure up some crazy ideas and tactics to kill whitetails. Every die-hard bowhunter does. So I will continue to hack away at this crazy plan and pray that it ends with a mature whitetail harvest.