I have been fortunate enough to work in the outdoor industry since 2000. Talking to some friends this week got me thinking about my job.
The first thing to remember is that if anything goes wrong it’s ALWAYS the cameraman’s fault! That’s the running joke between me and my videographer buddies. With that being said, We are the field Generals, we run the show. The hunter has to listen to our commands and he/she cannot shoot until we give the order! You will rarely see us on TV and we are OK with that!
You must be in shape and able to carry plenty of weight in this profession. From climbing mountains to climbing trees we have to pack all our camera gear, which runs anywhere from 40 to 60 pounds in my case, everywhere we go. The gear list includes video camera, tripod, camera arm, extra batteries, camera light, leatherman, rain gear, snacks, water and the list goes on!
You have to be a hunter first, cameraman second. Of course I started hunting before I ever thought about being a cameraman. Early in life I developed a love for the outdoors and remember the first hunting video I ever saw. It was Monster Bucks of North America and I thought it was the best thing since cornbread!!!! I had always liked to take pictures and once I saw this video I knew that someone had to run the camera! This video is also responsible for making me a HUGE Dale Earnhardt fan!
You have to be a very stealthy person being a cameraman. It takes one hunter to be good to get a trophy animal with a bow. Now add a second person to the mix with camera gear!! You are doubling noise, scent and movement! The cameraman and the hunter have to work as a team to harvest an animal on video.
You have to be creative and have an “eye” for footage at all times!!! No slacking in this job if you want to be in the industry long! From the time you leave your house you are on the clock! When your hunter is back at the lodge taking a nap, you better have your fanny out getting cut-aways for the editor. When the people in camp are eating, you better have the camera running for the editor! When you are traveling to and from your hunting location, you better have the camera running for the editor. As the the saying goes in the film industry, “Tape is Cheap!!!!” As a cameraman it is our job to catch every possible detail of the hunt because once you leave, there’s no going back to get what you missed!!
DON’T EVER LET THE HUNTER OR GUIDE BE WAITING FOR YOU!!!!!! This is a CARDINAL SIN! We have to always be the first ones ready. They don’t EVER like waiting for a cameraman!
You can probably count on your fingers and toes the number of Full-Time cameramen in the outdoor industry and I am very THANKFUL to be one of them! I spend my share of time in airports and airplanes. I have to leave my house at 2 a.m. to catch a 6 a.m. flight out of Raleigh. Once I get to my final destination I usually meet up with my hunter, we get a rental vehicle and drive to our hunt destination. Once at the destination i have to get all the camera gear out and hunt ready within the hour of arriving in camp and then head out to the woods! I have grown to love the International hunts and the only drawback is the LONG flights!!!! I had 4 flights in July and August that were over 18 hours each!!!!! Try sitting in a recliner for atleast 17 hours!!!! The bad thing is, I CAN’T SLEEP ON PLANES!!!!!
Spending a lot of nights on the road I have found a reoccurring problem! More than once I have woke up wondering, “where am I and which way is the bathroom!” Seriously, this past year I spent 156 nights away from home. You have to be able to sleep anywhere and remember where the bathroom is in this profession!!!!
You have to be a jack of all trades!!!! You have to be a hunter, a videographer, an audio technician, an editor, a lumberjack, a mountain climber, a co-pilot, and a friend!
You must be very proficient and hanging treestands day or night! Plus when you hang your camera arm you better not make any noise!!!!!
I must say I have met and worked with some WONDERFUL people! Sportsmen are special people in my eyes. It makes me feel good to get calls from the hunters I work with and they just want to chat and see what you’ve been up to. I can remember the day when I thought these people walked on water!!! Basically I never dreamed I would ever make it as far as I have in this industry! I am going to make the most of it and I hope I have 30 more years before retirement!
With all this being said, the next time you watch a hunting show, just remember there is someone behind that camera working their but off for your viewing pleasure!!!!!