You can't swing a dead cat at the Archery Trade Association Show without hitting someone who is looking to make it big on outdoor television. It's not just at the ATA Show either. At pro shops, big-box stores, or just about any archery-related event, someone will pass through who is trying to be a television star. I'd say there is nothing wrong with this, but that would be a lie.
Don't get me wrong. The ability to make a living as a television personality is one thing I love about this country. However, I also cringe at the ability we all have now to film our hunts, and then disseminate them for the world to see.
Making bowhunting a spectator sport is not easy. What can be easy is showing something that offends the masses, which includes our most important allies — the non-hunting crowd that still condones what we do.
Some hunters say that's okay and that we shouldn't shy away from what we do. To an extent, I agree. But I'm also a big fan of discretion and tact when it comes to how we put ourselves, and our sport, on display.
Of course, not everyone who totes camera gear into the woods is looking to be the next Tom Miranda or Fred Eichler.
Many folks are just looking to capture cool footage of their hunts, or maybe preserve forever their son or daughter arrowing his or her first deer. Many folks who film hunts have no aspirations to achieve anything other than a record of their season in a treestand or turkey blind.
Whatever the case may be, there is no question that the self-filming market has exploded in recent years. In fact, finding quality action cameras to mount on a bow and film a hunt only a decade ago would have been difficult. Today, not so much. Heck, our smartphones are good enough to film hunts with, if we're looking for nothing more than a decent video.
I'm of the humble opinion that one of the best reasons to strap a camera to your bow is that you'll have a true record of what happened during the shot. Forget about becoming a celebrity, and just think about being able to watch your arrow hit in slow motion, which offers a huge game-recovery advantage.
In the heat of the moment, we often lose our heads and don't really know what happened, although we usually think we do. A bow-mounted video camera can tell you exactly what happened, which is the first step in deciding how to proceed after the shot.
In states where it's legal, a bow-mounted camera and arrows fitted with lighted nocks are an even better option. That way you'll have the best idea possible of exactly where your arrow impacted, how the animal reacted, and what you should do to recover it.
A camera can show you that the perfect double-lung shot was actually five inches farther back, meaning an immediate blood-trailing effort should be put on hold for four or five hours. That information is invaluable.
If you've got the self-filming bug, or are looking to ensure the best chance for recovering arrow-hit game, there are a number of options worth checking out.
iON | CamoCam
One camera that I've used quite a bit over the last year is the iON CamoCan
. Capable of shooting in 1080p HD, the iON CamoCam is waterproof, shockproof, and comes standard with an aluminum sports mount. One-touch recording makes operation easy with this ultra-wide-angle camera.
Gamin | VIRB Elite
I've also used Garmin VIRD Elite
extensively. This camera is also capable of shooting in 1080p HD and uses Garmin's WideVu lens, making it an ideal option for placing in a turkey decoy spread, or at the feet of a doe decoy during the rut. Easily one of my favorite features of the VIRB Elite is its 1.4" display screen, which makes setting up shots and operation extremely easy. You can also capture high-def photography with this handy camera, one shot at a time, or in photo burst or time-lapse mode.
GSM Outdoors | Epic HD 1080P
No strangers to cameras of all types, GSM Outdoors also offers an excellent option for the self-filming crowd — the GSM Outdoors
. One thing I love about this camera is that it operates off of three AAA batteries, so I can carry spares without worrying about having to get back on the grid and plug in a charger. Several accessories are offered with the Epic, which is capable of recording wide-angle, high-resolution images and high-definition video on an SD card.
Wildgame Innovation | AXE PRO
Nestled amongst Wildgame Innovations' extensive product lineup is the AXE PRO
, which shoots in full 1080p HD and is capable of capturing 5MP still images. This camera is designed with easy, one-touch operation, is waterproof up to 30', and has built-in WiFi capability. The AXE PRO also comes standard with a universal mounting kit to ensure you won't miss a second of the action while on stand, or sneaking up on a bedded mule deer.
Tactacam | 2.0
One of the most innovative cameras to hit the scene recently is the Tactacam 2.0
, which is waterproof, warrantied, and provides two hours of record time on a fully charged battery. Two things truly differentiate this camera from the rest of the market. The first is that it's capable of recording quality video in low light, which is ideal for bowhunters. The second is that it does not feature a wide-angle lens, instead offering a view that is very similar to what the human eye sees. This makes the Tactacam 2.0 an ideal choice for stabilizer mounts, and any hunters looking to capture the action of arrowing a passing buck, an approaching bull elk, or a black bear sniffing the air in front of a bait.
FUSE | Archery Playback
A brand-new option for the self-filmer is the FUSE Archery Playback
, which uses Tactacam's technology and, of course, boasts some original features as well, like the Stealth Band Technology. Store video on a micro-SD card on this 60-degree field-of-view camera that uses a 12MP sensor to record true 1080p HD video (30 frames per second).
Hunter's Specialties | i-KAM XTREME
If mounting a camera to your bow or strapping it to the tree next to you isn't your thing, you might want to consider the i-KAM XTREME
from Hunter's Specialties. Completely wireless operation is possible with the i-KAM XTREME, which is offered in both VGA and HD models. Built-in recording, or the ability to accept micro-SD cards, allows you to capture point-of-view videos for hours. These cameras are not only pretty cool for filming big game hunts, but also bowfishing, scouting, and long-range practice sessions.
S4Gear | JackKnife Smartphone Bow Mount
If the camera budget is a little tight but you happen to own a smartphone, you can still film your hunts thanks to the JackKnife Smartphone Bow Mount
from S4Gear. The JackKnife mounts right off of your sight mount and offers a view of the hunt as the hunter sees it. This is a great option for laying down footage of a kill, but it's also an excellent way to get a second look if you're using an over-the-shoulder cameraman or another bow-mounted camera.
Pelican | Memory Card Case
Any self-filmer knows that keeping track of memory cards can be a pain, which is why it's a good idea to own something like the Memory Card Case
from Pelican. Capable of holding 12 SD cards, six mini-SD cards, and six micro-SD cards, this waterproof case is easy to slip into a backpack and carry anywhere the animals roam (it's also ideal for running multiple trail cameras).