By Spencer Neuharth
Hunters filming their time outdoors has never been more popular. YouTube agrees, where typing in “whitetail hunt” will yield more than 100,000 results. Nobody does it better than the guys at Heartland Bowhunter, though.
They’re known for laying down the most unique footage in the industry, capturing everything from bulls bugling in New Mexico to whitetails chasing in Missouri. Their award winning series is working on production of its tenth season, with its ninth season currently airing on the Outdoor Channel.
I got a chance to talk with co-host Mike Hunsucker, who gave me a quick glimpse into how their team prepares for a long season of filming.
Q: What’s one of your most important preseason preparations going into fall?
A: If you film year-round like us, there isn’t much of a “preseason”. One important thing we do before each trip is lay everything out and get everything charged, though. That gives us a chance to get organized and make sure batteries are the last thing we need to worry about on the hunt.
Q: Does your filming setup change from August to December?
A: Our setup is pretty much the same throughout the year, with exceptions to the type of hunt. Obviously we will have different accessories for a treestand hunt versus a spot and stalk hunt, like trading out a large camera arm for a tripod, but our core gear doesn’t change.
Q: Are all of your treestands ready for filming going into a season?
A: Most of our spots are set up and ready to go with two stands in them. Over the years, we’ve accumulated more and more stands to make this possible. Back when we were young and dumb, though, we’d almost always hang the cameraman stand before each hunt. That was incredibly time consuming and got old pretty fast.
We quickly figured out that it’s worth the time and money to get some extra stands and hang them before fall.
Q: Even if you’re completely organized, do you still find yourself making adjustments on the go?
A: Absolutely, especially when faced with camera gear issues.
Doing what we do, we have more equipment up a tree than we know what to do with. When it comes to camera gear, it’s stuff that isn’t made to be out in the elements. We’ve dropped cameras on every landscape there is, as well as have found inventive ways to get them wet. One time, we even let the tide come in and completely submerge one. You name it: we’ve broken it.
Stuff will always go wrong, no matter how long we do this. Luckily, we’ve got our system down pretty good so we know what works best for us.
Q: So, do you have backups for everything then?
A: Not everything, although between all of our guys we have so much gear that if something gets lost or broken, we can usually make it. If not, that’s when we get our money’s worth with Amazon Prime’s free two-day shipping!
If you’d like a much deeper look into how Mike and the rest of the Heartland Bowhunter crew go about filming and photographing their hunts – including their recommended gear – check out Episode #25 of the Wired To Hunt Podcast featuring both Mike Hunsucker and Shawn Luchtel.
Mike Hunsucker is a co-host of Heartland Bowhunter, which can be seen on the Outdoor Channel and CarbonTV. To see how season 10 is going, follow Mike on Facebook (@BowhunterMH) and Instagram (@michaelhunsucker). You can also check out the entire Heartland Bowhunter team on Facebook (@HeartlandBowhunter), Instagram (@heartlandbowhunter) and Snapchat (@heartlandbow).