A hunter's success often depends on the ability to learn from one's mistakes. As any whitetail addict knows, a wicked case of buck fever during the moment of truth can significantly impact your awareness of the whole situation, causing you to miss on a sure-thing and second guess what went wrong.
The ability to review a failed hunt and pinpoint exactly what happened is an invaluable tool for hunters. That's why a hunting action camera can not only save your hunt, but also make you a better hunter in the process.
Take this hunt from last season for example. I had just taken a tremendous Texas white-tailed buck with my rifle, but was itching to run an arrow through a doe. Meat was on my mind.
My friend Wade and I jumped in an ATV two hours before dusk and headed to a tower stand on the edge of a wheat field. Deer scattered in every direction when we arrived, but I knew they'd be back.
Trouble was, when they eventually started poking their cautious heads out of the brush, it was obvious they knew something was up. Every deer was on edge, especially the old nanny does that I was focusing on to fill my tag. But they were hungry, so it didn't take long before the field was full of deer. It was just a matter of time before one would step into bow range.
Finally, a small group filed into my 30-yard comfort zone and I waited for the perfect moment to draw. For the past three afternoons, I had practiced shooting on the 3-D archery course back at the lodge. The doe at 28 yards was a done deal. I drew, settled my pin on the center of her boiler room, and €¦
Had I really missed? There was no signature thwack sound, and the doe didn't show any sign of an injury as she sprinted off the field and out of my life.
Yep. I missed. But how? Soon, headlights bounced across the empty field and my ride arrived. We analyzed the scene, picked up my clean arrow and motored back to camp.
Had it not been for the action camera strapped to my stand that evening, pointed at the wheat field, I would've forever questioned what went wrong during my shot. However, I reviewed the footage immediately when we returned to the lodge and discovered the doe had completely ducked my arrow. The illuminated nock flew at her like a laser beam, narrowly missing the top of her back as she dropped on a dime.
Recording your hunts with a hunting action camera has many benefits aside from entertainment. As I learned in the Lone Star State, the minimal effort required to run a hunting action camera is well worth it. It can save your hunt, even if that simply means saving you from mental anguish.
Here are several reasons you should consider employing an action cam in your arsenal.
1. Save Your Hunt
Like my Texas hunt, it's refreshing to replay footage from your hunt to determine what happened during the moment of truth. Did you hit the animal where you intended? How did the animal react when you squeezed the trigger?
A person's mind and body can go haywire after a shot, and if the animal doesn't die in sight, it's always possible you'll end up second-guessing exactly where it ran. If a tracking effort is required — whether it be within hours or the next day — a short video clip can confirm where to pick up the trail.
This is especially true if you made a bad shot, with little blood to guide your tracking efforts.
2. Identify and Inventory Other Animals in the Area
If you hunt long enough, at some point you're bound to catch a fleeting glimpse of a critter that you can't identify. Maybe it was a mature buck that you didn't know was a resident in the neighborhood. Perhaps it was your mind playing tricks on you. Or maybe it was that yeti — the one that you knew existed, but had never seen in the flesh.
Regardless, if a camera is rolling, you can review the footage to solve otherwise unsolved mysteries.
3. Determine Your Flaws
You don't just have to point your hunting action cameras downrange. Get yourself into frame and record yourself during the hunt. You might detect poor habits such as unnecessary fidgeting, obsessive checking of your smartphone, or even worse — bad shooting form.
Did you flinch when you shot? Did you lift your head off the stock of your gun too early? Did you drop your bow arm before your arrow left its rest? Did you punch the trigger on your release?
These are all questions that can be answered with a post-game replay from your action cam.
4. Show Off Your Success
OK, it's also totally legit to run an action cam strictly for entertainment purposes. Whether you're shooting a lovesick gobbler off the back of your harlot hen decoy, or folding entire flocks of ducks with your buddies, you might as well capture the memories on camera. Crack a cold one back at camp. Press play. Rewind. Repeat.
Or if you're a fan of sharing all your finest moments with Facebook friends or YouTube subscribers, upload your videos and wait for comments to pour in.
Just don't let your ego get too big, Hollywood.
EPIC | Instant-On HD
One touch. That's all you need to do with the EPIC Instant-On HD
action camera to fire it up and start recording.
The majority of cameras have separate on/off and record buttons, which are often impractical for spur-of-the-moment shot opportunities during hunting situations. The EPIC will power on and instantly start recording audio and full 1080p HD video at 30 frames per second with the touch of a button. A blue LED illuminates to give you confirmation that the EPIC is capturing your clips. It also comes with a convenient remote control that you can use to run it up to 100 feet away in open country.
This EPIC operates with three AAA batteries — easy enough to find when you're on the road, but unfortunately not rechargeable. A mounting kit comes standard with the EPIC, including a couple of strap and adhesive mounts. You can buy additional mounts, but none are perfectly designed for your gun or bow. Another negative: It's not the most durable camera on the block, and to make it waterproof you need to buy a separate housing for $29.99.
You can watch a redneck hunting crows with the EPIC Instant-On HD right here
GoPro | HERO4 Silver
still continues to largely dominate the action-cam market with its continually evolving technology and user-friendly features. The big news for GoPro's latest camera, the HERO4 Silver
, is the integration of a touchscreen display that allows you to control the camera and view your video clips.
The HERO4 Silver can record full HD videos in 1080p HD at 60 frames per second, or you can reduce the quality to 720p and capture 120 frames per second if you want to edit your video in slow motion. The camera also offers a variety of modes to snap great-looking still photos, including a Night Lapse mode for collecting killer shots of stars, campfires or other magic that occurs after dark. The HERO4 Silver has three field-of-view settings — ultra wide, medium and narrow — depending on what type of perspective you're trying to capture.
Like all high-end GoPro cameras, you can wirelessly operate the HERO4 Silver with the GoPro mobile app for, let's say, sticking the camera in your turkey decoys or on a bear bait and touching 'record ' from your phone when the bird or beast finally shows up. Yes, it records audio, too, and the quality is not too shabby.
GoPro continues to build its massive selection of mounting accessories so you can run your camera from just about anywhere. The Sportsman Mount is made to securely attach a GoPro to your gun, bow or fishing rod without getting in the way of your business. Strap a camera to your bird dog with the Fetch Mount if you want to see your pup's POV.
If you want to ditch the built-in touchscreen for a higher video quality, the top of the GoPro totem pole in terms of resolution is the new HERO4 Black, which shoots in 4K (four times the pixels of full 1080p) at 30 frames per second. Just remember: Most viewing devices (phones, TVs, computer screens) aren't even capable of displaying 4K resolution...yet.
Watch a YouTube user hunting ducks with his HERO4 Silver right here
. Or you can check out the stunning video clarity of the HERO4 Black right here
HERO4 Silver: $
399.99, HERO4 Black: $
With the Tactacam
, you'll never have to ask yourself: 'Did I hit record? ' That's because you can turn this camera on and start recording with the single press of a button, which also vibrates to give you confidence that you're rolling. There's some guesswork involved with aiming the camera, but it's an ideal action cam if you adhere to the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid).
Unlike most action cams that use wide-angle lenses, the Tactacam lens captures footage with a depth of field that's more closely representative of what's seen by your human eye. In other words, a deer at 20 yards looks like a deer at 20 yards, whereas wide-angle lenses make the subject appear much farther away. It records (with audio) in full 1080p HD at 30 frames per second, or 720p HD at 60 frames per second.
The Tactacam comes standard with a stabilizer mount for compound bows, along with mounts for firearms and other common applications. It's waterproof up to almost 100 feet, and it was tested to withstand the shock of a .50-cal. rifle.
You can watch a pile of hunting videos that were shot with the Tactacam right here
289.99 (flat black color), $
309.99 (camo or tactical black camo)
Garmin | VIRB Elite
brand has been synonymous with 'navigation ' since the time humans decided to ditch compasses and maps for the Global Positioning System. At some point, amidst our techno-evolution, we decided it's cooler and more convenient to store our memories on camera instead of in our shrinking brains. And alas came the advent of mini video cameras built for adventurers, now dubbed 'action cameras. ' Garmin decided to get in on the action with the launch of its VIRB
Today, the VIRB Elite is the top-of-the-line camera from Garmin. It captures full high-definition 1080p video at 30 frames per second with the touch of a sliding activation switch. This cam is tough: it's built with a waterproof housing and digital image stabilization, and it will record crisp clips during wet, bumpy rides. It's scary-smart, too. It can measure speed, altitude and even your heartbeat if you buy an external heart monitor.
You can overlay all of this information onto your videos during editing, adding to the production quality and helping to tell your story. How fast were you running after that gobbler? Where were you sitting, and how fast was your heart beating when you finally turned his head to jelly? Of course, its Garmin, so the 'where ' question is answered by a built-in GPS unit that tracks your camera's exact movements on a map. Sync the VIRB with your smartphone via Bluetooth to control the camera remotely.
You can get the basic VIRB if all you care about is shooting videos and still photos, but the Elite will give you all the extras. Garmin sells a wide variety of mounts for the VIRB, so you can stick it just about anywhere. Mount it on the Picatinny rail or scope of your firearms, on your dog, or on your own skull. That's a start.
Battery life is solid, with an approximate 3-hour run time on a full charge. Feed it a 64GB microSD card and you can store up to 7 hours of video.
Want to see the VIRB Elite in action? You can watch a whitetail hunting montage
, a spring turkey showdown
, or even an upland bird hunt from a dog's point of view
— all filmed entirely with Garmin's action cam.
299.99, VIRB ELITE: $
Spypoint | XCEL Stream
Spypoint is a Canadian company known mainly for its extensive line of game cameras. As part of its growing line of action cams, Spypoint's XCEL Stream
sets itself apart from competition with its ability to live stream video footage. That's right: Your significant other can now keep an eye on you to make sure you're actually hunting and not belly up at the local watering hole. But if they're so inclined to tune-in to your live action, you might want to issue a warning: May contain graphic footage, including but not limited to decapitation of wild gobblers.
The XCEL Stream records video (with audio) at 1080p — today's 'full HD ' standard — but it is capable of capturing footage at 1296p 'super HD ' (again, most modern viewing devices are only 1080p, so incapable of taking full advantage of 1296p resolution). This camera has a 2-inch built-in viewing screen for setting up your shots and viewing them after they're recorded. It can also be run remotely with your smartphone via a mobile app.
Choose from a wide range of accessories and mounts for a variety of applications in the field. It's waterproof and made for rugged outdoor use.
The XCEL Stream is so new that online sample footage isn't available yet, but you can view a review of a previous XCEL model — including hunting and fishing clips — right here