How to make a living filming hunts…. And other myths of the bowhunting world.
How to make a living filming hunts…. And other myths of the bowhunting world.
First off this could apply to any hunting but I am a bowhunter and really most shows now on the outdoor channels are bowhunting oriented so that is what I am calling this.
This easily could be my longest post and I would be afraid of getting flamed, but luckily I know that the new “average” in attention span is less than 5 minutes and far, far less if reading is involved. I know that it is futile but hopefully you at least read the entire post before replying and especially those that have already replied to see if what you are posting is already covered, but after reading countless threads on here I know that is a lost cause.
A friend of mine and I were talking and he suggested I do an article on this subject but I decided there is no way I could write what really needs to be written and have it actually go to print so here is the free, straight 100 proof version.
Recent posts about guys trying to film and the comments back to them spurred this on as it started the conversation with my friend. These posts for the most part are by younger hunters (under 45) who wish to make a living at filming or in the hunting industry any way they can (despite the 1000 times they tell you they don’t they would NOT put the effort they do into filming and being on Team so-and-so if they did not). They dream at night of Mathews or Easton calling them up and offering them a show and think that if their video is edited just right or that the perfect sound track is laid down they will become a success.
After analyzing hundreds of shows and dozens of deer classics (it’s what I do) here is what I have found.
To make it big on the hunting channels you need one thing…
Giant animals, preferable giant whitetails. As the number on animal it generates the most money in the hunting world. Start there then add a 400 inch elk and a 29 in brown bear. Sounds easy right. Just go to the best outfitters in the world and over about a half a dozen trips you should have enough animals to make up your starter “look at me video” to submit to all the hunting companies and fish for the great sponsors. Of course that would take many, many thousands of dollars. If you don’t have this kind of cash (and most don’t) then here is what you do.
Forget your morals and throw your integrity out the window that is step one, and after that step it all gets easier; trust me. Without those pesky things like values in your way you can do what a ton of others on TV have done and start taking giant short cuts. As I wrote before giant animals are what you need to draw the attention of sponsors. Not even beautiful women really do it anymore as they are almost as common as the dudes are now on the shows. Thank Lee and Tiffany and Pat and Nicole for pioneering this, and up to a few years back it might have been a way in, but not anymore. They found a niche, a new way and it worked out great for them, but now the market is flooded and viewers are back to watching out for giant animals. A beautiful woman might get someone to stop on the show, but a giant rack (deer kind) will get them to view the entire season.
So back to getting those giant deer.
Call up a few game farms in Ohio and Wisconsin and do one in Canada. Those place have 200 inchers for sale and they are legit enough locations that if you say you shot a 196 on your trip up north it does not garner the investigation and nit picking that saying the same things about your Georgia deer does. Travel to those places, make sure they are smaller sized and run by older individuals that are not likely to be involved in social media (make sure you check this out… ask OB). Do not tell them you are filming or mention anything about a team or wanting to be involved on television. In fact dress in suits and make it seem like you are there on a corporate retreat. Shoot those animals and make your highlight real. Edit it well to hide the fact you are in a pen and add in the actual hunts you have been on (Africa is the location for this part because the success rate is high, impressive animals are everywhere, and you can pretty much make up whatever story you want to go along with the video and it is cost efficient).
Now submit that video to dozens of different manufactures and wait for the offers to come in. Once you have secured enough sponsors for the next season or two, ditch the promo video and never show it again. Hunt hard at some actual legit big buck and bull outfitters and hope for two things.
!) You are successful enough at those places and back home that the sponsors do not ask about the video you laid down for the promo reel, or if they do you have a good enough backstory to cover it
2) Those sponsors are just too busy, lazy, or involved in other projects, to actually spend the time needed to scrutinizing your show and judging it against the video they picked you up for.
So…. There you have it.
In reality most of this would not work, too many holes in the idea but it is 100% true that giant animals, and giant animals only will catapult you into the spotlight and land you giant UA contracts. Finding a new niche will work for a while but really even finding something that hasn’t been done before only works some of the time. Remember how the show Headhunters started. It was supposed to be a show about the realities of having a hunting show and the “behind the scenes” look at everything involved. It started that way for about the first half of the first season, even as far as mock meetings with sponsors such as Wild Game Nation where they were giving them vailed messages about needed to be better and get some animals on the ground with their products. That fake stuff lasted about half of a season, now they are the same as every other show out there.
It’s 2015, almost 2016 and today’s viewers to the shows are mostly younger males that have seen it all before. They grew up now with social media and snapchat. They have seen beautiful women wearing nothing since age 10 on their first smartphone. They have seen all the shock videos there is to see on YouTube and the fresh and new has a shelf live anymore of about 15 minutes, only giant animals leave lasting impressions on hunters as it is something we all strive for and constantly in our minds. This is how you secure the Mathews and Hoyts of the world sadly, not being one of (and I kid you not I counted this at the last deer classic; 62 TEAMS and GROUPS) that want to be part of the industry. Your Team FMJ Killas, with your neon green shirt is going to get NOWHERE in the industry anymore, and even solid videography is only one of thousands out there now with the home editing tech and teenagers with nothing but time to perfect it getting better each year.
One final thought for those of you still tuned in.
If even an established group or show in the industry tells you something best think carefully about it before you take it as gospel and post it all over social media.
If a person or persons who are now world famous tell you they “were just like you and made it the hard way” and were broke when they moved to the Midwest and bought into a farm please stop and think about it. If someone who is truly broke (not just having limited liquid assets, but really broke) going to buy farms ANYWHERE? Is the bank going to lend them the funds for recreational land? How much down are they going to have to put, and if so are they really broke?
Think about these questions before assuming what you read is not a slanted view to help out the narrative they are trying to promote.
If a workout freak say he has a job outside the industry and is a normal guy with great work ethic (which may be true) ask yourself how “normal” is it to have 5-6 Weeks of vacation that can all be taken during the fall? How normal is it to fly all over the world and hang with famous people… then bring it up in tons of videos. How normal is it to have enough time off at lunch to run 9-10 miles then post the video, and on and on.
How normal is it to own a gator farm and fly all over to hunt?
Not trying to single anyone out, but think long and hard about what is behind the message those in the hunting industry are trying to feed you.
All of this is not to say these people and hundreds of others are not nice, friendly people and can be good friends and close hunting partners but they are an extension of the sponsors (while they are working) and that job is to make it seem like they are just like you and what separates them from you is the products they are using and you could to…for a small fee.
I have several friends in the industry, some of them are really close good friends, but I understand the work side of things and the personal side of things. I get that they have to make a living doing what they do, and just like your job it is not always cool as it might look from the outside. Those on TV had to work hard to get where they are at, but also realize that it is a different time and world we live in now and that to hop those established shows, or even to be put on the radar and a “rising star” is a whole different ballgame then it used to be.
Just think about this when trying to be team Umizoomi Awesome Hug Hunters and posting up your videos and wishing to make a living at it.