Editor’s Note: Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland, today the vice president of Mossy Oak in charge of television and video production, may have filmed more TV shows and videos about hunting and the outdoors than anyone in the industry. Currently Cuz is responsible for producing these TV shows, including “Hunting the Country,” “Deer Thugs,” “Turkey Thugs,” “Inside the Obsession” and “GameKeepers,” as well as all the videos that Mossy Oak produces. A growing number of sportsmen who hunt together trade off between being the videographer and being the hunter. Good video cameras are less expensive today than they ever have been, besides being smaller, lighter and easier to use. Often today hunters don’t tell the stories of their hunts to friends and family but instead show the videos of their hunts. To provide this new breed of video hunters and shooters with the best information available, we’ve asked Ronnie Strickland to tell us how to avoid the most-common mistakes that most video hunters make, when they’re trying to film a hunt.
Most amateur videographers set-up their video cameras in the automatic-focus mode. In this setting, the videographer falsely believes that, “All I have to do is concentrate on the hunter and the animal to get great video.” They don’t want to have to manually adjust the focus ring on their camera just before the hunter takes the shot. However, you can’t set your camera on automatic focus and get good video. The camera doesn’t have a brain. Therefore, the camera doesn’t know that you are deer hunting. If your camera is set in automatic-focus mode, and you’re moving the camera as the deer is walking, there almost always will be a little branch or a limb that you don’t see, but is in the way. If this branch or limb is closer to the camera lens than the deer is, then the camera automatically focuses on the object that’s closest to it – the branch. The deer you’re hoping to video goes out of focus.
So, when you’re videoing a hunt, always set your camera up on manual focus. As a deer approaches, put your hand on the focus ring of the camera, while it’s on manual setting, and continue to adjust the focus ring to keep the animal in focus, as he comes toward you. When the hunter takes the shot, and the animal runs off, you can try to cheat by keeping that camera on automatic focus. But, I promise you. You will get caught with a blurry mess. When you have a trophy animal being taken by an excited hunter, don’t overlook this step. This one little tip can save a lot of fussing and fighting between the field producer and the hunter.