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Filming in the Great Outdoors-Tom Lounsbury

Tom Lounsbury

Sun, 12 Jan 2014 07:11:49 EST


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Filming in the Great Outdoors
By Tom Lounsbury

I will never forget the first time I had an opportunity to be in an outdoor show for television. I had been contacted because I was one of the few hunters that still pursued wild pheasants in Michigan’s Thumb area. This occurred almost 30 years ago and the camera used in those days to film our hunt wasn’t small by any means and had to be held continually on the shoulder and came with a battery pack hanging from the cameraman’s belt. It was quite a load to cart around through chest-high grass and brush covering some hilly terrain. The cameraman/show host however was well up to the task and really impressed me with his ability and attitude in the field and we have been good friends ever since.
The hunt occurred on the opening morning of pheasant season in the Thumb and we experienced one of those rare October snowstorms that blanketed the terrain with four inches of the heavy wet stuff. As soon as shooting light arrived I turned my dogs and hunting guests loose in an organized line across the cover. However it wasn’t “filming-light” as yet and I promised the cameraman/show host that he would have plenty of filming opportunities and that at that moment my main goal was to move our group to the east side of the field and turn back with the west wind working in favor of my hunting dogs.
I also assured him that the only pheasants we would put up while crossing to the east side were ones we literally stepped on because all the birds were totally covered up with snow in their roosting spots in the tall grass. They were quite cozy and pretty scent-free at that point, and knowing pheasants, I was pretty sure they wouldn’t be in a rush that morning to kick loose and greet a new day.
I was in the center of the line to work my dogs for the group and the cameraman/show host was slightly behind me and keeping pace while hoping for better light in order to begin filming. To this day, I have mixed emotions about the camera not rolling during what suddenly transpired. A part of me is somewhat relieved, but yet it would have been a very unique situation to have recorded on film.
The rooster was facing due west under the snow, and I was wading away due east through the cover when my right foot coming up to join my left foot rudely swept the rooster out of his comfortable bed, and he came cackling straight up in and explosion of snow and hit me square in the undercarriage. This in turn doubled me over, which in turn blocked the upward avenue of escape and the panicked rooster’s cackling had turned into chicken-like squawks, and as I straightened back up the bird began to wing-flap and claw his way up the front of my canvas coat.
When this occurred I was holding my single-shot H&R 12 ga shotgun in my right hand and I had a buckskin mitten on my left hand, and I did try to grab the rooster, but mittens (especially one-handed) don’t offer much traction in holding onto snow covered and wing-flapping pheasants. When that failed I tried to hug the squirming bird into my chest with my left arm, but he clawed and pecked his way right through and we were suddenly beak to nose and I will always remember his wide amber eyes glaring at me out of the bright red wattles on his head. That is when he wing-flapped each side of my face and shoved off, performed an aerobatic barrel-roll and flew straight away.
It was an easy shot and I automatically shouldered my shotgun and drew a bead on the departing rooster. Needless to say the entire episode must have rattled me a bit, because instead of cocking my shotgun, I pressed down on the ejector button located next to the hammer. I will never forget hearing the click of my shotgun breaking open (instead of a discharging blast) and the bright red unfired Winchester shell being ejected and sailing past my right ear. The rooster flew away totally unscathed with no shots being fired, because the other hunters closest to me who could have taken a shot were laughing too hard to shoulder their shotguns.
Yep. That sure could have been some interesting footage if the light had been right for filming. Needless to say I have been a tad camera shy ever since.
I recently met a couple of Thumb area residents that are venturing into the outdoor filming market. In fact their first outdoor television shows will begin airing nationally on the Sportsman Channel in January. Steve Noble and Chris Garza have real jobs and families, but are taking the leap into the challenging field of outdoor filming to share their love of the outdoors and the adventures they experience with a viewing audience.
The show is called “Maximum Outdoors” and they plan on covering everything outdoors, including a focus on family involvement. Noble and Garza have teamed up with fellow Prostaff Members Chris “Chico” Lopez and Jonathon Reames to do it all including a wide variety hunting, fishing, camping and you name it. They do have their challenges ahead, which still includes having the proper light conditions when the action starts and the camera is rolling. Technology has made for lighter weight and more compact cameras today, but you still need the proper light. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing the shows and I wish these young men well.
I’ve already advised them to look out for rooster pheasants under the snow.

click on the picture to enlarge

Thumb area residents Steve Noble and Chris Garza are part of the four-man
Prostaff team of Maximum Outdoors that began recently airing on the
Sportsman Channel.

Photo compliments of Maximum Outdoors.



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