Mick’s out in the woods with a cameraman - a star in the making?
Following on from my meeting with Paul at the Northern Shooting Show, we had loosely arranged to meet up for a morning’s squirrelling when he was going to be in my area, along with his camera and film guy, CJ. I know CJ from social media and we have spoken many times, but I had no idea that he was Paul’s media man, so it was quite a surprise to see him with Paul. CJ and I had only spoken the week before about meeting up and about our shooting activities, so this was a great day to break bread with two very professional people from our industry.
A seven o’clock meet had been arranged at my place, and the plan was to leave their truck and take mine with all the shooting gear and CJ’s filming equipment, too. It soon became apparent that more than a few snaps were required and CJ’s gear was going to need more room than I had available so we took both trucks. Paul had brought along the Aimcam Pro 2 and was hoping to get some promotional footage for both the Aimcam and the Northern Shooting Show.
As you know, I am a big fan of the NSS. I’ve attended the show since the start and have developed a great relationship with Paul and Richard, the organisers, so I was only too happy to help with anything that would not only promote the show, but also our sport and pastime in general. I am very committed to the technology side of our sport, so the Aimcan also intrigued me immensely.
Primarily used as a coaching aid for shotgunners, the Aimcam is also very useful to pistol users, and for recording your day out – not just for shooting, but most sports and pastimes. The quality of the glasses is top shelf, you hardly notice you’re wearing them, and with a one-touch recording facility and wi-fi link to your phone, you have everything covered recording-wise.
My one concern was if I’d be able to see over or under the scope’s sidewheel to get a view downrange, and this concern became a reality as soon as I checked out the video streamed to CJ’s phone. However, I have an idea for how to overcome this, and I’ve spoken to James at Aimcam about it. He is looking forward to my feedback, so this lovely piece of kit should prove to be more than a one-trick pony.
The kit itself comprises; the glasses frame with four sets of lenses – yellow, dark, purple and clear – a cleaning cloth and micro USB cable for charging and downloading. Additional lenses and power packs are also available. The Pro 2 I had was in a camo finish, but other finishes are available. There is also a small torx screwdriver, lanyard and instructions, along with a few stickers which I have already claimed – like stickers, I do.
Power, record and wi-fi are all easily reached on the left arm of the glasses, and the camera lens is simply adjusted to point wherever you want to be looking, and all recordings and images can be viewed on your device be it phone, PC, laptop or tablet. I am thinking about trying them out as a replacement for my dash cam and they would be a great asset for recording situations where conflict or hearsay might need to be proved. The list is endless, and at under £250 could well be a worthwhile purchase.
KNOW YOUR LAND
So, back to the hunt. Once we had spoken to Mick, the keeper, about where we would be filming and assured him that our approach and respect for the game birds were of the utmost importance, we entered the woods. Immediately, we saw a couple of skinnies chasing round the beech trees, and along with the ever-present buzzards soaring the thermals way above, I could feel a good day in front of us. I had been and prepped the feeders with peanut mix and the trail cams had told me that they were indeed drawing the attention of the skinnies away from the natural
feed of the beech trees.
I had an idea of how we needed to be set up with the cameras and had gone to the trouble of getting enough area cleared to accommodate the three of us in my hide. The .25 Impact was in for a long overdue service, so I decided to take the FAC Wildcat/Airmax, along with the sub-12 Impact/Sidewinder, in case anyone wanted to try out one of these superb combos. I was sure they wouldn’t be able to resist.
Once settled in and with cameras ready to roll I told my guests to ‘give it 20 minutes and they’ll come – they always come!’ You know what? I was spot on, and with 20 minutes gone the first skinny showed and exactly where I said it would come from, up the bank from the left. Knowing your land and the habits of your quarry will make your job much easier and gives you the advantage you need. It’s known as PPPPPP – you’ll have to work that out yourselves. The skinny was taken whilst feeding on the peanuts, and was left out rather than collected because we didn’t want to spook the rest of them.
Having three sets of eyes really shows how much you can miss around you. I was using my thermal to spot them coming from way out, to be ready for their arrival, but both Paul and CJ were just scanning the treetops for movement and the constant, “One there,” and “One coming down,” had me in a spin, but between us we managed to clear up most of what we saw, and CJ even managed to get a cracking recording of me weaving an Air Arms 18 grain Diablo straight into the skull of a sunbathing skinny through the leaves and branches at around 55 yards. I even got a “Great shot!” from him, which from a top shooter is praise indeed. Both my guests had a crack with the FXs. They were suitably impressed, and along with a few tips, I’m sure they’ll be nailing the tree rats on their own land very shortly.
“We returned to the first wood and pretty much did take after take”
Lunchtime arrived and we retired to the local pub, to whom I give most of my quarry, which goes into many of the meals on the menu, including the excellent game pie and various curried dishes for which we opted. We discussed the approach for the afternoon and generally chatted about our own chosen shooting disciplines. It is always a pleasure to chat with shooters, and even more so when the people are so professional and passionate about their work. Paul is very laid back, but so passionate and dedicated about the Northern Shooting Show that you can almost see it oozing from his pores, and CJ is the very same about his part, and his professionalism also pours from him.
Now, this is where we have the ‘It’ll be all right on the night’ scenario. Paul had lost his newly purchased spectacles and no matter how hard we searched we couldn’t find them, and then whilst checking out another area for some picturesque footage, CJ’s camera managed to fall into the stream, with disastrous results. The lens was full of water, and the impact had caused the lens cover to lock into place … silence reigned, and my heart sank as I looked at CJ, and I knew they needed time to pull it together and regroup.
I hung around the wood, hoping to pick off another skinny while my guests returned to the truck to try to sort out the camera and a back-up plan. I gave it 20 minutes and returned to the truck, hoping that an extra squirrel I’d nailed from another feeder was enough to lift the mood a little. I needn’t have worried and like the true pros they were, the camera had been dried, although it wasn’t usable, and a back-up plan had been hatched.
We returned to the first wood and pretty much did take after take, getting some very usable footage with the back-up camera, and we even managed to take a few more of the grey menace out of the game.
Working between two feeders, I took the lead and when in place, I called them on and CJ managed to capture some great footage. We ended up with seven skinnies, which is only a fraction of what would be around, but taking into account there were three of us squeezed into a hide trying to keep still and quiet – apart from the sneezing and coughing fit ... Paul, I’m looking at you – we did okay. In fact, we did more than okay – we did great! The Wildcat/Airmax and the Impact/ Sidewinder combos worked their usual magic.
The end of the day came all too quickly and I was left the Aimcam to review and field test. I’m sure we can get the view downrange sorted and by next month, I hope, a much anticipated package from Sweden will have arrived and I’ll be playing with something very special. Until then, adios amigos I
Hunting with a top guy like Paul was always going to be enjoyable, and the filming only added to that.
Take Aim-cam ... fire!
Trail cam for PPPPPP.
Seven in the bag, but it could have been many more.
Never without the thermal.
We did OK, ... considering.