Anyone that has filmed a hunt knows that good chemistry between the cameraman and hunter is an absolute must. Luckily for Predator Quest‘s Les Johnson, he has a lifetime of chemistry with his cameraman. It’s his brother, Jeff Johnson.
“I like to just stay out of the way,” Jeff explained.
Typically, “out of the way” is behind Les and slightly uphill, where Jeff can get a good vantage point without taking away any shot opportunities.
The wind also plays into the equation.
“If the wind is blowing from the left to the right, I like to sit to the left because the coyotes will naturally go to the right,” Jeff said.
Unlike most outdoors cameramen, Jeff doesn’t film with a tripod. Shooting freehand allows him to blend in better with the terrain and be more flexible with the camera. While he sacrifices some stability, he’s able to film coyotes he would almost certainly miss if his camera was mounted to a tripod.
“You can lay on your belly. You can get on your knee,” Jeff said. “If (the coyote) goes behind a hill, many times, I have to get up. I set up wrong. A lot of times, I’ll have to get on my knees because a coyote goes over here and it’s just out of my range and I have to sit up just enough to get it. It might not be the best, but you’ve got it.”
Above all else, Jeff said it’s important to remember you don’t become a good cameraman overnight. It takes a lot of practice and a lot of mistakes.
“Never get discouraged,” Jeff said. “There’s always another coyote. There’s always another kill of a deer.
“Don’t worry about the little things and the camera shake. Try to get the best shot on the animal as you can. That’s what I focus on. I don’t worry about any other thing than that until afterwards.”
I was lucky enough to hunt alongside Jeff and Les in the Sandhills of Nebraska earlier this year. Make sure to read the August issue of Trapper & Predator Caller for 10 crucial tips for hunting predators from Les. The issue hits newsstands in late July.
To view some unbelievable outdoor video footage, pick up a copy of Tom Miranda’s Adventure Bowhunter DVD set. The archery expert travels across North America in pursuit of the archery “Super Slam” and gets every kill on film. It took Miranda 13 years to complete the 29-species “Super Slam.” Now you can watch him do it in just 320 minutes in this heart-pounding series.