How We Really Feel About Our Cameramen…

I just went back and re-read this blog from June of last year. If you missed it, it sheds some light on the driving force behind our industry. The unspoken praise and often under appreciated persona of the cinematographer….

Julie McQueen...

Having cameras around nonstop was difficult to get used to. We rarely have any privacy, even when we’re not on the road. But I think of it as an alternative to keeping a journal. All of our adventures over the years have been carefully and skillfully documented on camera, and it’s nice to go back and look at how far we’ve come. 

The guys behind the cameras are often forgotten, in spite of the fact that they are the ones who bring the entire thing together. Without our beloved cinematographers we would be working overtime to get the job done. And the finished product would have lost it’s luster without the talents of the creative people behind the lens. 

Both Daniel Lee and I actually work behind the cameras quite often, but hosting a show requires that we spend the majority of our time in front of the lens instead of behind it…

View original post 438 more words

Packing Without Panicking : How We Prepare for Months Long Roadtrips

Checking the weather a week before a trip is a good idea if you want to pack the essential items. But checking the weather two months out is about as useful as not checking it at all.

Unlike many people, we have to plan for 4 or 5 back-to-back trips at a time. We schedule everything perfectly so that when one hunt is ending we can drive to the next location and begin filming for the next episode. Packing all of the gear that we need, as well as items that we need for different types of hunting, is crucial. Different types of camo, alternative boots for different terrain, every size of backpack known to man, and of course our monstrous hat collection must all find their way into our production trailer.

And I haven’t even started talking about the production gear. Cameras (usually 5 or 6 main cameras), tripods, sliders, jibs, drones, batteries, charging stations, and lenses must all be cleaned and organized at all times. We don’t just bring one tripod, we bring every size of tripod that Vanguard makes!

So, how do we do it? The secret is that we live it every day, even when we’re not on the road. My dining room table has a minimum of 3 cameras on it at all times. They are constantly being used, cleaned, and charged. Because they are always in plain sight, we won’t forget them when we’re packing. We have a system that works. Every piece of gear has it’s place. We check and double check that everything is clean, accessible, and in working order before we hit the road to film. That, in itself, is a full time job.

Our camo stays organized in different bags. One bag for lightweight clothing, one for base layers, and one for the heavy stuff. All of the bags have to go along with us on each trip. Going from the warm west to the freezing north wouldn’t be much fun if I only brought one of those bags. I usually put the really heavy camo in a big plastic tub for scent control, and that also makes it easier to pack other heavy items on top of it while we’re traveling.

Boots? All boots must also accompany us on these adventures. Sure, we have our favorites, but my muck boots need to be there if we get 5 inches of rain. My hiking boots better be there when we’re hiking the mountains, and we wouldn’t want to mix that up and only have one or the other when we’ve got extreme hunting conditions at every turn.

When we are on the road for weeks or months we stay in our 5th wheel toy hauler trailer. It’s 44ft long, and provides us with some of the comforts of home. I bring our Keurig coffee maker and I fill the freezer with wild game. We bring our Camp Chef oven and a bunch of cast iron pieces for cooking at campgrounds. When we say we’re “camping out” around the country, it’s really not that rough!

When we are at our actual home in Tennessee I try to keep things neat and organized. Unfortunately, that’s nearly impossible when we live this life. Camo everywhere, cameras everywhere, and months of backed up laundry is typical. It’s chaos at it’s very best. And I don’t mind if my dining room looks like Campbell’s Cameras just had an open house. We’ve chosen this hectic life, and that’s the key to success in a job like ours. You live it every day. Even when you could potentially take the day off, you choose not to.

Healthy Choices – How To Stay Healthy In Hunting Camp

Some of the best meals I’ve had have taken place at hunting camp. I’m usually the only girl in camp, and I don’t like to make special requests when the guys are deciding what we’ll have for dinner. This means that I have to plan ahead and make healthy decisions regularly so that I don’t resent the camp cook by the end of the hunt.

Because my work schedule with our television show requires that I’m on the road filming and hunting for around 200+ days out of the year, I’ve found some ways to stay fit and healthy in a world where exercise and diet can be the last things on our minds.

Everyday Fitness:

Social media has been great for my meal planning and fitness on the road. I follow healthy accounts on Instagram and I take their advice on how to plan my meals and stay fit. Just a little bit of daily inspiration can go a long way. One of my favorite fitness accounts is Sarah Bowmar on Instagram. (@sarah_bowmar) She is an accomplished bow hunter, and she inspires me and thousands of others with fitness advice and stories of her personal accomplishments. Accounts like hers will give you advice on diet, exercise, and some also offer personal training services.

Meal Prep:

If I know that I have a 2 day road trip coming up and I’ll be in a hunting camp for 4 solid days, then I plan ahead and decide how many days I’d like to stick to my diet. Road trip days are easy for me; I pack my food in Tupperware containers and when we stop along the route I resist the urge to have fast food. I take a cooler with containers of hard boiled eggs, grilled chicken, and sometimes pre-baked sweet potatoes. I also carry small bags of almonds and healthy snacks, and I slice a cucumber to add to my water. All of these things work for me because they are things I enjoy eating.. Planning ahead like this makes my road trip days healthier and a lot less expensive.

When in camp, don’t make the cook mad!

I eat camp food. I don’t want anyone to think that I’m so uptight that I bring my own food and don’t enjoy the foods that are prepared for me. My general rule is “Everything in Moderation”. If the cook makes fried chicken and mashed potatoes for dinner, you can bet that I’ll have some. Not a lot, but I’ll try a little bit of everything. Nobody ever gets their feelings hurt if I have extra salad, a piece of fruit, or even if I bring a little side dish of something healthy to the table. I know that if I overindulge my body will begin to have a difficult time digesting and I’ll feel sluggish for days. With my job description, I can’t feel sluggish and get away with it.

 

Eat often and move around.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Six small meals a day”. This doesn’t always work with my schedule, but I do try to snack throughout the day. If I’m in the field filming I’ve always got food in my backpack. I love Laura Bars and Cliff Bars, and small bags of raw almonds are my go-to protein choice. Sometimes I’ll pack a can of chicken and some hot sauce to mix in with it. (Just don’t forget the can opener!) While everyone is glassing, resting, or chatting I’m usually noshing on some protein to keep my energy level up. I’ve also learned to pack a little extra so I can share. There’s nothing worse than grumpy hunters because they all forgot to pack food!

We move around so much during a typical day in the field that we end up burning most of our calories off quickly. For hunts where we hike a lot, or when we are in high altitude, I pack extra calories in my bag. When we will be sitting still all day, like whitetail hunts, I pack light snacks that will keep me from getting so hungry that I’ll settle for anything later. My goal is to feed my body what it needs to function at it’s highest level, and the things that my body requires may be different from someone else. Do what makes you feel good, and the rest will fall into place.

To drink or not to drink?..

Anyone who has spent time with me in hunting camp will know that I enjoy having a drink now and then. If I were trying to lose weight, the alcohol would be the first thing to go from my diet. The added calories are completely unnecessary for your body, and it basically turns to sugar in your system as soon as you absorb it. However, in moderation it’s possible to enjoy a libation now and then and keep your health in check.

My personal strategy is to trade something for my drink. If I want a drink with dinner, then I’ll forgo the carbohydrates (potatoes, bread, rice…) and I’ll have wine instead. This strategy works for me, but I do have my days where I’ll enjoy every option on the table, along with my wine. As I’ve said before, life is just too short to deprive ourselves of what we enjoy.

Write it down and do what works for you.

With technology today it’s easy to research options and creative ideas for staying healthy. If you want to develop a meal plan based around foods that you enjoy, do some research and find out what you need in your diet. Or hire an online coach (again, Sarah Bowmar offers that). Write down your goals, write down what you eat and drink, and then take a step back and be honest with yourself about how you feel. Are you feeling tired? Do you have energy? How are you sleeping? Your body will generally tell you when you’re doing something right or wrong, you just have to learn to listen to it. I like to write everything down so that I don’t get a selective memory when I consider what I’ve eaten or consumed. One of my other time saving strategies is to take a photo of everything I eat during the day (even the small stuff!) and then look through it each night to see what changes I need to make. You’ll begin to see a pattern, and by looking at your patterns you can make small changes that will add up to big improvements.

These strategies work for me, but I’m constantly changing my own rules. Following a healthy lifestyle is crucial to longevity in life and success in the field. If you have comments or advice of your own please feel free to share it with us in the comments, and follow me on Instagram for daily updates and to see if I’m following my own advice!

Instagram:

@julesmcqueen

7 Things That Outdoorsmen Have Done Right In Getting Women Outdoors

It takes positive reinforcement to create a lasting relationship. I recently read a blog that reflected negatively on men in general and the way a few have tried to introduce women to the outdoors. I want to put a positive spin on the same topic. Below I’ll share what is being done correctly within our culture of hunting and spending time outdoors. It’s a topic that I know well, as I spend the majority of my life in and around hunting camps where I am surrounded primarily by outdoorsmen.

  1. They still give us their jacket when it’s cold.

I can’t tell you the last time I’ve been on a hunt in cold weather when a colleague, or my husband, hasn’t offered me an outer layer. Sure, I have my own heavy layers, but I still tend to get cold faster than the guys. Chivalry isn’t dead. These outdoorsmen  always step up and ask if I’m warm enough, offer me a jacket, and even start the truck early so it’s toasty for me when we get in from the cold.

  1. Giving us some space to call our own.

I rarely feel crowded by the men in hunting camp. If I’m loading my gun, they don’t hover to see if I’m doing it correctly. If I ask for help, they are happy to oblige. I’m always given the same privileges as the men, and that includes a level of mutual respect. Don’t be afraid to ask for a helping hand if you don’t feel comfortable, but you shouldn’t feel obligated to have them load your gun just because they think you can’t handle it. Communicate with the guys about your skill level, and you’ll have a great experience more often.

  1. It’s Not Just A Mans Camp Anymore.

Lady-friendly amenities have become relatively normal in most hunting camps. Depending on where and what you’re hunting, some camps will be nicer than others, but it’s not unusual to find a restroom set aside just for us girls in most camps. Even if it’s just for the week that you’re on site, as least you don’t have to share everything. Overall, I think that adding ladies to hunting camps around the world has brought some civilization and class to the usually rough natured atmosphere, and we should be grateful to the men who make it possible. I’m thankful for the kindness that’s been shown to me over the years.

  1. Confidence is Key.

Nothing looks as good as confidence does on a woman. Through social media I see men are showering praise on woman hunters for being a part of the tradition, and that is giving us more confidence in the field. Some of us will wake up at 4 a.m. to head into the woods with no makeup and messy hair – and knowing that we are respected for our strength and abilities instead of our makeup job is critical to our confidence. Conversely, some of us like to wake up 10 minutes earlier to put on a dab of makeup and we invest in well-fitting camouflage because that’s what makes us happy, and we still get the ultimate confidence when we are respected in the field for a good shot or a stalk well done.

It doesn’t matter if we wear makeup or not. It doesn’t matter if we style our hair or go with it messy. The only thing that matters is that we are out there enjoying those moments in the outdoors, and that we feel confident about it. Be sure to thank the outdoorsman in your life for boosting your confidence when he does. This goes back to that beginning statement I made about positive reinforcement.

  1. Helping Us Practice.

Let’s face it, many men want their woman to participate in hunting sports because it will give him more time in the field, and more time overall with his girl. I’ve noticed a surge in the number of men who take their lady shooting, whether it’s skeet, archery or to the range. When a couple decides to practice shooting together they begin to form a new kind of bond. Beginners might feel discouraged if they miss a shot or don’t see improvement quickly, but in my experience a true outdoorsman will work patiently with his lady to ensure that she is safe and happy during practice time. A little instruction now and then is good if she is a beginner, but give her some space to grow on her own also.

  1. Public affirmation of her success.

Rarely does a day go by when I am scrolling through social media and I don’t see a photo posted by an outdoorsman of his girl with some kind of trophy. Maybe she’s just in camouflage, or maybe she hit her first limit of ducks. No matter what the description is below the photo, I’m happy to see that many men are publicly praising their ladies for getting outdoors and working on their skills in the field. The outdoorsmen of today have created a culture of appreciation and affection towards women in the outdoors that is unparalleled.

  1. The Most Valuable Gift Of All.

So far we’ve covered everything from giving her your jacket, giving her confidence, social media praise, and even giving her the better bathroom in camp. That leaves us with a very important final gift that doesn’t cost anything, but one she’ll never forget – the gift of time. Time spent outdoors together is more valuable than anything else. If you’re sitting in a treestand together, filming each other’s hunts, or even learning new skills together as a team, these are the moments that you’ll reflect back on in the years to come. So be sure to thank your outdoorsman for taking time to sit with you, to help you clean your first deer, or even just when he loans you his jacket because he saw you shivering in the cold.

There are exceptions to everything, of course, but overall I believe our outdoorsmen today have stepped up and made us proud to be their counterparts. We outdoorswomen shouldn’t bash the men out there just because a few have made mistakes along the way. We wouldn’t want a man to write an article about all of the things we’re doing wrong, would we? So let’s celebrate the fact that we live in a place where we can spend time together in the woods, we can harvest our game legally, and we can continue this important heritage of just being outside together and enjoying nature.

When Hunters Attack Hunters

Until recently I’ve only been defending myself against anti hunters and people who don’t appreciate our hunting culture. I’ve been bullied and threatened, and they stop at nothing to bring negative energy into my world. The antis have even threatened to kill my dogs. I can defend myself against people who don’t agree with my lifestyle, and I even understand their point of view most of the time. It still stings a little when I read some of the things they say, but that’s a part of my world now.

The moments that hurt the most is when a hunter, conservationist, or pro-hunting personality does the same thing that anti-hunters are doing to us. It’s an inside job. It’s sad. And it happens more than what you might expect.

Recently a very popular television show host wrote a blog post that has gained some momentum. He specifically mentions “sex-pot huntresses” and how they aren’t doing enough to be a positive role model for future generations. He is worried that these attractive women in the hunting industry might be focusing too much on their looks instead of being outdoorsy and well educated in the world of hunting and providing food for their families.

Typically, I wouldn’t take direct offense to a blog that someone posted if it didn’t include my name or my photo (which his does not). We are all entitled to have our opinions. This person is directly insulting the female hunters who focus on their physical appearance. He specifically mentions fake tans, counterfeit breasts, and changing hairstyles. I have all of those things, and I don’t feel good about being judged for it by somebody who should be on the same team as me. Why does his opinion matter when it comes to my physical appearance or how much time I devote to it? He is influential to some of the same fan base that looks up to me. When he says these things about women in the outdoors he is directly shaming those of us who enjoy taking care of our bodies, spray tan and all. That is the reason why his blog stood out to me. Public shaming.

I responded to his blog. I took my time and wrote a letter to him about how he made me feel.  I’m still looking over it and making sure that this is a battle that I’m willing to fight. So far I have not made my response public, and I’m not sure yet that I ever will.

Keep in mind that if this person was an anti-hunter, or if he simply didn’t understand our culture, then I would let it pass by like water under the bridge. But he is respected in our industry, which makes his words sting even more.

The lessons to learn here are that we all live in glass houses. What we say might hurt someone who hasn’t done anything wrong. And don’t send an email or post something to the public until you’re positive that you won’t want to eat those words later.