Hunting Film Tour shows great scenes

The 2013 Hunting Film Tour rolled through Dallas Wednesday night at the Angelika Theater, and I was on-hand to watch and critique the films shown.

So with beer in hand — not the worst way to watch hunting movies — I settled in with about 40 other people from the Dallas Safari Club’s Young Professional Group and other hunting brethren to watch the films.

I watch a lot of hunting shows and 99 percent of the time, I come away shaking my head at the chest pounding, in-your-face, testosterone fueled morons who think killing an animal requires a disrespectful song and dance once it is on the ground.

I was hoping for better from the various films being shown. I was mostly impressed.

Several of short films were very well done, showing the passion for the hunt and minimizing killing the animal. Bold cinematography drew the audience in, and if you didn’t feel the hunter’s passion after watching some of these segments, you were not a hunter to begin with.

The first film to stand out from the crowd was Into High Country, showing bowhunter Jason Matzinger as he hunted for one of the world’s toughest animals to harvest with a bow — a mountain goat.

Into High Country brought a family aspect to the film when Jason related the story of his dad’s mountain goat hunt, interspersed with thoughts about his own son. The hunting heritage often gets left out of 30-minute television shows. Jason has a heartbreaking miss in the film, but instead of showing the arrow flying over the goat, all the audience sees is Jason’s reaction to the shot. You can feel the pain. At the film’s conclusion, the exact opposite emotion is felt, although you never see a dead animal or an arrow hitting home. The emotions told the story — without ever seeing a dead animal. The film ends with a close-up shot of a knife cutting out the date on the goat tag; then the credits roll.

Next, Primal Dreams by Gene and Barry Wensel and the Mitten Brothers is visually stunning and respectful. These guys film all of the scenes themselves, with no cameraman or sponsors. What I enjoyed most were the small details in nature shown in the film that would never make it through editing for a TV show. Television guys should take notes on the beauty of a drop of dew falling from a single blade of grass or a squirrel eating pine nuts. It’s not all about the final outcome of a dead animal and a celebration.

A Giants Life follows five years in the life of a monster Canadian whitetail deer, as Dean Partridge chases this huge deer before finally connecting. This film shows the highs and lows of hunting one particular buck, even if Partridge seems to be a goofy Canuck, he sure worked hard to take a beautiful buck.

The Endless September shows several spectacular elk hunting scenes from guys who must have no life outside of hunting. Their passion is evident and the scenes of elk being called to within five yards is awesome. From the shaking arm of holding a bow at full draw waiting minutes for a shot to elk being so close the hunters could reach out and touch them, this film hit the mark for passionate bow hunters.

The Duck Factory showed scenes that would have never made it onto a television show, as well, like the scene from scouting from a combine that was harvesting corn to witnessing a duck tornado above the cornfields, this show captures some great footage. But, I didn’t like that they hunted over a pothole pond when they could have been hunting the “X” in the middle of the cornfields that opened the show. Also, I wanted to see mallards being harvested, not the mixed bag of ducks that were shot. Wait for the good ducks, guys. Shoot greenheads!

Several of the films missed the mark, in my opinion.

I felt as if I could have been watching TV in my living room when A Grizzly Adventure and Vapor Trailin’ Aoudad were shown.

When a bear running down a shoreline is suddenly presented as a life or death charge, I tend to shake my head and tune out. The aoudad hunt was long-range shooting, but had all of the hallmarks of a TV show.

I hope some of these films inspire more hunters to take a camera into the field. This event is a nice addition to my hunting lifestyle and I look forward to seeing what comes next.

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