Sitka Films ’25 Horse’ Interview
25 Horse pays tribute to those hunters willing to get after the rugged timber in hopes of a stack of green by the end of the morning.
We jumped at the chance to talk with the team who worked to produce this epic film focused on timber duck hunting. The quality of this film drew us in and timber duck hunting is now on our bucket list and we think it will absolutely be on your bucket list as soon as you see this film.
We wanted to know a little more so we threw out questions to the team.
How did this film come about?
BEN POTTER, CANA Outdoors “25 Horse” was the second title we were forced to give our film. “Boat Race” was the first. For me it started while shooting “Dr Duck” in 2014 when one of their crew showed me a YouTube video of the Bayou Meto famous boat races. I couldn’t believe what I saw. Hundreds of boats stacked in a slough ready to do anything to get the hole. I was amazed and knew there was a story there to tell. Fast forward a year, the story was confirmed when one of the dudes from Sitka marketing brought up the idea and asked if I’d ever heard of the Arkansas boat races? It was meant to be and we started planning for the coming season’s film. As a film maker I was licking my chops to get after this famous race. A few months before the season kicked off Arkansas’ officials announced all boat racing is now illegal and there will be hefty fines for those who would participate in the activity. Our film planning and boat race dreams were crushed. Now as many do know, the boat races were very dangerous. Devout duck hunters, caffeine hyped for opening day, racing through the woods at speeds up to 50mph with their molded boats made for a deadly ride. Sadly some folks were killed in the races leading to the need to outlaw the activity. Yea we were bummed not to experience it for ourselves, but know the FWP made a decision for the safety of us all and we appreciate that greatly.
So we shifted gears on our story slightly but stayed steady to capture the timber and the epic ride it gives every hunter who gets after it. Following Dennis Loosier, Billy Cambel, and Blake Fisher (the entertainment), we met up with their good buddy Bubba Snider of Arkansas. We prayed for rain, but as Jim Ronquest (Jimbo) of RNT told me, “the good Lord gave us a bit too much”. High water levels with warm temps made for a tough season. The truth is the conditions are never really right for us duck hunters, but the season gave us a hand full of moments we are proud to share with you this season.
25 Horse pays tribute to those hunters willing to get after the rugged timber in hopes of a stack of green by the end of the morning. I have gown a deep respect for these hunters as the timber is one of the most unforgiving waterfowl environments a duck hunter can enter. It brings out the true and un hindered passion of us duck hunters to the fullest. We salute you all and hope you enjoy the film!
BEN POTTER, CANA Outdoors
How is filming waterfowl different?
BEN POTTER, CANA Outdoors – Our company has started our outdoor productions capturing waterfowl, so it runs deep in our blood. We have a love for all things hunting and fishing, but waterfowl presents a unpredictable challenge in getting the ducks to give you that 3-5 seconds of gold. Its the cupped up, all in commitment that we duck hunters dream about. Its one thing to see them drop in a hole and its a whole other thing to capture it. When your waist deep with a 40k dollar camera in your hands, your mind is racing to say the least. Like any outdoor filming keeping focused and calm when the moment comes together is clutch for the film. In the Arkansas timber you dream of the 50-100 filling up your timber hole. This never quite happened for us, but we did see a few incredible moments of bunches dropping hundreds of feet within moments. You hug the trees, film from the shadows, and take carful steps wadding through the water. Compared to most big game, waterfowl seems to force you on your toes about every moment. You may watch a big game animal for hours through glass, plan your stalk and execute. Waterfowl doesnt always give you that luxury. We had many slow depression days, and a handful of moments we will never forget.
What was it about this story that really excited you?
BEN POTTER, CANA Outdoors – Initially learning about the boat races that took place in the timber on opening morning blew my mind. Hundreds of boats racing thought flooded timber at 4 am is a sight like nothing else. Several months before setting out to capture this, the boat races were outlawed. For very good reasons, but it changed our approach to the film a bit. A few lives were lost in the previous seasons’ boat races and it made for a very dangerous morning for duck hunters. Though we were caught off guard with the new regulation we saw it for the best. Regardless the intensity we experienced in the early morning boat races made for a fantastic capture. It’s hard to pin point one thing that made this film exciting to create. I think it’s the timber hunter. I’ve grown up around waterfowl my whole life, but never experienced a duck hunter like this. They are a breed of their own and face some of the toughest elements a duck hunt can see. It’s a place you’re just not meant to be, but they go to the extreme lengths to find that duck hole that delivers a hunt like nothing else. This is what we live for at www.canaoutdoors.com.
What was it like being filmed for this movie?
Hunters Billy Campbell and Dennis Loosier – Outstanding. The only way to describe our experience with Cana outdoors for the shooting of 25 Horse is absolutely outstanding. We are thankful to have had the privilege to work with Cana on several projects now and are always impressed by the high level of competence, attention to detail and overall project management. Depending on the situation, sometimes taking large groups or adding inexperienced hunters can be difficult. These guys are outdoor enthusiasts and hunters. They know how and when to move, filming us in our element while blending in and not negatively impacting our results or requiring any special attention to attain their goals and provide a completed project that always exceeds expectations. We are thankful for Cana Outdoors and their ability to share our passion and a different perspective of hunting waterfowl.
What separates Marsh from Timber Duck Hunters?
Ryan Bassham, Sitka Gear – When it comes to Waterfowl hunters the game is always changing. Many factors have to be considered upon an impending hunt. Of the four major flyways that Waterfowl migrate a hunter can find different challenges from region to region. Depending on the time of the migration and the area in which the fowl are inhabiting different behaviors regarding feeding, courting, breeding, and reverse migration preparation can effect the decisions a Waterfowl hunter needs to make. Whether hunting fields or water this holds true. But because of all of these reasons we find many differences from hunter to hunter.
Timber hunters are a unique group of hunters more commonly found in the southern Mississippi and Central flyways. The necessity of more durable gear to complete the task is of higher importance. Getting deep in to the backwater through the timber can prove difficult as limbs nag at every turn and submerged timber threatens to delay or possibly end a hunt before it ever gets started. But for those that press forward and put in the time to scout their green dreams are rewarded with scores of mallards piling in through the trees.
Those that take to the marsh have to have a variety of different hunting tactics and ready to execute them at a moments notice. While hunting big open water and marshes the variety of Waterfowl species is greater than that of timber hunters. Often large decoy spreads are deployed in order achieve success. For the marsh hunter it is imperative to be versatile in their hunting tactics and persistent to the task.
What drove Sitka Gear to create and work on the film ’25 Horse’?
Ryan Bassham, Sitka Gear – There are two type of duck hunters. Those that have experienced hunting mallards in the timber, and those that want to but have not yet done so. Almost all duck hunters have some sort of fascination with this type of hunt. With the addition of our new Optifade Timber pattern and timber hunting specific products it was only fitting to do such a film. We believe we now have a product line of gear that allows timber hunters to stay out longer and more comfortably. And for those who have not yet experienced this type of hunt for themselves we hope to inspire them to do so
What are we going to see new in Waterfowl Gear for 2017?
Ryan Bassham, Sitka Gear – For 2017 we are excited to extend the Timber product line and provide more options to those taking to the flooded woods and other areas where this diverse new camo can be applied. Additionally, we are rounding out our existing hunt systems that will allow hunters to more easily build their own systems specific to their unique hunting styles and locales.
What makes this line of gear better?
Ryan Bassham, Sitka Gear – Waterfowl hunters are notoriously hard on their gear. Decisions must to be made in the moment. And when simply trying to complete the hunt their gear becomes susceptible to the rigors of being exposed to some of mother natures worst. When most take to cover in harsh weather environments Waterfowl hunters are trying to determine the best plan for action to weather the storm and put another bird on the strap. That’s where Sitka Gear steps in. With only the best developed by GORE Technologies Sitka has developed the perfect intuitive gear that any Waterfowl hunter can appreciate. We aim to keep hunter out longer, drier, and with less bulk.
Go See the full Film at SitkaGear.com