Bow Hunting with Trail Cameras

November 29, 2011 by  

By Nick Simonson

I feel like Sauron from the Lord of the Rings trilogy; with my all-seeing eye looking out over the land – well at least 100 square feet of it. With my new trail camera set up overlooking the entrance to a watering area about 50 yards from my favorite bow hunting stand, this season has provided me with a new view of the deer in my hunting area and it seems I have the ability to know what is going on even when I can’t get out there. While many of you are experienced trail-camera scouts, for those like me who are just getting into it, reviewing each week’s set of photos has been about as big of a rush as watching a deer come in live.
Bow HuntingI purchased my trail camera shortly before the firearms deer season began, to get an idea of what was roaming the area when I wasn’t on stand. I settled on a Wildgame Innovations IR4, a four-megapixel camera with infrared capability which provides for clear photos both during the day and at night. It runs on eight AA batteries, but with a good number of rechargeable batteries I already had on hand, I was prepared for the power drain to come. The pictures are stored on a SD memory card, which is a prevalent storage device coming in 1, 2, 4, 8 and now 16 GB sizes, meaning that approximately 700 photos can be stored per gigabyte. I went with the 2GB card figuring that 1,400 photos would take some time to accumulate.
After the first week on the tree overlooking the waterhole entry path, my camera had taken 302 photos. While many of them were of wind-blown leaves and grasses moving in the target area, a sizeable number were of deer coming through, mostly at night. After three weeks, the camera had taken over 600 photos, and it began to reveal the patterns of the ungulates in the vicinity of my stand.
As anticipated, the does were the most active visitors to the camera’s viewing area, some coming up close and sniffing the lens and darting away, with others moving quickly in front of the lens. A few bucks showed themselves as well, and aside from one which was fairly blurry, most of the antlered deer were young ones with racks of six points or less. The number of male deer moving through was much higher than I anticipated, as there were two four pointers, a five pointer and a fairly wide and tall three-by-three along with a couple of spikes. The final picture of the month was the camera’s first capture of a daylight-hour buck with what appeared to be a large rack outside of his ears, but due to some last second furtive movements, his headgear was somewhat blurred.
In addition to the deer, I’ve seen turkeys, raccoons and an acrobatic squirrel moving through the now-familiar scene of saplings surrounding a crossroads of trails at the water’s edge. The camera has given me insight into these other creatures’ movements and what their daily patterns are like, and it’s good to know what else is going on. I watched the season’s first snow come, melt and go altogether as the post-frontal wind triggered a few shots on the sunny day after the initial storm. What I’ve learned thus far is pretty basic – that deer remain mostly nocturnal, but what I’ve observed has been nearly as enjoyable as an afternoon on stand. And thanks to this technology, I can keep an eye on what’s happening, even when I can’t get out there…in our outdoors.


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