Can­did cam­era

Trail pho­tog­ra­phy an ex­cel­lent re­source

The Citizens' Voice - - WILDLIFE - By TyLER FRANTZ COR­RE­SPON­DENT Con­tact the writer: wildlife@ timessham­rock.com

Find­ing an evening to hunt af­ter work one clear Oc­to­ber day, a busy Penn­syl­va­nia bowhunter drove 40 min­utes to his fa­vorite hunt­ing prop­erty.

Since no shoot­ers had shown them­selves dur­ing pre­vi­ous out­ings in this par­tic­u­lar area, the hunter had his mind set on try­ing a new stand site a cou­ple hun­dred yards be­low his nor­mal hunt­ing lo­ca­tion.

On his way to the creek-bot­tom stand he in­tended for the hunt that evening, he swung by a dif­fer­ent stand he had re­cently sat in three times with no suc­cess. He had a trail cam­era hang­ing over a mock scrape he made there and wanted to check if any­thing worth­while passed through in the days since he last hunted at the stand.

Scrolling back­ward through the trail cam­era’s viewfinder re­vealed a qual­ity buck work­ing the scrape in broad day­light around 5 p.m. just a few days ear­lier.

With this fresh in­tel, the bowhunter aban­doned his orig­i­nal plans to hunt the creek bot­tom, doctored up the mock scrape with fresh scent and hur­ried up a set of climbing sticks within eye­sight of the trail cam­era that gave him all the con­fi­dence he needed.

As the sun be­gan to dip through the tree­tops, the hefty buck who proved him­self pho­to­genic ear­lier that week ma­te­ri­al­ized from the ridge be­hind the hunter’s stand. It made a scrape be­neath a hem­lock, non­cha­lantly am­bled into bow range and paused to slurp an acorn from the for­est floor.

Seiz­ing the mo­ment, the hunter’s ar­row hit its mark and an­other Penn­syl­va­nia buck tag was filled as a re­sult of trail cam­era in­sight.

For those who have failed to guess it, I was that hunter and the story ex­plains how a split-se­cond de­ci­sion made the dif­fer­ence be­tween tak­ing a buck that evening or sit­ting in a dif­fer­ent stand with an un­de­ter­mined out­come. The key player, though, was the trail cam­era and the images it held, which ul­ti­mately so­lid­i­fied the thought­ful ra­tio­nale for hunt­ing that par­tic­u­lar lo­ca­tion over an­other.

Trail cam­eras, when used prop­erly, can pro­vide deer hunters with a wealth of in­for­ma­tion.

Dur­ing the off­sea­son, they help hunters in­ven­tory the deer on their prop­er­ties, iden­tify po­ten­tial shoot­ers and lo­cate high-traf­fic ar­eas.

When used in-sea­son, hunters can con­firm sus­pected travel routes, key in on hot food sources or fresh sign and keep tabs on stand sites when they’re not able to phys­i­cally be in the woods them­selves. They can also be used to de­ter­mine what time of day bucks are on their feet and if any no­tice­able pat­terns arise worth tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion.

Plac­ing trail cam­eras in strate­gic lo­ca­tions to pro­vide the best in­for­ma­tion with con­sis­tently re­li­able re­sults is the key. There are cer­tainly some tricks worth not­ing in or­der to achieve max­i­mum per­for­mance from these “ar­ti­fi­cial eyes” in the deer woods.

First and most ob­vi­ous, hang the cam­era in an area deer are likely to travel. Seek out high-fre­quency ar­eas that can be con­firmed by deer sign along trails, in­side field cor­ners or over nat­u­ral feed flats.

When­ever pos­si­ble, hang cam­eras at waist height and fac­ing north to avoid di­rect glare from the ris­ing and set­ting sun. If set­ting over a trail, try to di­rect it be­tween a 45-de­gree an­gle and straight up the trail, rather than 90 de­grees par­al­lel to the trail, which will re­sult in more photos of ap­proach­ing and straight away shots, rather than pass­ing shots, which some cam­eras with slow trig­ger speeds will miss.

To avoid un­in­ten­tional im­age cap­tures, lower the PIR or sen­si­tiv­ity set­tings, and be sure there is no sway­ing veg­e­ta­tion be­tween the cam­era and the deer’s ex­pected travel routes.

A good idea is to set the cam­era on a multi-im­age burst to cap­ture sev­eral images at a time.

Some­times deer have their heads turned a cer­tain way that makes iden­ti­fi­ca­tion dif­fi­cult when the photo is taken. A multi-im­age burst of­ten reme­dies this and gives users a bet­ter look at the deer in dif­fer­ent po­si­tions.

Use cau­tion, how­ever, as video modes, as well as multi-im­age cap­ture set­tings, tend to fill SD cards faster and burn through bat­ter­ies at a more fre­quent pace than sin­gle im­age set­tings. This also is so for larger megapixel set­tings, which pro­duce crisper, clearer images.

Prior to the sea­son try to avoid con­tam­i­nat­ing the area with hu­man scent; this means only check­ing cam­eras ev­ery cou­ple of weeks. Dur­ing the sea­son usu­ally en­tails more fre­quent cam­era vis­its, but do so with the same amount of scent con­trol and stealth gen­er­ally used for nor­mal hunt­ing sce­nar­ios.

If trail cam­eras are placed in the proper po­si­tion the in­for­ma­tion they pro­vide can help hunters be in the right po­si­tion at the right time when a qual­ity buck passes through. Yes, even hunters with orig­i­nal in­ten­tions of hunt­ing some­where else.

TYLER FRANTz / CON­TRIBUT­ING PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Trail cam­eras strate­gi­cally placed in the proper lo­ca­tions can prove to be re­li­able deer-scout­ing tools both prior to and dur­ing the hunt­ing sea­son.

THE CIT­I­zENS’ VOICE FILE

A buck is cap­tured on a trail cam.

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