I got some great pictures of cow eyeballs looking into the camera because it was new and exciting and cows are nosy. I also got pictures of an ugly feral hog that was white with brown, black, red and some other colored spots. We named him Patch, because he looked like he was wearing a patch work quilt. Patch had a bounty on him for being so ugly, and the pot grew weekly for the lucky guy to sausage olí Patch.
Bacon on the Hoof.
Lessons learned from my first season with a trail camera:
First, make sure that you carefully read the instructions on how to physically place the trail camera. I had only briefly read the instructions for suggested camera placement and thought I knew best. But I had actually watched multiple deer pass by and my trail camera completely missed them due to poor placement. I had paid too much attention to placing my precious trail camera up high, out of the sun, and away from thieves. After visiting other trail camera sites with tons of good photos of trophy animals, I began to notice one thing. Those pictures were taken on the same level as the animals.
I had placed my trail camera too high and at an angle, which limited the triggering range. The first thing to do is to set the camera on the same level as the animal you want to see, in a direction that best captures their avenues of approach. After that, consider keeping your trail camera out of the rising and setting sun for maximum game photos. Also, by getting in closer you can get a better look at the animals. I had set up my trail camera a little too far away.
Fig. 2 The one that walked away.
As the season passed, I reviewed the trail camera data weekly. I got a little excited about several photos of a nice buck (Fig 3). However, I daydreamed like a giddy bride-to-be about her upcoming wedding over a single photo of a trophy buck that had passed by one evening (Fig 2). I patterned the first nice buck, but passed on him the only morning that he was outside my blind because my expectation was that the coveted trophy buck was sure to follow. And like a forlorn bridesmaid, I finished the season still waiting for the trophy buck. A trophy photo in the trail camera does not equal a trophy in the freezer...which brings me to my next point.
Fig. 3 Passing on Mr. Nice.
Get to know your deer. This being the first year of our lease, we emplaced several ground rules about what constitutes a management buck and an agreed trophy buck. However, we didn't really know the genetic potential of our deer, and our expectation of this trophy 10 pointed deer might have been a bit overzealous. To date, only one 5 1/2 year old 10 pointer was harvested. However, we do know there are multiple 3 to 4 year old 8 pointers and several 6 pointers as well, so the future is looking bright. We know this because we have them on our trail cameras.
Now, one last word of advice. After youíve shown the War Department (your wife) all of those great trail camera pictures of deer on your leased land, but you havenít harvested anything the entire season, be prepared to explain good deer management practices to her as you write out next yearís deer lease check.
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