August 12, 2010
by Chris Feeney
I havenít gotten to the point where Iíll be replacing my bow with my camera, but right now in the middle of scouting season I have to admit photography is a whole lot of fun.
Of course, itís pretty easy to put those trail cameraís out and check them once every couple of weeks. The battery-powered automated picture takers have revolutionized scouting. I canít say they are huge timesavers for me, as I was pretty much too lazy to have ever committed the time it would have taken to scout my hunting regions anywhere as close to this often.
Still the results are difficult to argue with.
While the photo images give you an idea of whatís out there, and when and where they are traveling on a regular basis, the most fun I have is simply cataloging the inventory so to speak. While not every buck is unique enough to identify, more often than not the big boys have some characteristic or trait that makes them stand out from the rest of the herd.
Just like we give people nicknames such as Whitey (a calling card my six-year daughter still hasnít distanced herself from) trail camera aficionados do the same thing with their bucks.
Over the years we have enjoyed watching Bullwinkle, One-Eyed Willy, Big Eight and Hook. The first one looks like a moose, while One-Eyed Willy (a pirate character from the movie Goonies) doesnít have the buccaneer patch, but is missing an eye weíre guessing courtesy of a sparring match with another sharp-racked buck. Hook, who my oldest daughter has already laid dibs on, is a big racked trophy who has a hook-shaped kicker at the top of one antler.
Of course there are otherís like Elliot, the one horned wonder from Open Season cartoon fame, and Shrek, a non-typical with a nice four-point antler on one side, and a damaged mass on the other side that resembles the famous ogreís ear.
All these characters play a cat and mouse game with the various trail cameras we have installed to try and get a glimpse of them. Some are regular visitors at one site or another, partaking in our gift of mineral, or stopping in for desert and a lick or two of the Trophy Rock (now available at Bangeís Gun Shop if you hadnít heard).
Of course this isnít like pictures of your kids, with proud papaís showing everyone and anyone they can get to look at the photos. Trail camera bucks are far closer to top secret spy material. While our camera cards donít blow up five seconds after viewing, I know youíll understand if I donít share too many of the images in this space. Besides, it wouldnít likely be very representative of whatís really walking around on my hunting spots, as I suspect there are some portraits that may have been skimmed from the public file, being meant only for the eyes of the first person to get a glimpse. (I guess my hunting partners donít think Iím smart enough to see the pictures are stamped with an ID number, and realize there are some gaps in the records here and there.) Thatís why this special memory card recovery program I have comes in real handy. I got it once because a photo card was accidentally erased. Somehow this software can recover such pictures, even though they have been deleted from the card. Just call me James Buck 007.
All these deer pictures have led me to dust off my bow and start flinging an arrow or two at the target. Iím either going to have to invest in a new target, or a new fence behind it, because the foam deer is showing its age and looking more and more like Swiss cheese. The fence has been hit a time or two, even before I could blame it on the target. Solid wood and carbon arrows donít mix well. Good thing I donít have any pictures of that for the history book.