Our Outdoors: Sights Unseen

With archery deer hunting seasons open, or just about to open across the upper Midwest, each cache of photos that comes off of the trail cameras tucked against trees around the region provide important insight into the patterns of deer which will be pursued this fall.  Trail cams now have trigger sensitivity and lenses to rival any professional photographer’s camera, with 10-, 12- and even 14-megapixel models providing insight into what’s going on when hunters can’t be outdoors, with a clarity previously unknown showing every movement in detail along the trails and log landings where hunters hope to connect with their quarry.  With this increase in technology, less-powerful models now become less expensive, and it is not unusual to find previous seasons’ cameras of four-, six- or eight megapixels for under 50 or 75 dollars which still provide great insight into what’s happening.

 

turkey
Gobble Gobble! A wild turkey trots into camera range

What these advancements allow for is even greater expansion of trail cams to catch all those deer in the act of visiting a salt lick or walking down a small path in the grass.  But along with those sought after pictures of old Otis, the non-typical 22 point monster buck hanging on the dark edges of the camera’s range, come some other great pictures that provide insight into what else goes on in when sportsmen aren’t in the field.

Visitors to trail cameras are as varied as the biodiversity in the immediate area.  Turkeys, pheasants, songbirds and other fowl have set off the motion detector on many cameras, which capture the wary looks of these wandering birds as the nearly inaudible click echoes in their sensitive ears.  Additional guests including weasels and raccoons aren’t uncommon either, as the curious creatures check out the popular stops that hold deer’s attention in their travels as well.  Catching these mammals – with some very humanlike behaviors – on camera is always a treat as they preen and seemingly pose for the lens.

raccoons
Wait, what?!  A pair of raccoons check something out off camera. 

Small game and varmints lend an air of comic relief in a file filled with photos and provide more insight into what’s in the area.  Sometimes though, trail cameras provide a glimpse of what keeps deer out of an area as well.  Predators like coyotes, mountain lions and wolves can be a startling and unwelcome addition to a set of photos, and explain why the camera took so few pictures of bucks and does since the last visit.
When a camera does capture visiting deer, the results can often be comical as these inquisitive animals attempt to track down the origin of the minute click on many models.  With that, alarmed head raises, cautious steps toward the lens, and even full-on in-your-face inspection of the trail cam can lead to some pretty funny photos and video of deer visiting the area.

face
In Your Face!  An eight-point buck gets up close and personal with a trail cam.

While big bucks are the usual reward that is shared among hunting buddies or on the internet, other trail camera contests request those photos of the weird and wild creatures that might come along and strike a pose in between the big game sportsmen are usually looking for.  With hunting seasons getting underway and deer and other animals becoming more active with the approaching pre-rut and lengthening nighttime hours, trail cameras will capture the increased hustle and bustle along the trails and in the meadows of the region.  With hundreds of trail cam options available at a variety of price points, the armchair naturalist and the budget hunter can join the die-hards in viewing all of the action and be even more able to catalog those amazing sights which might normally go unseen…in our outdoors.

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