I am relatively a newbie when it comes to utilizing trailcameras for whitetail scouting or inventory purposes. In years past I just didn’t understand their appeal. I understood that photos of big bucks were cool and often couldn’t wait to view some of the snapshots my good friend and hunting partner, Justin Zarr, was able to capture on his. In fact, he’s probably the single greatest influence to why I use them today. I just couldn’t understand why someone would waste their time giving away their position long before the season started. The problem for me was that extra human scent we are certain to leave behind and how it influences deer movement.
Since I’ve started using cameras over the past two years, I’ve been fortunate to have captured some pretty unique whitetail behaviors, something I attribute to my never ending bout to control my human odor. For me, it’s a relatively simple endeavor. Living in the farm country that I do I utilize the terrain to the best of my ability and simply don’t push too far into the woods. I use rubber boots, rubber gloves, and approach my cameras the same as I would approach a treestand. I try my best to eliminate human pressure even while not hunting.
Whether or not this is the reason for some of the unique photos I’ve gotten is certainly debatable. It could be nothing more than luck. However, if the old saying holds true and luck really is where preparation meets opportunity, then perhaps it’s something more. Perhaps those extra little steps do give me more luck in the photos I capture.
This past weekend while checking my cameras looking for the first signs of bucks that have dropped antlers, I was surprised at what I had captured. Nearly mid-January and to my surprise a fight for dominance between two bucks! In fact, just days earlier while enjoying my last sunset of the year from a nearby treestand – I witnessed the same two bucks harmlessly feeding alongside each other acting as if they were the best of buds. My stealthcam said otherwise.
The battle took place between a busted former seven-point buck that Justin and I have captured at least fifty pictures of since the start of deer season. This two-year old is an absolute terror, a warrior who’s had a mostly battered rack since before Veteran’s Day. His opponent was a more timid three-year old eight-point with a wide spread, another buck Justin and I knew well, but had far less photos of.
The two-year old broken seven-pointer gloats in front of my trailcamera following the fight.
The reclusive three-year old eight-pointer in early October.
When the two bucks first enter the field they appear as equals, casually strolling out to feed just like I had observed days before. A doe group enters from the camera’s right side and suddenly tempers flare. The bucks’ ears go back, full body posturing while walking in a circle around each other for several frames. The battle grows more intense while the females look on. Eleven minutes later the battle ends, only the mangled snow-covered field still shows the signs of the struggle that took place.
While it’s not clear who won, the two-year old ends up sticking around another twenty minutes and posing in front of the camera. The reclusive eight-pointer casually strolls off behind the doe group like nothing happened.
The fight doesn't begin to shape until does enter the field.
The eleven-minute battle would end and begin at least three times, while my camera snapped over 150 images of the scene.
Notice the snow between the first and last frame - showing the battle that once took place. The only sign that still existed the day I went to check this camera.
Like I said, I’ve been fortunate to capture some pretty amazing whitetail behaviors with my trailcameras in my short time utilizing them. These new photos are among my favorites.