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Deer Hunting Scrapes - It Won't Be Long Now!

by John Mueller 27. October 2008 13:50
John Mueller

IT WON”T BE LONG NOW

  

            The scrapeing is going on strong at my place in IL right now. I found a hot scrape last weekend and set my Moultrie I40 up on it. I was pleasantly surprised this weekend by the results. I got pics of a quite a few different bucks using it. Most of the big guys were at night but that may change in a week or 2.

 

            Here is a pic. of a real nice 10 pointer I had an encounter with 2 weeks ago right at dark. I had him at 40 yards but couldn’t see my pins. At least he is still around.

 

 

The Big 10

 

I got a few action shots of the bucks with their antlers in the branches too. I may have to change the I40 over to the video mode. It has that option built in.

 

I can almost reach it.

 

 

Giving it a thrashing.

 

 

 

 

         Another visitor. 

 

 

Big bodied 8 pointer.

 

 

            If you’re interested in putting a trail camera on your own scrapes, you can order yours right here on Bowhunting.com. Check out the trail cam section

  

Moultrie I40 Trail Camera Review

by John Mueller 29. September 2008 12:52
John Mueller

I put 2 Moultrie I40's into use almost a year ago and have been very impressed with the results. That is after I updated the software. It seems there was some type of glitch in the cameras originally. They would produce a whiteout image when in the IR mode on some pictures. After downloading the update from the Moultrie website onto the SD card and then loading it in the cameras my units have performed very well for me.

The Moultrie I40.

 

The daytime pictures are some of the clearest I have seen from a trail camera. The 4 megapixel camera produces very sharp images.

2 turkeys in my food plot.

A doe in the plot.

 

The one feature I have mixed reviews on is the IR Mode of the camera. It was one of the reasons I had originally bought the camera. To get away from the flash going off in the woods and possibly scareing the deer. This model uses Infrared Illumination to capture lowlight and nighttime photos. A band of 72 IR bulbs glows red to take the lowlight pictures. These photos are black and white images.

 

 This is not supposed to spook deer. I do catch some of them stareing at the camera while it is taking their picture. The bad part about this is it takes a lot of daylight to get the camera off of the IR mode. When my camera is in the woods 90% of the pictures are IR mode even in daylight. The only way I get color daylight pictures is to have my camera on a food plot or open field. The black and white images are great for just cataloging your deer and seeing what is out there. But if you want to frame some of the photos or show them off on your favorite website, the color pictures work much better.

Some of the neat features of this camera are:

1. 3 different still picture settings for picture quility.

2. 2 different video settings. (which I have to figure out so I can put my camera on some scrapes this fall)

3. Uses SD Cards, which most digital cameras use now. I use my camera to view them in the field.

4. A laser aim pointer to adjust where the unit is pointed.

5. Time, Date, Temperature, and Moon Phase stamped on the picture.

6. Uses 6 D-cell batteries that last a reported 150 days. I have had mine in operation for almost 1 year and am on my second set of batteries( still have 65% charge)     Truely extended battery life.

7. Easy to set up and reset after checking.

Nice and simple to operate, not a lot of switches or buttons.

8. Does the scouting when you're not there.

Some things I would like to see changed:

1. The SD Card is in a very awkward place to get to. Unless you have very long skinny fingers. There are many other places this could have been put.

Here you can see the SD Card just to the left of the white label.

2. The unit is a big black box. A grey or softer color would not stand out nearly as much. Harder for the deer and would be thieves to see.

3. No real way to lock it to the tree.

4. It does make a bit of a click when the shutter opens.

All in all I have to say the pluses far outweigh the minuses on this camera. I am very happy with the service my 2 units have given me in the year I have had them. No problems at all after doing the original upgrade to the software. And I have not heard of another unit with the battery life of the I40. If you would like to try one of these out for yourself. They can be purchased right here on Bowhunting.com by following the link below.

Cuddeback Excite 2.0 Megapixel Digital Trail Camera

by Administrator 26. September 2008 15:43
Admin

Two summers ago I was in the market for a new trail camera, my first digital model to be exact.  Up until that point I only had experience with my 35 mm CamTrakker units which worked great but I was eager to get into the digital world and stop paying those film development costs.  So I did a little bit of research to see what was available in my price range with the features I was lookign for and settled on the Cuddeback Excite 2.0 megapixel digital trail camera.  The unit was fairly compact in size with a reported excellent trigger speed, battery life, and traditional flash for night photos. 

With a retail prce of around $300 (which has since falling to under $250) it was one of the more affordable digital trail cameras on the market, and I had heard a lot of good things about Cuddeback units in general so I placed my order.  Several days later a nice new trail camera showed up at my office.  I was eager to use the camera so of course the first thing I did was take it out of the package and start figuring out how to use it.

My first complaint was that the camera didn't come with a flash card or have any internal memory, which meant I had to go buy a flash card somewhere.  While this is fairly common for most trail cameras, it still frustrutes me none the less.  Would it really be THAT hard to bundle the cameras with a flash card?  I'm sure most consumers would be willing to pay a few extra bucks to avoid that trip to the electronics store when they'd rather be in the field using their new trial camera.  In any case, off I went to my local Best Buy to pick up a compact Flash card, which set me back another $40 or so.  I also picked up 4 "D" cell batteries while I was out, and I was finally ready to go.

When inserting the batteries into the camera I then became frustrated by the metal plate that holds the batteries in place.  I couldn't seem to get it to stay put properly and the batteries kept falling out every time I turned the camera on it's end.  However, after a few minutes of tinkering with it I finally figured out the trick and got everything in place.  A word of advice - make sure the little plastic lever behind the battery cover is pulled out and to the side when inserting the batteries, then push it back in place once you've inserted the cover.  It took me a few tries to figure out how to work the battery cover properly, but once I figured it out I haven't had a problem since.

My next step was turning the trail camera on and figuring out how to take photos.  After a minute or two of running through the instructions I managed to set the date, time, and camera settings without too much effort.  The menus are fairly simple to understand and easy enough to set properly, which I really liked.  The buttons that control the camera are big enough that they're easily depressed, and there's not so many of them that you can't figure out what they all do.  The on/off switch is also good size and right in your face, which is a plus.  Like many other cameras I've played with in the past with my Cuddeback Excite you have to remember to set it to "live" mode once you turn it on or you won't capture any photos.  Just because it's on doesn't mean it's actually taking photos, remember that!  A few pushes of a button once you turn the switch on and you're ready to go.  Additionally, there is an easy to adjust hi/low sensitivity setting which allows you to adjust how sensitive your camera is to motion in case you have the camera in a high-traffic area and don't want to capture every photo of every raccoon, squirrel, or bird that comes by. 

Once I was ready to hit the woods with my new Cuddeback Excite I had to figure out how to attach it to the tree where I wanted it set up.  I couldn't figure out the eyelet that comes attached to the back of the camera, I'm assuming you're supposed to use some sort of strap through the eyelet but that seemed like too much of a pain for me, so I opted to go with the torx-head screw that is included.  This is a nice little feature that allows you to screw the camera directly into the tree for a nice solid attachment, then the cover goes over the screw head and can be locked for an additional measure of security.  Just make sure you've got a torx-head wrench with you when you want to move your camera.  I forgot mine in the truck once after a long walk and I was none too happy when I had to turn around and go back to get it! 

A week or so after I set my camera out I came back to check on things and was amazed to find out that even though the camera showed a bunch of activity, there were no photos on the compact flash card.  Dejected and pissed off I took the camera home to do some testing.  I tried several CF cards and numerous setting changes with the same results - the camera would activate and say it was taking a photo, it would even flash in low light, but there were no photos on the card.  Eventually I gave up and the camera sat on my desk for a few months without moving.  By the time I got around to figuring out what was wrong the season was over and my camera hadn't taken a single photo of a deer.

After deciding I must have had a defective camera I went on the Cuddeback website in hopes of finding a number to call for some help.  What I found instead was an FAQ area that walked me through some simple troubleshooting before deciding that my camera was indeed defective and needed to be sent back.  An online RMA process gave me all the info I needed so I packed my camera up and shipped it back to Cuddeback.  I was very impressed with their online system for returns and repairs.

About two weeks later my repaired camera showed up at the office and it was time to start over.  Kudos to Cuddeback customer service, this was a very painless process and I had my camera back in my hands with a new set of instructions and a repair sheet to tell me what had be done. (If I recall correctly I believe they replaced the actual circuitboard inside the camera).  So I threw some batteries in, put my CF card in, configured all my settings and put it up on my desk.  After a few test shots I tested the camera and bingo!  I had plenty of good photos on the card this time.  At last, I was ready to put it out in the woods for a real test.

That weekend I took a trip down to Pike County, IL with Craig Neace from BowhuntingWhitetails.com.  I decided to see how the Excite would do on the farm we would be hunting later that fall.  Craig and I located a suitable spot for the camera, screwed it on the tree, turned it on, and off we went.  I knew I wasn't going to be back down to this spot for at least 4-6 weeks so I hoped the batteries would hold up and I would have some good photos to show for it.

Early September arrived and it was time to go hang treestands in preparation for the October 1 opener, and check my Cuddeback Excite while I was at it.  Much to my surprise the camera still had plenty of battery life in it after 6 weeks in the field, and it had taken nearly 100 photos without a hiccup.  Now it was time to see what type of photos we had.

Overall my impression of the photos taken by my Excite is so-so.  This is a middle-of-the-road camera so I didn't expect the best photos in the world, which is what I got.  The 2.0 megapixel images are plenty large to view fullsize and see pretty good detail, but a lot of the photos are blurry, especially if the deer is moving at anything more than a slow walk.  I'm no expert but it seems that the problem is caused by a shutter speed that is a bit too long during daylight hours, trying to gather additional light without using the flash.  It can be frustrating at times as about one third of my photos are pretty blurry. (click the photo on the right to see it full sized for an example)  However, the rest of them are pretty crisp so I can't complain too much. (click the photo below to view larger version)  Trigger speed appears to be great as I didn't have very many butt shots, and sensitivity appears to be pretty good as well as I didn't have many empty shots either.  All in all, I was very happy with the results of my first real test in the field.

I set the camera back up with some fresh batteries and didn't check it again until the 20th of October and the same as last time I had a lot of photos, some good, some blurry, and plenty of battery life remaining.  Once again the Cuddeback Excite did it's job and I was happy.

My next test and last of the year came during the late season here in Illinois when I set the camera up near a hay field that the deer were hitting hard on a nightly basis.  Unfortunately something must have been blowing in front of the camera because it took one photo every minute for 800 minutes in a row until it ran out of battery life.  A week later when I came back I was disappointed to find 800 images of the forest, and only a few chance shots of a few does that wandered in front of the camera near dark.  Since the hunting season was over and it was brutally cold and snowy outside I took the camera home and did some more testing, which showed it was working alright, before putting it up for the year.  Next time it goes out in the field (in about a month) I'm going to try the sensitivity setting on low to see how it performs.

With this summer comes a new test of the camera entering it's 3rd season.  I'm hoping to take advantage of the extended battery life during the warm summer months so I don't have to check the camera very often, thus minimizing my scent in the areas I'll be hunting come fall.  I hope to put the camera out sometime in July at our new hunting spot in Brown County, IL and leave it up for a month or so before returning to check on things in August.  Overall I have been pleased with the performance of this trail camera.  With prices dropping to the $230 range this is an excellent option for people who want a digital trail camera with good trigger speed and decent photo quality.  It may not by an infrared camera, but the standard flash does a good job at night with the pictures turning out pretty good.  Nighttime photos are a little grainy at times, but they are good enough to get the job done.

Overall I'd give the Cuddeback Excite 2.0 megapixel Digital Trail Camera a 3 out of 5 rating.

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Moultrie Game Spy I-40 Infrared Digital Trail Camera Archery Equipment Review

by Todd Graf 26. September 2008 15:38
Todd Graf

I wanted a camera that didn’t produce a visible flash. I have read many of the debates online about whether the visible flash spooks deer and I have talked to many friends who use flash cameras. Many of them feel the visible flash does spook deer. I reasoned that if the IR mode helped me photograph even one more buck on my farm that otherwise might have melted into the woodwork at the sight of the distant flash, it was worth the price.

I selected the Moultrie Game Spy I-40 Infrared unit primarily because it is affordable (around $230 - $240) and has a nice four mega-pixel camera. It takes regular photos during the day and IR flash photos at night. Moultrie advertised some other neat features that I wanted, such as long battery life, quick trigger time and a laser aim that makes aligning the camera a snap.

I ran six I-40s on my land for three months last fall and got many images of great bucks. This review will detail what I learned.

SPECIFICATIONS

The camera has many very useful features. First, as mentioned, it has an infrared flash. The camera still has to produce a flash, but the flash is infrared, not visible white light.

It has an infrared sensor that detects changes in temperature in order to trigger the shot. It is not supposed to trigger on branch or grass movement. I got a lot of images of grass, but it is possible that the way I had the cameras set up there was a temperature gradient between sun and shadow and that was causing the extraneous shots. Either way, it was a bit annoying but not a major issue.

Moultrie advertises a 150-day battery life on these cameras and I can’t dispute that number. I had them out for 90 days and all of the cameras still show roughly 75% battery charge.

The I-40 has a 50-foot flash rating. Again, I would have to say their number is conservative. I have shots of deer that are at least 50 feet away. The camera didn’t seem to trigger on these long range deer, but they certainly appeared in the shot when the camera triggered on closer deer. I am not sure from looking at my photos what the maximum sensor distance is for the camera to trigger, but I don’t see any that were much beyond about 15 to 20 feet.

The camera accepts SD cards and as inexpensive as these have become, the SD is definitely the route to go.

The I-40 has a cool feature in which it prints the date, temperature, time and moon phase on the images. This offers a great way to monitor activity versus these factors. I felt like the temperature reading was at least somewhat accurate. The rest, or course, were simply a function of your initial settings.

  • It has a video mode that I did not test.
  • The software is upgradeable and that fact proved to be beneficial later.
  • The camera is weather-resistant and airtight. I had no problems in this regard.
  • Operates on 6 D-cell batteries

NOTICEABLE GAME SPOOKING

I could tell from some of the photos I got that the sound of the shutter opening and closing was enough to alarm some of the deer. I got tons of photos of deer staring at the camera, so they must have heard something.

In a few cases, they looked noticeably tense, back on their heals, while in others they merely seem curious. Typically, the tense ones appeared to be older deer and even then, it was only a few. Overall, I would say that deer were not excessively alarmed by the camera. Most got used to the sound of the shutter quickly enough. In fact, I generally got multiple pictures of each buck on the corn pile even though I had the camera set for a one-minute delay. They may have been startled enough to look up, but most weren’t startled enough to leave.

THE QUALITY OF THE IMAGES

The daylight images look great, as you will see from some of the samples. In the Low Quality mode, you don’t degrade the image; you simply reduce its resolution. They still appear clear but you can’t enlarge them to look more closely at a sticker point, for example. That is why, if you are going to check the camera often, you should use the Enhanced or High Quality modes. On the upside, I was able to get huge numbers of these low-resolution images on a single 1 GB SD card, a tremendous advantage given the fact that I only checked the cameras every two weeks.

WHAT I LIKED

I liked the long battery life, and overall, I liked the quality of the photos. I am not a huge fan of the way the infrared flash images look because they appear washed out in many cases. Basically, they are black and white photos. Standard flash photos look much better but then you have the flash. If you like to blow up the photos from your trail camera and put them in a scrapbook or on your wall, you definitely don’t want infrared (unless you like black and white photos).

However, the overall clarity and sharpness of these images is definitely impressive enough to justify printing them out on paper. The daylight shots are gorgeous. Moultrie makes a conventional flash version of this camera, as well, for those who prefer the look of that format. Moultrie also makes a six mega-pixel version that would likely produce fantastic enlargements, suitable for poster size around the hunting camp.

I was set up to photograph over corn piles in order to better control the position of the deer so I never severely tested the camera’s quick trigger time, but I did test the battery life. During those three months, I never replaced a single battery. In fact, pulling all the units out of the box I keep them in, they are still showing roughly 75% battery charge. That is very impressive given how many photos of crows, deer, raccoons, cattle, ATV riders and turkeys I took. In fact, more than once I arrived to harvest my SD cards and had nearly 1,500 images on each.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

The infrared I-40 took fine, useable pictures once it decided which mode to be in. Unfortunately, it had a hard time deciding that important status. At daybreak and dusk, presumably when the camera had to decide how to react to the light conditions, it produced unusable images. Very disappointing.

The I-40 has a standard photo mode for daylight images and an infrared flash for nighttime images. When it tries to take infrared flash photos during low light daytime conditions the images are completely blown out. They are pure white. Entirely overexposed. It leaves you wondering what deer came in at these prime times and left before the I-40 got a readable photo of the animal.

I called Moultrie to report the problem and to test their customer service. It was a Monday morning and they reported that they receive high call volumes on Mondays. The recording advised me to call back mid-week. I didn’t need the information in two days, I needed it at that time. I guess I would simply shuffle someone else into that position as needed to keep the wait time low. So I waited. I spent one about 7 minutes on hold before I got the technician, not at all out of line given I have spent 40 minutes before trying to get the right technician at AT&T. No wonder I changed my long distance service. Anyway, back to the I-40.

After explaining the problem, the very polite technician directed me to their website where I found and downloaded the necessary firmware updates. She assured me that the software update would fix that problem 99% of the time. The process was simple. I went to the page displaying the I-40, clicked on the software update link and then followed the directions.

After erasing the SD card in the camera, I connected a USB cord between the camera and my computer so I could copy the files (you must upgrade two files) to the camera’s SD card. It is a simple drag and drop process. After placing the files on the card, I then went through the menu and updated the software as detailed on the website. It is a painless and well-explained process.

Of course, the big question is whether this fixed the problem. I have not had the opportunity to get the cameras back in action but from the assurances of the technician it sounds like they are well aware of this problem and have addressed it with the software upgrade.

CONCLUSIONS

For the price, I think this is a great camera. I don’t need to see beautiful photos so I am fine with the infrared mode, I just want to know what is living on my farm and where, so I know where to concentrate my efforts and this camera will give me everything I need along those lines. It has a huge battery life, plenty of juice to last me an entire season, so I see no reason (assuming the over-exposure problem is solved) not to buy this camera. I give it a big thumbs up.

 

 

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