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One Tough Buck | Crazy Trail Camera Photos

by Bow Staff 3. May 2012 08:22
Bow Staff

These incredible trail camera photos have been making the rounds for the past few months, and we wanted to share them with those who haven't seen them yet.  Anyone who hunts whitetails can atest to their toughness, and this buck is certainly no exception to that rule. 

The story below was included with the photos as they were e-mailed to us.  We have no idea if it is true or not, but regardless of the story these are some incredible pictures.  It truly is unfortunate to see a wounded animal, especially when that wound was caused by a hunter, however it's also a harsh reminder that even though we may try our best and do everything right, the hunter doesn't always win.

"I shot this buck on Nov. 16 in Kansas from a ground blind at 16 yards with a 70 lbs. bow and a Rage 3 blade broad head.  I waited until he was quartering away and aimed for the opposite shoulder.  The arrow penetrated almost to the fletching.  The deer ran about 60 yards, stopped, staggered and almost went down.  He looked around then ran another 120 yards and jumped over the neighbors fence.  We obtained permission to look for him and did so for most of the next two days.  We trailed him about 1/4 mile and lost blood.  We then put a tracking dog on him, but never found the buck.  When the neighbor checked his trail cameras this is what he found.

I have shot several deer with this broad head with amazing results and some of the shots were not this good.  I am saddened and puzzled by this outcome.

My gut feeling is that the broad head deflected off the ribs and never entered the heart/lung area.  If you zoom in on some of the photos you can see that the broad head did open fully on impact and there was a very good blood trail for 5-600 yards.

The neighbor has promised to check his cameras regularly to try and see if he makes it or not."

Categories: Bowhunting Blogs

Food Plot 101

by Jordan Howell 23. April 2012 10:52
Jordan Howell

One of the hottest topics in the hunting industry today is Food Plots.  Some hunters will argue that they are absolutely necessary to kill big bucks; others will say you don't need them.  Despite the fact that there is no magical big buck potion, food plots definitely have their place in deer management and can drastically increase a hunter's success….IF they are done right.  For a bowhunter who may be a novice when it comes to food plots, trying to figure out everything on your own can be a nightmare.  For example, what to plant, where to plant, and the never ending when, how, and why’s associated with growing food plots can drive a person crazy. Quite often, these are questions many landowners and managers don't have answers to. As a result, many guess or take the advice of friends.  This trial and error method produces mixed results because not everything works in every situation. Hunters also have many misconceptions about food plots; such as you must have access to large equipment to be successful. This isn't true in most cases.  The only thing a hunter really needs is a determined attitude and the patience to do things right. So, if you happen to be one of the many bowhunters who have wanted to start your very own food plot, but didn’t because you thought you couldn’t do it for one reason or another----then this article is for you. Let’s begin with the basics....the EXTREME basics.

Establishing an intimate knowledge of your hunting area will go a long way toward reaching your management goals

It has been said that you must have long term goals to prevent frustration with short term failures. This is definitely true when it comes to habitat management.  Planning and forethought on the part of the hunter will have an immeasurable effect on the success of his/her food plots.  Because every piece of property is different, there is no food plot strategy that works for everyone. In order to be successful, one must carefully examine the needs and capabilities of his/her particular property before starting. The first question a hunter must ask himself is WHY do you want a food plot?  Is it to attract more deer to your property, or perhaps grow bigger bucks? Maybe it is to hold deer on your property by providing them with added nutrition. Before you plant the first seed, take a minute and write down what your short term and long term goals for the property are. This will help determine the starting point for your management plan because not all hunters want the same things, or can realistically achieve the same goals. For example, in the Southeastern part of the country, growing a “Booner  Buck” is not exactly an attainable goal. Many hunters in that region would be happy to simply see more deer while they are hunting. When it comes to your own wants and needs, think about what it is you ultimately wish to accomplish on your property.  Then, evaluate what your property's current short term and long term potential is; writing down its strengths and weaknesses. This will help you come up with a list of goals for the management of the property. 


Mineral Sites are an excellent means for not only attracting deer, but also helping bucks maximize their antler potential.

Once you have determined your goals, you can begin formulating a plan to carry them out.  The first thing that I like to do on a property is find out what kind of deer herd I am dealing with.  Although walking the property will give me clues about terrain, available forage, cover etc, there is no way I can accurately inventory the deer herd on a farm without added help.  One of the best tools for helping you do this is a good trail camera.  It will serve as your eyes in the woods….24 hours a day. When selecting a site to place a camera, I always pick an area where I can monitor and check it with minimal pressure to the local deer. This means placing my camera on the fringes of the property; places I can easily drive to or get very close to with my truck, thus minimizing the amount of human scent I leave in the area. This is a key step because the less intrusion I make, the more apt the deer will be to use the area. If placing minerals or attractants is not legal in your state, then pick a location that gets a lot of natural traffic, such as water holes, openings in fences, or where fence-rows meet the woods.  If putting out attractants is legal in your area, then by all means do so. This will increase the number of deer images you capture on your camera. Putting out minerals is also the easiest and cheapest way to establish deer numbers and develop a management plan on your property.  After that, the only decision you will have to make is do you want to simply attract more deer to your property or are you interested in growing bigger and healthier deer?  I know that is a simple question, but remember, we're taking baby steps here. If pure attraction is what you want out of your property, then a product such as Monster Raxx's Whitetail Magnet will work great.  It is a highly concentrated oil based attractant and deer find the sweet smell irresistible. On the other hand, if you want to attract deer, while at the same time, benefit them nutritionally, a product such as Monster Raxx's Trophy Minerals would be a suitable choice. This particular product still has some salt to attract deer, but has many different macro and trace minerals that will help with antler production and doe lactation which will lead to healthier fawns.  Mineral sites serve several roles to a hunter/ land manager. In addition to immediately attracting deer to your area and providing them with a nutritional boost, they help you inventory and keep track of your deer herd by documenting each visitor to the site. Plus they require very little effort on the hunter's part. I can't think of a product that gives a hunter more bang for his buck! 

 This plot was selected to be a "kill plot" inorder to intercept cruising bucks during the rut.

Once you have completed your mineral site setup, you can then begin to evaluate your property's food plot potential. The most important thing to remember is that without a clear picture of what your farm needs or what the conditions are, no one can offer a “catch-all” solution that will work.  The number one reason for food plot failure is improper site and/or forage selection. I cringe when I hear a plethora of different answers to questions regarding “what to plant” or “what to do” to improve a particular plot. While suggestions such as plant clover, plant beans, or add lime CAN be good, first and foremost, site selection and “plot purpose” must be taken into consideration. 
For example, currently I am working on a new plot on a piece of property that presents some unique challenges. I have hunted this particular farm for seven seasons. The entire southwestern corner of the property is roughly made up of 20 acre’s of impenetrable thicket; so thick that I can’t walk through it, much less hunt it.  The northeast section of this farm contains a swamp and holds a lot of deer.  The deer feed to the south in large agricultural fields. The swamp is the sanctuary on the property, so I don't hunt there. The center of the farm has little timber and is difficult to hunt.  I have put in a couple of plots in the center to provide late season forage for the deer.  This year I have decided to utilize the thicket that I haven’t been able to do anything with. 

 Treestand view from the "kill plot".

I have basically cleared out a section of the thicket where several trails crisscross and planted about a 1/3 acre “kill plot” in this section. I plan to utilize this particular area during the rut when I hope to capitalize on bucks cruising from North to South in search of does.  The addition of a plot surrounded by security cover will give wary bucks a spot to stop briefly and scent check for a receptive mate. Also, access to this location is perfect. With a North or Northeast wind I will be able to walk up the tree-line to the west and climb into the stand without alerting any deer to my presence. I cannot stress enough the importance of a covert access when hunting a food plot, or anywhere for that matter.  A good spot with perfect access is better than a great spot with bad access. If the deer know you are hunting them the greenest plot in the world won't do you any good. Once you have selected a location, you must decide on what type of forage to plant. Before doing this please remember to do one thing……A SOIL TEST!  This information will prove to be invaluable.  Not only will it provide you with soil PH, it will tell you soil type and nutrient levels as well. This will help you determine what kind of plot will grow the best on your land. 

After a site has been selected for your new food plot, it is vital to conduct a soil sample test.

In the case of the new plot on my farm, the soil test indicated my PH was low, and the soil was sandy, but organic matter was high. This is fairly typical of plots in the woods that have never been cultivated.  I wanted a clover plot, but typically clovers do better in heavier soils because they need a good amount of moisture. Based on the information in my soil test, I decided on a blend of annual clovers and brassicas, as well as alfalfa and chicory. I want a plot that will have peak attractiveness during the rut; when I plan to hunt it. The clovers and brassicas will provide that attractiveness, while the alfalfa's large roots will help hold moisture that the soil won’t; which allows the clover to attach to and utilize the water in its root system.
There are forages that would be easier to establish, but again I want peak attraction to be late October through November. The annual clovers will provide a quick green-up and will give the plot attractiveness while the lime builds up in the soil to raise the PH. Once the PH reaches 6.5, hopefully by next year, then I will plant a perennial. 

Success is failure turned inside out.  No matter what your goals are for a property, careful planning will make all the difference in the success of your food plots.  It isn't rocket science by any means, and anyone who wants to do it can.  All it takes is effort, determination, and creativity.  Just remember that to reach a destination, you must first know where you are going.  Make a list of management goals for your property, stick to them, and don't cut any corners achieving them.  If done correctly, food plots will be another deadly weapon in your arsenal of tactics. In my next article we will discuss soil testing a little more in-depth and move forward with the over-all food plot construction.

Trail Cameras Don't Always Have Good News

by Justin Zarr 26. September 2011 16:18
Justin Zarr

With the price of today's trail cameras well within reach of most bowhunters, you're hard pressed to find a hunter who doesn't own at least one or two. Most of us put these handy little devices out during the mid-summer months in hopes of catching a monster buck lurking within our hunting areas. Just one photo is all it takes to get your blood pumping and cause many nights of lost sleep leading up to the hunting season. However, this isn't always how it plays out in the whitetail woods.

Heading into this summer I was admittedly anxious to find out what would show up on my trail cameras at one of my primary hunting areas here in the Chicagoland suburbs. Last year was one of the worst years for getting pictures of good bucks on this farm, despite the fact that I was able to connect on a very nice whitetail in mid-November. Having taken out the lone buck that was a consistant resident of this area I was unsure who would take his place come this fall.

After shooting this buck last fall I was somewhat concerned to see what bucks, if any, moved in to take his place.  During the course of the fall he was the only buck that showed up with any consistancy on my trail cameras.

With 6 trail cameras running since early July, my fears have somewhat come true. I have yet to get a single picture of a buck I would consider a shooter. In fact, it took several months before I got a picture of a buck at all! If anyone is proof that there isn't a Booner behind every tree here in Illinois, it's certainly me.

This up and coming 2 year old has been a regular on two of my cameras this summer.  He's nice, but not a shooter.

It seems like each year I have a plethora of these messed-up yearling bucks running around.  I have no idea what happens to them after the fall is over.  They seemingly disappear.

I'm pretty sure this buck is a 3 year old, but his jacked up left side doesn't exactly get my heart pounding.

I believe this the the oldest buck I've captured on my camera this summer at 4 or 5 years old, but he won't score much over 100 inches with that rack.  If I see him, there's a very real chance he'll get an arrow flung his way...

Another up and coming 2 year old who will probably disappear after this season.

Possibly the best buck I have on camera so far, I think this buck is 3 years old and will be lucky to hit 125 inches gross.  A nice buck, but not what I'm looking for this season.

Despite my lack of targets for this fall, I'm not worried yet. Every year there's always a few bucks who move through this area during the end of October and into November when the rut kicks in. I know my stands are hung in the best spots to catch one of these cruisers when they make the mistake of coming through, so there's no need to panic quite yet. The same goes for those of you out there who are in a similar situation. Just because the big bucks are eluding your trail cameras right now doesn't mean they won't make the mistake of moving into your area later in the year. The key is to hunt hard, hunt smart and be ready when he shows up! After all, you just never know what's going to happen in the whitetail woods.

I captured several photos of this buck, nicknamed "Big Mac", last season but nothing after November 18th.  I didn't find his sheds and don't have any photos of him so far this year.  Although I have no idea if he's alive or not, I'm still holding out hope that he's around and until I know otherwise he is my #1 target on this particular farm.

With that said, heading into opening weekend Mike and I will be hunting a new farm that we picked up roughly 2 1/2 hours from home. We know there's at least one shooter roaming those woods and we're pretty sure there's a few more where he came from. This weekend we plan on putting out a few mock scrapes using our Tink's Power Scrape and seeing what our new Stealth Cam Prowler trail cameras can pick up. I have a feeling we'll be pleasantly surprised the next time we check our trail cameras.  The Prowler shoots great HD videos so I'm excited to see what shows up.  As most of you know, scrapes are possibly the single best place to get a lot of photos/videos of the bucks in your particular area. 

The angle of this photo is deceiving, but with a few weeks left to grow I'm hoping this buck topped out well into the 140's, which makes him a shooter in my book.

Good luck to those of you who are heading out for October 1st this weekend. Remember to always wear your safety harness and shoot straight!


Stan Potts' First Velvet Whitetail

by Brenda Potts 18. September 2011 09:41
Brenda Potts

After more than 45 years of bowhunting, Stan finally got his first whitetail buck in velvet, and it is quite a trophy. With 16 scorable points, the basic framed 7 x 5 with 4 stickers, grosses 197 4/8 inches.

Four strategies came together to let Stan kill this buck. First, they had a couple photos on a trail camera that let them know the buck was on the property. Second, topo maps and aerial photos gave an indication of how the buck might be moving to and from bedding and food sources. Third, a small, early season, green field food plot located in a very secluded timber setting was key to catching this buck on his feet in daylight hours. And fourth, an unbelievable intuitive knowledge of big buck habits honed over many years of bowhunting, combined with confidence in the stand choice is what finally pulled it all together. This was a non-guided hunt on private property we just leased in western Kentucky. No outfitter was involved.

Stan and cameraman Barry Greenhaw went in a few days prior to the Kentucky bow opener to scout and learn the property. They had never been on this farm before and had only just recently closed the deal on the lease. They quickly hung 4 double stand sets for filming and tried not to disturb the property.

The KY bow season opened with super hot temps in the high 90s. They decided not to hunt at all the first day. On the second afternoon, t he temps weren't much better and they only saw a few deer from the stand that afternoon. Stan poured over the topo maps and aerial photos of the farm. They didn't want to spend time on foot going through the property any more than they had to for fear of putting the big buck off his pattern. He decided by looking at the maps the most logical place for the buck to be bedded was on some benches in a big drainage.  He predicted the buck would be using the drainage to go to and from a secluded green food plot.

The weather cooled off on Monday. The stand location they decided to hunt was nearly half a mile from where they had trail camera photos of the buck, but Stan felt sure the buck would eventually use the drainage to feed.

I drove them to the stand in a utility vehicle Monday afternoon. There were already does and fawn in the field and they scattered when we approached. I waited until they were in the treestands before pulling out of the field. Stan said it wasn't 10 minutes before they deer came back out. Eventually a doe got downwind of them and spooked all the deer out of the food plot. After 45 minutes Barry spotted a buck stepping out of the timber into the foot plot. It was the buck they were after!

A second buck a 150 class 10 pointer was with him. That deer was broadside at 20 yards for about 10 minutes but the buck Stan wanted most did not present a good shot. He was either quartering toward or behind, or in front of the other buck. Finally after what seemed like an eternity, but was probably more like 10 minutes, the buck began to move toward another one that had just appeared. This gave Stan the chance he had been waiting for. The shot was broadside at about 20 yards. With Mathews in hand he sent his broadhead to its mark and the deer didn't go far, going down in the timber. Footage from the hunt will be on Mathews Dominant Bucks TV (Outdoor Channel) and North American Whitetail TV (Sportsmen Channel) next year.



Conducting Your Own Trail Camera Survey

by Josh Fletcher 12. September 2011 12:59
Josh Fletcher

Conducting surveys and censuses on deer populations have been around for years. There are formulas such as the SAK formula, aerial surveys, track counts, spotlight surveys, and just recently with the popularity of game cameras, trail camera surveys to estimate a deer population for a given location.

Formulas such as the SAK formula or aerial surveys are often used by large ranches or state game agencies. Surveys such as track counts or spotlights surveys need open terrain and large tracks of property to be conducted on. However, with the development of the trail camera survey now you to conduct an estimate of deer population on your own property. Whether you own fifty acres or a thousand acres, you can utilize your trail camera data to give you a better idea of the deer population on your own property and providing better and more accurate information for managing your hunting area.

I first want to say that with all surveys they are an estimate, and there is no way to be 100% accurate, however they are accurate enough to provide a good data base for whitetail management. By using your trail cameras, not only can you identify possible trophy class bucks and travel routes, you can also estimate the buck age ratio, number of bucks, number of does, buck to doe ratio, fawns per doe ratio, and acres per deer. So stop deleting those pictures of small bucks, does, fawns and start estimating and tracking deer populations in your hunting area.

To begin the survey you will need a minimum of one game camera per 100 acres, however if you have more cameras for a smaller piece of property the more accurate your survey will be. For example, if you have 85 acres and four game cameras, you will have a better chance of a more accurate survey versus one camera for 100 acres. It doesn’t matter if you only own 20 acres; you too can run a very accurate deer population estimate on your property. The goal is to try and capture a photo of every deer that is on your property.

 The CamTracker MK-10 is an excellent trail camera with it's fast trigger speed to conduct a trail camera survey

 Experts recommend that you run your cameras for 14 days; however you can run your cameras longer to ensure a better chance of photographing the majority of deer in your hunting area. Next researchers recommend placing your cameras over bait or mineral sites to ensure photos of deer on the property. Keep in mind that results can very during certain times of the year. An example of this is a large acorn crop; most deer won’t abandon the acorns for corn.

If baiting or mineral sites are illegal in your area, you can utilize natural food sources such as food plots or fruit trees such as apple trees to capture photos of as many deer as you can on your property. 

Apple trees are excellent for conducting trail camera surveys if baiting is illegal in your area

Once your survey is over, begin by compiling all your photos. If you cannot positively identify a deer as a buck, doe or fawn, do not count it in the survey.
Count all the pictures that you have of bucks. It doesn’t matter if you are counting the same buck several times as this will be factored into the formula for gaining a doe count. Once you counted all the buck photos write that number down.

Next, out of your buck pictures count the number of individual bucks or unique bucks and write that number down. For example on my hunting property I had 19 pictures of bucks, out of these 19 pictures I have identified 9 different bucks.
Now you want to figure out the variable of “repeat offenders” or pictures of the same bucks. The reason you want to know this is to average the same idea for does. Since does are often harder to identify as being the same deer photographed, you want to figure out an idea of how many repeat bucks you have and to apply the same concept to does for a more accurate survey. This may seem confusing however is very simple. Just divide the total number of bucks by the number of unique bucks (individual bucks). An example is that I have 19 buck pictures divide that by the 9 unique bucks = 0.47 (pop. Facture) write that number down.
Now total up all the number of does you have pictures of. You will then divide your doe count by the pop. Facture. (The results of the buck division you just did earlier.)  An example is I had 24 does divided by 0.47 = 11.28 does.  I now know I have 9 bucks and 11.28 does utilizing my property during the given time frame I conducted the trail camera survey.
Now you want to figure out your fawn population. To do this count the numbers of fawns you have pictures of and divide that by your Pop. Facture just like you did with the does. For example, I had 18 pictures divided by my Pop. Facture of 0.47= 8.46 fawns on the property.

A healthy deer herd consists of a balanced buck to doe ratio

Now with the numbers complete, I now know I have an estimate of 9 bucks, 11 does and 8 fawns for my 85 acres.To figure out your buck to doe ratio for the property, divide the number of does by the number of bucks. I had 11.28 does divided by 9 bucks, gives me a ratio of 1.25 does per buck. Experts recommend a ratio close to 1:1.

To figure out your fawn to doe ratio simply divide your number of fawns by the number of does. I had 8.46 fawns divided by 11.28 does which gives me a ratio of 0.75 fawns per doe.

To figure out your acres per deer simply divide the amount of acres you have surveyed by your total population of deer. My hunting property is 85 acres divided by a total population of 28.74 which gives me 2.9 acres per deer for the property I hunt on.

My data for the trail camera survey looks like this:
9 individual bucks/ 19 total bucks = 0.47 (pop. Facture)
24 does/ 0.47 (pop. Facture) = 11.28 does
18 fawns/ 0.47 (pop. Facture) = 8.46 fawns
11.28 does / 9 bucks= 1.25 does per buck
8.46 fawns/ 11.28 does= 0.75 fawns per doe
85 acres/ 28.74 (total deer population) = 2.9 acres per deer
9 Bucks, 11 Does, 8 Fawns.
I know all these numbers are over whelming and seem complicated; however once you put your pen to paper you will see just how easy it is to conduct a trail camera survey on your property. Don’t just stop there. By doing trail camera surveys every month, you can track and watch as the deer population in your hunting area fluctuates throughout the year. By tracking this data allows you as a manager to analyze the reasons for the fluctuation for that given time of the year. It may be that the reason your deer population drops during the summer is because of the lack of warm season food source. If you notice this on your property, you might want to begin planting a warm season food source to hold deer on your property during the summer and early fall months. Doing these trail camera surveys gives you one more tool to better track and manage your hunting area.

With all surveys, the trail camera method is not 100 percent accurate; however is a very reliable source for information on your property. Also, all of the information that you are already gathering from your trail cameras can be utilized to conduct a trail camera survey. Have fun with it and utilize your trail cameras this year to better manage deer on your hunting property.

Meet ProStaff Member John Muellers Target Buck - Bakers Dozen

by John Mueller 18. August 2011 14:48
John Mueller

Well it took until the middle of August, but I finally got a MONSTER on one of my trail cameras. It had been a slow summer with only a few shooters and some 2 year old teaser bucks showing up on the trail cameras. That is until “Baker’s Dozen” showed up. He is truly a monster buck by anyone’s standards. He is a beautiful 12 pointer with a small sticker off his left G-2.

My jaw hit the floor when I saw these pictures.

I had put out my trail camera next to a soy bean field on a small farm close to home where I have permission to hunt. I’ve had a camera overlooking this area all summer hoping for a good buck to show up. While I did get a few bucks frequenting the area throughout the summer there wasn’t really a buck I wanted to shoot showing up here with any regularity. So on my way home from work one night I stopped and pulled the camera so I could hang it on a new farm I will be hunting this season. After I downloaded the pictures and found “Baker’s Dozen” on a few of them I wished I had left the camera there to see if he would be a regular visitor or if he was just passing through. But now I’m glad I didn’t leave it there. I plan on staying out of that area until the first time I hunt it, carrying my Lone Wolf climbing stand and setting up an ambush.

Here's another shot of "Baker's Dozen", my #1 target buck for 2011.

His rack actually makes his body look small in this picture.

My question is, where has this deer been all summer and why hasn’t he showed up before now? I could see if it was the rut and he was traveling all over searching for hot does but this is the middle of the summer and I always thought that bucks were pretty much home bodies this time of year. He has everything he needs right in the immediate area. There is a soybean field 10 yards away and a small pond less than 100 yards through the woods, plus there are good bedding areas located nearby too. A storm went through this area and blew down a lot of trees making a jungle out a good chunk of the woods.

I wish he would have posed a little better and stood still.

I’ll admit it I will be spending a good deal of time hunting this buck. Unfortunately this is a small property so I have to be careful not to over hunt it and push him off of it if he is using it at least part of the time. I wish I could go back there and glass the soybean field from a distance, but there is no way to get far enough away to not be at risk of getting detected. So I guess I’ll just plan my hunts like he is hanging out there. I’ll probably hunt it a few times early in the season trying to catch him headed out to the beans. They should be green for a while, they are wheat stubble beans. Then I’ll spend a few all day sits during the rut, when this type of deer is in his most vulnerable state, looking for love.

Wish me luck!

Preseason Bowhunting Preparations

by Neal McCullough 31. July 2011 15:07
Neal McCullough

Tomorrow is August 1st and as the summer finally winds down this month, I’ll be ramping up my preparations for the impending hunting season.  If you’re a hunter like me, the anticipation—and the accompanying scheduling, strategizing and planning—is almost as exciting as the season itself. 

Of course, preparation for the upcoming season starts way before August.  I spent some time this June and July creating Monster Raxx mineral sites—in my hunting spots in Minnesota and Wisconsin—and strategically placing trail cameras around these sites.  Recently, I’ve had time to check my various trail camera locations and have been pleased to see that some of the bucks I was chasing last year, along with some new ones, that are showing up on my cameras. 

This "High-Brow" buck showed up on my CamTrakker on July 17, 2011

These next few weeks leading up to opening day will definitely give me an idea of what big deer I’ll have a chance at this season as I continue to check my trail cameras in different locations.

Monster Raxx mineral sites have been extremely effective for me this year.

Apart from all the time I spent collecting vital information on the deer in my properties, I’ve also spent time working on fine-tuning my new Matthews Z7 Extreme to tightening my shot groups at 20, 30, 40 and even 50 yards.  I have always liked the advice to "practice at 50 yards so 25 yards feels like a chip shot" when getting my bow ready for the season. I have spent a few afternoons doing this very thing at a local target range near my house. With my sight pins adjusted and I am very close to being “dialed-in” for the 2011 season (most years my goal is to be ready August 1 - this year is no exception). 


Real Avid's "Toolio" makes bow tuning fast and easy; here I am adjusting my site pins while target shooting. 

As if the anticipation of whitetail opener wasn’t enough to fill up my August, on the 15th of this month, we’ll be heading to Wyoming to hunt Pronghorn Antelope.  This will definitely be a new experience for me; I’m excited for the new challenges that this hunt will bring—from the open terrain to hunting a new quarry—it should be a great adventure.  We’ll be capturing the hunt on film, so for those of you who follow the Bowhunt or Die webisodes, check back at the end of August to see how our inaugural antelope hunt turned out.  

I may not have any trail cameras on Wyoming Antelope; but this southeastern MN buck has my attention.

Good luck with your preseason scouting and hopefully your seasons are successful.

See you in the woods,
Neal McCullough

Buckscore REVIEW - Scoring your Trophy Buck from Home

by Josh Fletcher 20. July 2011 16:30
Josh Fletcher

After reading on about a new program available on the market for both deer hunters and wildlife managers, that could score a buck just from a picture, I just had to take a closer look.  The program is called Buckscore.

Buckscore was developed by the Mississippi State University’s Deer Ecology and Management Laboratory. The program has a data base of known measurements from deer around the country, such as ear width and eyeball diameter. From those base measurements, Buckscore can be used to measure the total amount of antler from a picture. The program states that it is most accurate on deer antler positions from three angles. The picture can be analyzed from a buck that is 0 degrees, 45 degrees, and 90 degrees.
To use the Buckscore program you download the picture of the buck you want to score. From there select what state the picture of the buck was taken from and approximate age if known. Then select the known measurement that you want to use that all measurements are compared from. An example is the width of the buck’s ear. By selecting Wisconsin as the state the program uses known deer ear width from the area of Wisconsin. Once the known measurement is taken you are now ready to begin scoring your buck. The tutorial on the side of the program walks you through the locations on the buck’s antlers to click your mouse to retrieve measurements for scoring your buck. If you cannot see a particular tine or cannot tell from the photo where a tine begins or ends, you have the option of clicking the mirror tab that uses the same measurement from the other side of the buck’s antlers. An example is that you can see the buck’s right side G3 but not the left, by clicking this tab it will take the right G3 and use that measurement for the left G3. After measuring all the given locations the program then asks if the deer you just scored is in velvet or not. Select your answer and soon the total score of your buck if given in a form showing B&C or P&Y, it also shows the net score along with the gross score of your buck.

This is a good quality photo for an accurate score from the Buckscore

(This program scored this buck at 152.06" Typical Gross Score)

After researching this program from the Buckscore web site I decided to download the program and give it a try. By clicking on the website button to buy the program it charged me just under $20.00 for the down load. I then followed the tutorial to begin downloading the program straight from their web site. On my laptop I am running the Windows7 software and had no troubles down loading the program. is also able to be downloaded by other types of software.  The whole process from start to finish took me around fifteen minutes. To explain how easy this was I must first tell you my computer knowledge is near zero and computer back ground is at a big zero, so as the saying goes, if I can do it so can you.

My first test of this program was to see just how accurate it really is at scoring bucks. Now, I first want to tell you that the program only works for whitetail bucks. I loaded a picture of a buck that I already knew the score of and that was the buck I shot last fall. I used a picture that was taken of me holding the buck and it was not from a game camera. The reason for this was to provide the best quality picture to test on the scoring. After several minutes of taking measurements, I was given the final score. was off by less than two inches from what I received from the tape measure. I then scored a buck that my friend had shot last year; this buck was off by just over three inches from what the actual tape measurement was. I’m not sure how particular you are, but for me this type of accuracy is very impressive just from a picture.

Here is an example of a poor quality photo that is hard to score

After using this program for some time now and scoring numerous bucks I have noticed that I am learning better judgment on where to begin measuring from the picture to achieve more accurate results. I will say that a greater error will happen if the picture that you are scoring is of poor quality and if you cannot see all of the tines. A poor quality photo may also make it more difficult to be able to tell where one point begins and ends, making it difficult to measure. You can score bucks that are not at the three previous mentioned angles however your score may slightly be off of what the buck actually scores. To get the most accurate score I would recommend scoring several different photos of the same buck and comparing the differences if at all possible. I also want to note that when I am talking about your score being off, I am talking about only several inches. Basically you may have a photo of a buck that’s real score is 167” but the program states it is 165”. In my eyes this is very accurate from just a picture. The other neat part about this program is that I have my friends email me pictures of bucks that they want scored by and I can score it for them with in several minutes.
This program will not kill you bigger bucks, however, has many benefits. First is that it helps with the famous ground shrinkage. We have all experienced it, the buck appears bigger right before you take the shot however when you walk up on your prize he just isn’t as big as you thought. The other part is that pictures can be deceiving. We have all seen it or have been a part of the famous trophy fish photo, where you hold the fish closer to the camera to get it away from the fisherman’s body to make the fish look bigger. Trail cam photos can do the same thing with bucks; the buck can look much bigger on the trail cam photo than he really is. My brother Clint and I were victims of this last fall. I had several pictures of a buck that we know as the kicker buck. By looking at the trail cam pictures we estimated him to be in the 130” range. During the rut Clint was able to harvest this buck and when we walked up on him we realized he was much smaller than the picture made him look. Now don’t get me wrong, he was a good buck and Clint was very proud to have taken him, however if we would have had this program last year we would have known before the shot opportunity that he was smaller than what we judged him by the picture.
By utilizing the Buckscore program you can “pre classify” the bucks on your property prior to actually laying eyes on them with great accuracy. Also by being able to score bucks right from your computer you are better able to learn what a true 130” buck looks like and so forth allowing you to improve your skills at scoring bucks on the hoof.

The Buckscore program is also great for analyzing the quality of bucks that are utilizing your property. The program allows you to track the bucks that you score for an analysis of bucks on your property. By this I mean that if you score thirty different bucks, the program lists the score class of the bucks so you can see the percentage of a particular class of bucks on your property. With proper management and habitat improvement your goal may be to see an increase in 120” class bucks one year and then an increase of 130” class the next. This program allows you to track this information about your property.

This buck is not at the three angles recommended by the program, causing the results to vary

(This buck scored 149.46" Typical Gross Score by the Buckscore program)

The last reason I would encourage the use of the Buckscore program is that it is just plain old fun to use. It’s exciting to get out into the woods and check your trail cam for big buck pictures, now you can take that picture home and put a score to that buck of a life time. This program doesn’t need a picture taken from just a trail camera, you can use pictures that you personally have taken or even use a freeze framed clip from your own video, save it as a picture and then basically score the buck from a video. Now if that big boy walks just outside of your bow range you can still video him and then score him without ever firing a shot. This can be good or bad because it may make that missed opportunity hurt just that much more.

Listed below are the pros and cons to the Buckscore program;

• Easy to down load from the website using Windows7
• Able to be downloaded using other types of software
• Allows for great practice on field judging bucks on the hoof (no more guessing)
• Program is set up to be able to analyze the class of bucks on your property
• Helps to minimize ground shrinkage
• Accurately score bucks to be placed in a “harvest class”
• Plain old fun to score bucks that you have captured on your trail camera
• It is very accurate at scoring whitetail bucks, with in just several inches
• Bucks can be scored in velvet and the program accounts for the velvet.
• Keeps your hunting buddies much more honest when they email you a photo

• Poor photos can cause a greater error with accuracy
• The most accurate measurements are taken from three angles: 0, 45, and 90 degrees
• It can cause missing the buck of a life time hurt that much more knowing what he really scores
• If you’re the exaggerating hunting buddy emailing the photo

After utilizing the Buckscore program I must say I am very pleased with it. Yes it is not 100% accurate, but nothing will ever be unless you actually put your hands on his antlers. For just taking measurement from a photo I am more than pleased with being off by only several inches and believe that this program given a good quality picture is very accurate. For less than $20.00 this product is definitely worth a try.

Armchair Whitetail Scouting

by Steve Flores 21. March 2011 13:16
Steve Flores

Flying under the whitetail radar, while effectively locating your next trophy from the comfort of your own home, is actually easier than it sounds using these three steps.

Record Books
They may not have the glitz and glamour compared to other methods used to uncover whitetail hotspots, but don’t kid yourself regarding their value.  If properly utilized, record books are the next best thing to someone actually telling you where the whitetail hotspots are located.  You see, most individuals are reluctant to reveal their exact whereabouts when they experience any type of consistent success; especially when hunting on public land, and without a doubt if the animal is of Pope and Young caliber.  However, upon entering their trophy into the record books, they must at least divulge the general area of the harvest.  And that is where this entire process begins. 

Another good source of information is your local taxidermist. They are witness to a large variety of bucks and usually know the exact details of the kill. (i.e. harvest data: time, date, location)

Searching through the most recent edition of P&Y records will ultimately tell you (among other things), where the best bucks is being taken.  Finding a hotspot is as easy as calculating the total number of entries for any given county within the state you are researching.  Obviously, when you find a county that is consistently producing a high number of record class bucks, then that is where you will most likely want to concentrate your efforts.

Topo Maps
When using the lay of the land as a guide for stand placement, whether you’re in an entirely new spot or on very familiar hunting ground, the first thing you need to do is realize there are 2 types of terrain features….Positive and Negative.  Both will influence deer movement.  Your job is to utilize the clues found on your topo map to determine which types your area holds and how the deer are going to respond to them.  Then, act accordingly.


Don’t dismiss the amount of information contained in a topo map. Take your time and study one of your area before actually walking in on foot to further investigate.

When looking at your map, try to find negative terrain features that funnel deer movement into a pinch point.  For example, a small drain possessing steep side-hills that eventually turn into gradual slopes near the top is an excellent illustration of how negative terrain can funnel and influence deer movement.  Ideally, any deer moving through the area will most likely cross near the top, where the slope is not as radical.  An actual observation of the land should reveal heavy trails at the top which will coincide with the “widely spaced” contour lines from your topo map. For the most part deer are lazy and will often take the path of least resistance; as long as it provides them with the safety needed to get from point A to point B. Use this behavior to your advantage when thinking about possible stand locations.

Positive terrain features on the other hand will include, but not limit themselves to: ridge-top saddles, shallow creek crossings, overgrown logging roads, bench flats, and/or gradually sloping hollows.  In the past, I have set up in saddles discovered using only a topo map and long range observation, and struck pay-dirt my first time in the stand; mainly due to a bucks tendency to use a low lying saddle when crossing over a ridge in order to prevent sky-lining himself. 

Scouting Cameras
You should already have a good idea about where you are going to hang your camera based on the info (lay of the land) gathered from your maps.  Within that chosen area, consider setting up your camera near recently discovered “pinch points”.  Ideally, you’ll want to be set up in high traffic areas; somewhere near bedding/feeding locations or along the transition routes in between. However, if you are unfamiliar with the locale, it may take a little more investigating to discover such places.


Scouting cameras are your eyes when you are not there. Set them up in the right locations and they can pay off in a big way.

  Not only can game cameras reveal travel patterns of target bucks known to frequent your area, they can also provide evidence of NEW bucks that have moved in for any number of reasons. 

While conducting your search, look for heavily used trails leading to pinch points that choke deer movement into a confined area; increasing the likelihood that you will capture useful images.  Remember though, that the overall goal is to remain under the whitetails radar, so try to conduct your camera hanging/scouting before the season starts.  Also, do your best to get the camera location right the first time in order to avoid disturbing the area any more than what is absolutely necessary.  If you have thoroughly studied your maps, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Finding a good location to hang your treestand will be much easier having followed these three tips......

and the rewards will be well worth it!

Locating your next trophy without tipping your hand can be difficult to say the least.  However, with a little more homework, and a lot less footwork, you can accomplish far more than you thought possible.  Remember to utilize the information found in record books and harvest reports to get you headed in the right direction.  Then, obtain a topographic map of the area and study it as if your life depended on it. Lastly, go in and hang a scouting camera based on positive and negative terrain features and see if your hunch was right.  My bet is you will be going back very soon to hang a stand. Good luck and God Bless!











Closure on a Whitetail Buck

by Steve Flores 6. February 2011 15:46
Steve Flores

I felt it on the very last play of my high school football career. I could feel it as I walked across the stage to receive my college degree. It was a sense that an important part of my life had ended, and a new chapter was about to begin. It was finality… was closure. Thankfully, I have been blessed to experience closure in many different areas of life. Closure is good. It adds conclusiveness to the situation at hand and allows us to move on with other areas of our life. However, it is like a thorn under our skin when we don’t have it. And that thorn, it seems, never goes away.

So what does all of this have to do with bowhunting? Well, a close friend recently brought closure to a story that began several months ago. Actually, it all started in the fall of 2006 when a scouting camera revealed that a very nice buck was occupying the area my friend was hunting in. However, four long years would pass before the two would meet on a cold November day in 2010.

On that fateful day, while others were gathering around the table to partake in Thanksgiving Day festivities, Mark was busy trying to stay warm in his favorite treestand. With plans made to celebrate the day after Thanksgiving, he opted to head to the timber for a chance at the one buck who had eluded him for so long. Although, after several hours in the lonely stand, bitter cold finally forced my friend to the ground in hopes that a little still-hunting might warm him up as well as offer a shooting opportunity at one of the resident bucks.

Walking along an abandoned logging road, Mark happened to catch a glimpse of movement just 20 yards above him on an adjacent flat that ran parallel to his position. After a closer look, he realized it was a doe. Pondering the situation, he decided to fill his freezer and balance the herd at the same time. Coming to full draw, Mark was about to release his arrow when again, something caught his eye.

Looking beyond the unaware doe, he quickly spotted a set of antlers. Situated further back on the flat than her, it was unclear just how good this buck was, but Mark knew it was a good one. Quickly letting down his bow, he waited for a better look at the buck that was shadowing his initial target.

When the bruiser finally did reveal itself, it was obvious he was a trophy. And so the chess match began. It wasn’t until my friend had stalked along with the rutting pair for a good 100 yards or so that a shot opportunity presented itself. And then….the unthinkable happened. Mark missed! Fearing the buck was about to bolt just as he came to full draw, the shot was rushed and his razor tipped arrow found nothing but dirt. Immediately the pair scampered away.

Discouraged, but determined not to give up, he quickly followed behind. It took a while, but my friend finally managed to work himself into position for a second shot! This time the range was a bit further, 40 yards or so. Upon releasing the bow string, Mark watched as his arrow struck the buck farther back behind the ribs than he would have preferred. To this day he is still unsure what went wrong. “The first time I missed him I just plain choked” he said. “But the second shot felt good from start to finish. I’m not really sure what caused that arrow to impact where it did”.

Nonetheless, he had just shot the biggest buck of his life and it wasn’t the best shot either. But, spirits were lifted after a short search revealed some good blood on the ground. Continuing to look for a brief time, Mark held hope that something good was going to happen. However, the rollercoaster that is bowhunting quickly threw a major decent into the ride as the heartbroken hunter bumped the trophy buck from his bed; watching him bound away for the last time.

Days passed by, Holidays came and left, friends joined in the search, but still there was no trace of Mark’s buck-of-a-lifetime. To make matters worse, it always seemed that when a spare moment was found during his busy workweek, snow was always on the ground; making recovery efforts even more difficult. Then, after weeks of horrible conditions, the weather finally broke, snow melted away, and the forest floor was revealed.

Quickly, Mark headed out to find his buck. Within 10 minutes of his search, there lying peacefully among a blanket of dead leaves and twigs, my friend found what he was looking for. He found his closure. Weeks of sleepless nights and days and days of “what ifs” had finally come to an end. Congratulations Mark on harvesting a tremendous, Southern WV buck. God knows you earned it.

Day 6 PlotWatcher Pro- NEW for 2011!

by Bow Staff 3. February 2011 01:58
Bow Staff

2011 Day 6 PlotWatcher Pro

The original Day 6 PlotWatcher time-lapse video camera was a game changer no doubt, but the new PlotWatcher Pro hits it out of the park. With four times the battery life and a 2.5" LCD for on-board camera set-up, video aiming and camera status messages, the PlotWatcher Pro will put you that much closer to getting that trophy buck you so desire.

The PlotWatcher Pro is not a traditional trail camera. In fact, traditional trail cameras with time-lapse features pail in comparison to the PlotWatcher Pro. There are three very important design criteria for a time-lapse camera -- long battery life, the ability to support tens or hundreds of thousands of images and good picture quality in low light conditions without a flash. This is because some of the most important scenery for a timelapse camera is happening right at dawn or dusk, out of reach of a flash.
Traditional trail cameras are optimized for large megapixel counts, continuous motion detection and energy-efficient flashes. The design choices to make a good quality trail camera are simply not the same design choices to make a high quality time-lapse camera such as the PlotWatcher Pro.

Like the original PlotWatcher, the PlotWatcher Pro uses time-lapse video technology to record high-definition images taking a picture every 5 or 10 seconds and saving these individual pictures as an HD video. So whether the animal is 30 feet away or 330 feet away, you'll see them on the video. Essentially, the PlotWatcher Pro records what you would have seen if you'd been scouting that same spot for all of that time.

In addition, the PlotWacher Pro accepts add-on zoom lenses, features temperature and moon-phase info on each image, uses an SD card storage, is security cable ready and saves video files in ½ of the memory space. It also features defined time-of-day for video start and stop.

The GameFinder video player software, free with the PlotWatcher Pro, gives you the ability to watch an entire 12-hour day's worth of video in just a few minutes.

To learn more about this new PlotWatcher Pro take a look for them on the web.


Categories: Current News

Illinois Doe With Antlers?

by Dan Schafer 28. November 2010 15:22
Dan Schafer

Last time down in Illinois Johnny checked one of the trail cameras on the outside of our property.  When we looked at the pictures, we were surprised to find this "buck" in full velvet on November 13th.  After a closer look, it appears it could be a doe with antlers.  The small neck and the doe behind it lead us to believe it is not a buck.

I'd love to hear your opinions!



Another Slow Weekend - Will Persistence Pay Off?

by Justin Zarr 8. November 2010 14:43
Justin Zarr

For the three of you who follow my blog posts you may know that I've been having some tough luck here in the suburbs of Northern Illinois.  Heading into this past weekend I've only made it out for a total of 5 sits with a grand total of zero deer sightings.  However, with some good bucks on my trail cameras I am determined to stick it out until the bitter end.  Either I'll end my season with my second Illinois buck or I'm going to die trying!

With November finally here I decided it would be a good idea to use some of that vacation time I've been saving up for a three day weekend.  Friday morning brought some unusually cold temps down into the low 20's so I figured the deer would be on their feet.  About an hour after light I finally caught sight of my first Lake County deer as two does stepped out of the thick timber into a small opening.  Although they were only does it sure felt good to see some deer!

This yearling doe stood in front of me feeding on grass and leaves for 10 to 15 minutes on Sunday morning.  If my freezer wasn't already full she might not have just gotten her picture taken!

Over the course of the next 3 days I hunted just about as hard and as smart as I could but only managed to see a bunch more does and some 1 1/2 year old bucks running around.  The big bucks still seem to be hanging low.  I'm not entirely sure if I just don't know what I'm doing, if the moon times kept their movement subdued during daylight, or if someone is just playing tricks on me and walking some pen-raised deer in front of my cameras when I'm not there!

If this guy was only about 3 years older and had an extra 150 inches of antler on his head....

Although I didn't see any good bucks this weekend I will consider this a big step in the right direction.  I saw deer on all 6 of my trips to the woods this weekend, which was a much needed confidence booster.  That, coupled with a familiar face (or rack?) showing up on my trail camera recently has renewed my drive to fill my 2nd tag with a suburban bruiser before it's all said and done.

"Big Mac" showed up on my camera several times over the past couple of weeks.  I got photos of this buck for the first time last December but never found any sheds or saw sign of him until he showed up in late October.  He is currently the #1 buck on my hit list.

My quest for a suburban whitetail will have to wait for awhile though, as I'll be heading down to West central, IL this weekend with my buddy Jeremy.  He's still looking for this first buck with a bow and I'll be hard at it looking for a true Illinois giant.  If one steps in front of me my suburban quest may be put on hold until next year, but I suppose there's worse ways to end your season.  With great moon times and a cold front moving in on Friday it looks like our chances are pretty good, so you never know what might happen.  The rut in Illinois is a wonderful thing!  If not, I'll return home to continue my quest the following weekend.  The once nice thing about the 'burbs is that they are bow-only which means I get to keep chasing these deer with archery tackle while the orange army takes to the woods.

Good luck once again to everyone who is still chasing their dream, whatever it may be.  Remember to hunt hard, hunt safe, and have some fun out there!

The Perfect Trail Camera Picture?

by Dan Schafer 12. October 2010 03:39
Dan Schafer

You never think of a trail camera taking the perfect picture.  The quality is usually pretty good on the new cameras, but not magazine cover worthy. 

Every year I get easily 10,000 plus pictures and finally have one I would consider the perfect picture.  Centered nearly perfectly, this big woods Canadian buck looks as if he was posing for my DLC Covert Assassin II



Do you have what you would consider a perfect trail camera picture?  If so, we would love to see them!  Email them to

Illinois Bowhunting Season - The Start of Another Year!

by Justin Zarr 30. September 2010 02:25
Justin Zarr

Fall is definitely in the air here in Northern Illinois.  The leaves are beginning to turn shades of red, orange and yellow, much of the corn and soybeans has already been harvested and there's a distinct chill in the morning air.  Ah yes, fall has finally arrived!

Tomorrow marks the first day of Illinois' nearly 3 1/2 month archery season and with cool weather, a good moon phase, and the right wind conditions I have a feeling there's going to be some happy bowhunters this weekend. 

My bowhunting time this weekend is going to be fairly limited, but I'm going to try and make the most of it.  Tomorrow morning with North and Northwest Winds predicted I'll be heading out to a stand I recently hung close to a fence crossing where I found some really good buck sign.  Early season buck sign that's concentrated in thick areas usually means that the buck making the sign is living pretty close by, so I'm hoping to catch him coming back to his bedroom after a night of feeding.

I have a feeling that the buck making the sign is this one I've dubbed "Mac".  He's the best buck I've gotten on my trail camera on this particular farm, and these photos were taken only about 300 yards from where my stand is set up.  I believe I have trail camera photos of this buck from last year as a 2 1/2 year old 7 point.  Granted, he's not a giant by Illinois standards but for this farm he's a good buck.

Provided we got a good wind direction on Sunday I'll going into another farm after this buck I've nicknamed "Pistol Pete".  (I've watched I Love You Man too many times, I know).  Another good 3 1/2 year old buck, he's been the most frequent visitor on my trail camera all summer and seems to be coming by right at dark heading towards a cut corn field.  I'm hoping this cooler weather will have him moving a little earlier.  I have a natural ground blind set up about 20 yards beyond where these photos were taken so if anything comes by in the daylight I should be able to get a shot.

I've also got another buck named "Tank Johnson" that I'll be looking for this fall.  He's a big bodied hog of a deer and I think he's living on the same farm as Pistol Pete so who knows - maybe he'll make the mistake of wandering by on Sunday afternoon much to the chagrin of my NAP Bloodrunner.

With any luck I'll get a look at one of these three bucks this weekend, and if I'm really lucky I might even get a shot, who knows.  For now my clothes are washed, bow is in it's case, stands are hung and I'm ready for the 3 month marathon that is the Illinois bowhunting season to begin!

Good luck to everyone who is heading out this weekend.  Make sure you wear your safety harness!

DLC Covert II Assassin Trail Camera Review

by Dan Schafer 9. September 2010 15:16
Dan Schafer

Over the last five years it seems I have owned nearly every brand of trail camera out there. Well, not quite, but I’ve been around the block. Some have been pretty decent, while others I wouldn’t even give a second look at.

This Summer I decided to order five new DLC Covert II Assassin cameras with bear boxes. When they arrived, the first thing I noticed was the small size of the camera. After my previous purchases of larger cameras, this was a relief. Of course, I couldn’t wait to get some batteries in and set it up to see what the quality of pictures would be like. When I opened up the battery compartment to the camera the battery slots were all labeled AAA but the package said it ran on 8 AA batteries. After a few seconds it was clear that it was a misprint in the camera and it indeed did run on AA batteries.

After a quick look at the owner's manual I was ready to plug in the little remote that is used for set up. It only took a couple of minutes to master setting the time and setting the options just the way I wanted them. One of the things I noticed during the programming is the number options there were. I was amazed that you could set the picture spacing down to just one second or all the way up to 60 minutes. The one, two or three shot bursts are also very handy to have, as well as a video option, which I am just starting to use.

A small remote is included with the purchase of every DLC Covert II camera, and is used for programming your settings of choice into the unit before placing it out in the field.

Like a kid I had to get one of these out in the field for a test run, so I grabbed a bear box, a couple of screws, the camera and headed down the road. Attaching the bear box to the tree was a breeze with the two screws and the camera fits in it just perfect. I’m not worried about theft here, so I just used a wire to keep the bears from getting lucky and opening it up, though I doubt they could. If you were worried about theft, it would be simple to just throw a padlock on it.


After letting it sit a few days, I had to check the pictures. When I popped the 2GB SD card into the computer I was very pleased on the range of the IR lights, the night pictures and the clarity of the daytime pictures.


Over the last 6 weeks and checking the cameras multiple times, I am also very impressed with the battery life. One particular camera has around 4000 pictures and the battery meter on the remote still reads full. I’ve also noticed that I get very few pictures of nothing. With previous cameras I have owned, there was a tendency to get a lot of blank pictures. With the Covert, the only time I get a few is in extreme wind.

Overall I am very impressed with this camera and would not hesitate to buy another 5 more or to recommend them to anyone. The camera size, battery life, picture quality and ease of use are a welcome relief.

BuckScore Download will take the Guessing Game Away!

by Bow Staff 29. July 2010 16:08
Bow Staff

Expect BuckScore to score points with deer hunters!

Ever sit on your PC late at night studying the images of countless bucks you captured on camera? Ever wonder what each buck scores? Sure you can guess. Sure you could have a friend guess. But wouldn’t it be great to really know? Read below and STOP the guessing game.

Introducing BuckScore, a downloadable program developed by two professors from the Mississippi State University’s Deer Ecology and Management Lab, along with a graduate-researcher, over a three year period. Using known measurements for average deer ear widths, eyeball widths, and measurable facial features such as the eye-to-eye distance, these researchers developed equations to assess the antlers in inches using the Boone and Crockett scoring system.

BuckScore can even estimate the antlers' inside spread, main beam lengths and gross score simply from photographs. And is accurate whether the antlers are in their summer "velvet" or hard-horned.

Simply upload a buck’s digital image into your PC and use the tracing tool to outline the antlers. Within moments hunters will get an accurate estimate of the antlers total score!!

Without BuckScore this hunters estimate was off by less than one-inch! With it, he decided the buck was big enough to take after all! Thanks BuckScore!

BuckScore Pro is expected to be available as a $10 download at their website before the Labor Day holiday. It is expected that a percentage of the sales will go to Mississippi State University, and 25% of that will go specifically to its deer research lab. BuckScore is also teaming up with Bushnell scouting cameras to allow a free download with purchase of some of their products.

While the software will first be offered for Windows-based computers only, a Mac version will shortly follow. A BuckScore application is even in the works for both iPhones and iPads and is expected to be available this January.

So take the guessing game out of your favorite trailcamera photos, or just bust the chops of your co-workers and friends. Look for the BuckScore download and start telling the truth about what you really saw!


Categories: Bowhunting Blogs

ScoutGuard SG560 Trail Camera Review - Part 1

by Bow Staff 11. July 2010 15:27
Bow Staff

It was only just a few years ago when the first ScoutGuard cameras started to make their way onto an already busy trail camera market. The first time many of us saw this new little innovation we were likely to fall into two categories. We either were excited to see what such a small camera could do, or totally presumed this was another hunting gimmick. It didn’t take long however for the whole world of hunting to realize what we should get excited about. ScoutGuard’s first cameras took great photos, had a quick trigger speed, were relatively inexpensive, and because of their small size became less likely to walk away from us. In short, they gained rave reviews.

This year ScoutGuard is releasing the NEW SG560 5 megapixel scouting camera. This camera is not necessarily trying to altogether corner the entire market, but rather, to improve upon some of the few shortcomings on the previous ScoutGuard SG550 model.  The staff here at got a chance to take it out for a spin. Here’s our honest REVIEW and our first impressions on ScoutGuard’s NEWest little guy, the SG560.

First, it’s small, about the size of the previous SG550 model (roughly 5-1/2 x 3-1/2 inches). Perfect for locating this camera on smaller diameter trees like black cherry, crabapple, sumac, and buckthorn. Common trees we find here in the smaller farmland woodlots and marsh edges of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. The image sensor is a full 5 mega pixels, with a programmable option for just 3. This means clearer pictures, and we can see the difference when viewing our daylight images already. Like with any IR camera the nighttime images are not near as sharp, but compared with the previous Scoutguard 550 model or even the comparably priced Cuddeback, they are definitely a noticeable step-up.

The small size of the Scoutguard camera makes it ideal for blending into the woods and hiding from both trespassers and deer.

Because we all know that better battery life means longer camera stays in the field, the SG560, much like its predecessor, comes complete with a programmable remote. This device is what gives these camera’s batteries so much more life than its biggest competitors.  By not having them waste that energy on their components while in the woods the batteries are able to run for a longer period of time. Once you are done programming your preferences, you simply unplug it and let the simple operations of the camera do their work. Your batteries should easily take you into the next few months (so we’re told).

If you’ve never used a ScoutGuard trailcam, we admit, at first it can seem like a daunting task when looking over the included 34 page manual on operating the remote and its programmable features. Rest assured though, if you can operate a DVD player, it’s a breeze. In fact, we never even read the manual (what guy ever does?).  The helpful icons on the remote make it practically fool proof.

The included remote is a breeze to use. Unplug it once you've finished setting your preferences and save battery life!

Perhaps what our staff was most excited about was the SG560’s promise of a 1.2 second response time, which is a light year above some cameras in the same price range but just a hair faster than the SG550 (1.3 seconds). Simply, this is what hunters want, quick trigger speed so we stop getting those Boone and Crockett whitetail butts. Let’s face it, nothing is worse!

Out of nearly 280 photos taken in the past 4 weeks we’ve had the 560 out, we only had 1 butt shot (two if you include the one of our wandering staffer). Considering roughly 90% of those shots had deer in them- yeah, we think it did its job. The other 10% of the shots you ask? Well, we programmed the camera to a normal sensory level with the remote, and suffice to say, it’s very sensitive. Yes, you will get shots of moving branches and/or grass on those windy days. But don’t worry, the camera’s sensitivity can be programmed for a low or even a high sensory level. So you guys living in Oklahoma are pre-warned.

Our camera's continuous shooting preferences were set for 3 images. As you can see this super-spike was never alerted to it's presence.

The lonely doe above was more than 30 feet away when she set off our Scoutguard!

The one flaw we did see with the SG560 images was the advertised 10 meter IR-flash (seemed more like 6 meters), which is what the camera uses in lowlight or night time photos. This, needless to say, is when BIG bucks actually move. With just a 10 meter flash (30 feet ), you might be missing details which are nice to see on a buck’s head if say… he were standing broadside at 11 meters. We understand however, that by increasing this flash you’re now out of the $200 price tag and playing with the big boys at $400. But an entire overworked Bowhunting.Com staff can dream, can’t they?

In IR mode, the camera produced better images than similiarly priced trailcameras but we still would like to have seen an improvement on greater flash distance.

Overall, we have been greatly impressed with the picture quality of this new ScoutGuard. It's ease of operation was helpful (especially for our less astute staffers) and the sensitivity was excellent. The night time IR flash could have been better, but the images were an improvement over the SG550 and/or similarly priced trail cams. Because the camera is currently still in the field, this REVIEW will conclude once all 8 AA batteries have drained entirely. This second part will also include the always anticipated video review from the camera. Please look for it within the next couple weeks. Until then, we leave you nerdy types with some of the more important Scoutguard SG560 specifications.

Scoutguard SG560 Technical Specifications.

Image Sensor – Micron 5MP CMOS Color
Largest Pixel Size – 2560x1920 at 5MB; 2048x1536 at 3MB
Lens – F=3.0; FOV=55; Auto IR-Cut-Remove (at night)
IR-Flash – 10m
Memory – Supports SD-card from 8MB to 2GB
Video Size – 640x480 at 16 fps
Motion Sensor – PIR with 3 sensitivity level; High/Low/Normal
Response Time – 1.2 seconds
Camera Delays – 1 sec. – 60 min. Programmable
Video Length – 1 – 60 seconds
Power Supply – 4xAA or up to 8AA batteries for longer life
User interface – Wired LCD remote control with keyboard
Interface – TV out; USB; SD card; 6V DC external

Look for Part 2 of the ScoutGuard SG560 REVIEW coming soon (Once the batteries on our model wear out). This second Part will also include a REVIEW on this cameras video!

Scoutguard SG560 REVIEW – Part II (COMING SOON).

Categories: Bowhunting Blogs

Introducing The Day 6 Plotwatcher; A Different Kind of Trail Camera!

by Bow Staff 30. June 2010 13:39
Bow Staff

The Day 6 PlotWatcher Takes the Guessing
Out of Your Hunt!

For many years, trail cameras have provided hunters with information about the deer and turkey populations on the property they hunt. They've given hunters an idea of the numbers and age-class of the animals in the area. Now there's a camera that can do much more.

The PlotWatcher Time Lapse Video Camera is not a traditional camera. It's in a class of its own. The PlotWatcher videos daytime game activity around potential hunting locations several days leading up to your hunt. When you review the footage, you can see what you would have had you been sitting there yourself. Using the information the video provides, you can make an educated decision on when you should hunt and which spot offers you the best opportunity.

Unlike traditional trail camers, the PlotWatcher doesn't rely on a motion-activated or heat-sensing trigger to work. Therefore, animals don't need to be close to the camera in order for it to take their picture. The PlotWatcher uses time-lapse video technology to record high-definition images. It takes a picture every 5 to 10 seconds and saves these individual pictures as an HD video. The GameFinder video player software comes free with the PlotWatcher and has been developed to give you the ability to watch an entire day's video in just a few minutes.  For optimum performance and to preserve your camera battery's life, use a Windows® ReadyBoost™ compatible USB drive.

The PlotWatcher eliminates the guess work putting the odds of success in your favor. You'll know what spots you should hunt and the best time to hunt them. After using the Day 6 PlotWatcher Time-Lapse Video Camera, you'll wonder how you ever got a long without it.


Categories: Bowhunting Blogs

Reconyx Hyperfire HC500 Trail Camera | First Impressions

by Bow Staff 2. May 2010 16:10
Bow Staff

In 2002 Reconyx burst onto the trail camera scene with a new line of trail cameras whose price tags caused a lot of jaws to drop.  With many of the popular digital trail cameras selling for around $200 or less, the Reconyx line was nearly 3 times the price which raised a lot of eyebrows.  However, over the next several years the new company proved that they were a force to be reckoned with.  Incredible trigger speed, battery life, and reliabilty combined with the RapidFire technology made the RC55 and RC60 trail cameras two of the best options according to many trail cam enthusiasts.

Early in 2010 Reconyx announced it would be coming out with two new cameras, the HC500 and HC600.  Both cameras would feature the same RapidFire technology that made the first cams so successful but in a smaller package with better battery life and a lower pricetag.  Too good to be true?  Not from what I can see.

My first shipment of HC500's arrived late last week and I was eager to test one of them out to see how they compared to the older models.  The first thing I noticed was the much smaller package of the HC500, which is a welcome change.  You can fit a couple of these little guys in your pack and not even know they're there.  The smaller housing also makes them more difficult to spot, both by wildlife and potential thieves.  Despite the new smaller size, all Reconyx units still come with a built-in carrying handle which is yet another great feature.

I've waited a few months to get my hands on one of these new Reconyx HC500 units.  Let the fun begin!

The HC500 mounted to a small tree in my yard.  The smaller size of this trail camera is great for situations like this.

Upon opening the unit you'll notice right away that it uses AA batteries as opposed to the C cell batteries of the old units.  The HC500 and HC600 both take 12, yes TWELVE, AA batteries.  Reconyx recommends either Energizer Lithiums or NiMH rechargeables (which may be the smart option considering the cost of Lithiums).  Of course all I had laying around were standard alkalines, which will work in the HC500 unit but are not recommended in the Hight Output units as they don't have the same performance in hot or cold weather, or at night.  According to the owner's manual even with alkaline batteries the HC500 can still take 20,000 or more images.  With a good set of Lithiums you can get as many as 40,000 images!  In any case, for this test my Duracell Alkalines worked just fine.  Combined with a 2 GB SD card I was ready to start my tests.

The HC500 with batteries installed and SD card ready to go.  The SD card slot is very easy to access, which is very nice when you have gloves on during cold weather.

Without looking at the instructions (hey, I'm a guy) I popped in the batteries and the SD card, then fired the HC500 up.  The first thing it did was ask me to program the date and time.  Upon completion it let me know my card was empty and I was running on full battery life.   Before I put the camera on a tree I stepped through some of the settings just to see how everything worked.  There's only a few buttons on these Reconyx units so they're not too hard to figure out.  You can adjust just about every setting you can think of from time between triggers to how many triggers the camera takes each time it's triggered, sensitivity levels, and much more.  Out of the box the Reconyx RC500 is set to take 3 images per trigger with a 1 second delay between images, and no delay between triggerings.  I modified these settings to put the cam in RapidFire mode with 15 seconds between triggerings.

The LCD screen is bright and clear, both in the daylight and at night thanks to the new backlight (a huge improvement over the old units).  With just 3 buttons to pick from setup is a breeze.  Leave the HC500 on it's default settings and you can be ready to start using it in seconds, even without reading the directions.

Once I got the camera hooked on a tree in my back yard with the included adjustable bungee, I put it into the "Walk Test" mode.  This allows you to walk in front of the cam and see at which points you're triggering a picture to be taken.  This feature is great for making sure you've got everything lined up to cover the area you want.  Once you're satisfied with the camera's position you can simply leave - 2 minutes without a motion trigger will arm the camera.  This is great because you don't have to go back to the cam and open it up, risking messing up your alignment, to arm it.

The adjustable bungee cord included with all Reconyx trail cameras works great on virtually any size tree.  If you don't want to use the bungee cord the new HC500 will accomodate a Master Python lock for added security (sold separately).

Here's the results of my afternoon testing: 148 triggering events took 444 photos over just a couple hours.  I did have a few blank images, but generally they were on photos #2 or #3 in the sequence when the target was moving at a pretty good pace.  Just a note: I put my test cam much lower than I normally would as I was using my dog for a test subject.  She's only about 50 lbs and stands about 1/2 the height of a whitetail doe, so I figured this would give me a more realistic scenario.  As you'll see in the pictures below the Reconyx RC500 stamps the date, time, moon phase, temp, and photo # on each picture.  You can also personalize the message on the bottom of the image, but I was in too much of a hurry to play around for that today.

By default the HC500 takes still images in 1080P resolution (which technically is a video resolution, not a still image resolution, but I guess that's marketing for ya).  What this means for you is that the images are 3008x2000 pixels, which is plenty big to blow up and look at those little kickers on the bases of the buck you're chasing.  If you want to print an image out the print size will be roughly 10"x6", which is pretty good.  The images below have been reduced to 600x399 to fit on the screen, which is 1/5 the size of the original.

In this first photo you can see there's still good light and the color saturation is great.  We are roughly 15 feet from the camera at this point.  As you can see this is triggering #3 of the sequence.  The nice thing about the RapidFire is that if the subject is slowly moving in front of the cam you are almost guaranteed to get at least one great photo that is centered and exactly what you're looking for.

In this photo you can see my neighbor in the brown shirt behind the fence tending to his Sunday afternoon fire.  He is approximately 70 feet away from the camera at this point.  I captured a ton of photos of him over the course of the day, which is pretty impressive.  The sensitivity on this camera is excellent.

As with all digital trail cameras I've ever used, you still have some motion blur on daylight photos where the subject is moving at a fast pace.  This is just the nature of the beast when trying to keep the shutter open long enough to get good light.  Not as bad as some trail cameras I've used, but not great either. 

Here's a good example of a low light photo from the HC500.  You can't tell as much in this scaled down version, but there is quite a bit of noise/grain in this image.  Again, it's just the nature of the beast for digital cameras and its not as bad as I've seen on other cameras like my Cuddeback Capture which is good to see.

The last photo is me coming at night to check the "low-glow" IR technology.  A lot of people always ask us about the red "flash" spooking deer.  I'm here to tell you that unless you're looking right into the flash on these cameras you're not even going to notice it going off.  Even knowing the camera was there I almost missed the IR flash as it was so dull and so quick.  Because the cam is so low on the tree a lot of the grass in front of me absorbed the flash, but the brightness and clarity look pretty good to me.  You can easily make out my feance in the background which is about 50 feet away.

All in all I'm very impressed with the Reconyx RC500 trail camera.  This cam is incredibly easy to set up, the trigger speed is great, photo clarity is good, and the RapidFire technology still amazes me.  With a price tag now just over $400 the HC500 is still pretty pricey, but if you're tired of blank images, dead batteries, and unreliable trail cameras it may be time to consider a Reconyx.  I know I am!

Be sure to check the shopping cart over the next couple of days as these new trail cameras become available for purchase.

Categories: Bowhunting Blogs

The New Moultrie Gamespy i45 Trail Camera

by John Mueller 2. September 2009 14:33
John Mueller

I decided I needed one more trail camera for this season so I ordered the new Moultrie Game Spy i45 from the store. It was waiting on my front porch for me when I got home this evening. It’s so nice to find things like this on the front porch after a hard day at work!

The new Game Spy i45 by Moultrie.

One reason I chose the i45 is it has the option of sending my photos directly from the camera (with an added option) to a website for viewing over the internet. I haven’t purchased the necessary equipment yet, but it’s a neat idea. One I may consider in the future.

Some of the features on the i45 are:

  • Infrared sensor for immediate game capture
  • Imprinted photo strip with temperature, moon phase, time, date, and camera ID
  • Color day pictures/IR(black and white) nighttime pictures
  • 5/15/30 second video clips
  • Multi shot trigger up to 3 shots per trigger
  • 4 picture resolution settings/2 video resolution settings
  • Port for optional power panel
  • 4.0 MegaPixel camera
  • This camera looks to be very well put together. The housing is very sturdy and seals up weather tight. I like the way the top opens up to the controls and the SD card is very easy to reach unlike my older Moultrie cams.  It looks like Moultrie really listened to their customer feedback when designing this new unit.

    The case is well built and more compact than my older Moultrie cameras.

    I really like the easy access to the SD card, much better than on my other Moultrie models.

    A couple of things I found that I didn’t care for are the color of the case and that I cannot read the SD card in my digital camera. The case is almost glossy black which seems to make it stand out more. It does have a nice bark finish to it, but I think a gray color would make it much less noticeable to deer and other hunters. I really liked the fact that I could view the pics from my other Moultrie cams on my hand held digital camera. I guess this one uses a different format, so I can no longer look at my pics in the field.

    The included strap makes for an easy attachment to the tree, but a grey color would blend in much better in my opinion.

    Now I just need to get the unit out in the woods. I’ll do another review after I get a week or two of pics on it and let you all know what I think.

    In the meantime if you'd like to try out one of these new cameras you can purchase them here in the online store by clicking this link.  I think these are going to be a big seller for this fall so get yours before they're all sold out!

    Introducting the Moultrie Game Management System

    by Todd Graf 7. August 2009 04:08
    Todd Graf

    Introducting the Moultrie Game Management System — a camera, GPS cellural accessory and web site system that allows you to check your cameras from the comfort of your office.


    Pattern and scout game anywhere in the world.
    The Moultrie Game Management System gives you 24/7 access to your hunting land. It's simple really, our three part system – camera, GPS cellural accessory and web site – literally connects you to your game camera. Our latest I- and M-Series cameras bring innovative options, clarity and a new level of data management to your hunt. When connected to the cutting-edge GPS Game Spy Connectiong cellular accessory, you can instantly transmit images to your own, password-protected page on Moultrie's game management web site. Even better, members can access their private web page from anywhere inthe world that has an internet connection.



    Clarity, covertness, control — a new series of cameras takes your hunting to the next level.
    Not ready for the system and web site? Not a problem. Our four latest I- and M-Series camera models can be used with or without the complete Game Management System. The new I-Series cameras have been upgraded to include truly invisible infrared technology, while the new M-Series give you the ability to capture color night video. The 65-Series offers up to six mega-pixels, with four picture resolution and two video resolution options. Each new camera boasts a faster trigger time to ensure immediate game capture. All models com in a easy-to-operate LCD menu display that shows batterly life and activity summary.

    Scout big game with a mouse.
    Once inside your private access page at, you can easily sort and search images by time, date, moon phase, temps or barometric pressure, create albums and galleries of your images, and even plot and view your camera locations using GPS coordinates – all with the click of your mouse. Plus, you can control the settings on your camera without ever leaving your chair – switch from still to video mode, check battery levels, and more from any internet connection.

    Moultrie brings a new window to your hunting world and it's open 24/7. Get all the details of the new Moultrie Game Management System at

    We're always scouting for ways to make your hunting experience more enjoyable and successful.

    The Moultrie Game Management System.

    Categories: Current News

    Whitetail Buck versus Bucket! Captured on trailcam?

    by Bow Staff 6. April 2009 09:58
    Bow Staff

    Imagine if you will, for just a moment, its archery deer season. You are in your treestand, perched over your favorite funnel where so many whitetails have met their maker. Its early morning still as the sun’s rays just peak over the eastern skies. The air is cool and the wind is calm. An almost perfect morning waits it’s unfolding. You slowly stand now; making sure the bow’s within reach, stretching your anxious legs.

    In the distance you catch a faint glimpse of an object moving through the low brush. You know instantly what it is… a deer! Time dwindles by as the darker shadow grows larger now and the picture more clear… it’s a… it’s a… a buck??

    Your hand already has grasped your bow, feet already moved into position. But to your own surprise something is just not right before you. You see the long tines of a buck as he nears, but something doesn’t seem correct. “Is that a raccoon in his rack”? You mumble to yourself, as you begin staring more intently at the now even closer deer.

    As he passes within range your bow surprises you at full draw, and you don’t even know how it got there. Your pin finds the mark, settling just behind the buck’s shoulder. A moment later you release the deer’s final breath, and a mere 40 yards later, the buck falls.

    Of course the story above is entirely false, but we at wonder what it might be like for such an animal to walk into our woods. What our reaction would be? What your reaction might be?

    Do you shoot? Do you pass? Would the entire experience throw you for such a loop that it would cause the entire opportunity to just completely pass you by?

    Our answers might different from yours, but we all agree that if any of us had an opportunity to take this buck and successfully did; we’d have a mount on our walls with a 5 gallon bucket still clutched within it’s rack. Cause, why wouldn’t you? What a story that would tell!

    What would you do if such an animal, a whitetail buck complete with bucket, presented such a shot?

                                                                                                                                                                                           If this whitetail buck presented you with a shot... would you take it?
    Categories: Bowhunting Blogs

    Case closed on the "Tank".

    by Scott Abbott 16. March 2009 09:32
    Scott Abbott

    Summer 2007 while glassing a bean field I located a nice bachelor group of bucks using a drainage ditch as a travel corridor to exit a swamp that they were using as bedding cover.  I didn't have my digital camera with me that day so I went back the next three nights hoping to see them repeat their movements through the ditch.  The third night was a success and they made an appearance before night fall.  Even with my camera tapped out to it's 10X optical zoom maximum, it just wasn't enough to really see what the bucks were packing.   I could tell they were all good bucks and I could see the ones left and right side didn't match.  Curiosity was getting to me, I really wanted to know what these guys were packing.

    The buck all the way to the left is the "Tank".

    Soon after I formulated a plan and set a game camera up to take advantage of this travel pattern they were using.  The mission was a success, as I got many photos of each of the bucks.   When checking the memory card for the first time my buddy says, "Man that bucks body is a tank!"  From there on, he was known as the Tank.   He featured a solid typical four points on his right and an odd shaped three point main frame and a kicker on his left.

    The Tank in full velvet.  Impressive neck and body size for August.

    We are now almost into hard antler, a cool photo showing him shedding his velvet.

    Finally, hard antler.

    Even though he wasn't on my "hit list", I never did see him during hunting season and did not get any more trail camera photos of him once our archery season opened the first Saturday of October.  So many times over the years hunting season closes and I have high aspirations to find the sheds of some of the better bucks I located over the previous summer / fall.  Sometimes I am lucky enough to locate some of their bone, but most times they just seem to have disappeared.  I did find the right side of the biggest buck of this bachelor group last winter, but found nothing of the tank or the "Tall Ten". 

    While walking a very nasty multi flora thicket today I could see a solid four point side 30-35 yards ahead....  Five minutes later I finally wrestled my way over through the green briar and I immediately recognized the remains as the Tank.  I examined the skeletal remains as best I could for a clue to his death but I couldn't find anything to convince me of what happened.  It really is bitter sweet finding the remains of a whitetail you have history with.  I had always hoped he just moved on to another area, but this just wasn't the case.     

    Closure has been found on the Tank and the case is now officially closed.  I always had a soft spot for this buck because I shot a buck here in 2003 that had similar non-typical growth on his right side (pictured below).


    The third chapter. (The 4 Beam Buck)

    by Scott Abbott 13. March 2009 15:22
    Scott Abbott

    Chapter One.  09/17/2008

    Set up on the North end of a standing corn field facing South back toward the field my game camera snapped a series of 24 photos on September 17th, 2008 starting at 11:02 PM and ending at 11:25 PM.  This was my first "encounter" with the buck that I have come to know as "The 4 Beam Buck".  I never got another picture of him other than from this series, even while running two cameras on the property.  I hoped to catch him on my other camera as it takes much nicer photos but I had no such luck. 

    Two photos from that night.

    Chapter Two.  11/16/2008

    November 16th, 2008 found me sitting in a lock on that has been kind to me over the years.  Not long after first light I can hear it....  The tell tale sound of chasing.  A yearling buck ran a doe right underneath my stand with a big buck and numerous younger bucks lagging behind.  I at first did not get a good look at the "big buck" because so many deer were converging on my location at once.  I didn't want to get caught glassing any of them and have a good buck come in range with my attention else where. 

    I was then able to start glassing the bucks I went from dink to dink to respectable 2.5 year olds than BAM.... It's the "4 Beam Buck"!  It was an outstanding experience watching all the chasing and dominance displays he put on over the next couple hours fending off these bucks from courting his bedded doe.  Once all of the activity slowed and I was able to look around, I had seven bucks and one doe all within 60 yards of my setup.  The encounter wasn't meant to turn into a big buck and "hero" photos though as they left my area for good a few hours after they arrived.

    Chapter Three.  03/13/2008

    Over 40 hours into my Ohio shed season I had yet to find a shed antler.  I found some in IL and OK, but just couldn't get on any here at home.  Around 4:00 PM I put an end to the shed-less streak by picking up a yearling shed.  It sure felt good to finally pick one up.

    A couple hours later found me in an area I would not have expected to find a shed.  It is an area that is full of young maple trees with absolutely no ground cover or browse to speak of....  Just tall skinny maple trees.  I was griding the area out East-West then back West-East.  I was about 3/4's through the area when I see the curl of a main beam sticking up 30 feet ahead....  I walk up to see the right side of the "4 Beam Buck"!  Darkness fell fast and I was not able to locate the other side.  I will be back out there in the morning trying my best to find the other side. 

    As it lied when I found it.

    Another view once I got home.

    I hope to add a couple more chapters to this story over this spring / summer going into next fall.  Even if this story doesn't end with the whitetail and I making a trip to my taxidermist, I have throughly enjoyed the ride thus far.

    All New Trail Cameras for 2009 - Announced at the bowhunting ATA Show.

    by Todd Graf 10. January 2009 13:09
    Todd Graf

    Here is the run down for all the new trail cameras for 2009.

    CamTrakker - Unit MK-8

    After talking with Dan Stoneburner, the owner of CamTrakker, I found that his focus will remain the same as he continues to improve on the CamTrakker MK-8. Although this unit was released in 2008, changes have been made to the unit's firmware upgrades. The MK-8's most recent update has really made the unit very stable and is working great. If you have already purchased a Camtrakker MK-8 you should contact CamTrakker to make sure your unit is upgraded to the newest version.

    Here are some of the highlighted features of the CamTrakker MK-8:

    1. Adjustable flash ranges for both IR operation and Strobe flash operation.
    2. Long lasting lead-acid battery life, included with purchase.
    3. Easy to use & set-up
    4. Ability to view photos in the field.
    5. Easy access to both battery and SD Card
    6. High quality images
    7. Burst mode for daytime images

    Recon Outdoors - Viper

    The Viper is one of the latest additions to the Recon Outdoors line of Infrared digital scouting and security cameras.  We will be adding Recon trail cameras to our site this year and we look forward to testing these units.

    Here are some of the highlighted features:

    1. New shape and superior functionality - this unit is extremely small
    2. 2.1 MP infrared images
    3. You no longer have to open the unit to check cameras status
    4. One keypad on the front of the unit allows you to view everything including picture count, battery voltage, available memory space all at a glance of any eye.
    5. Available in no camo and Mossy Oak Tree Stand.

    Bushnell - All New - Trophy Cam Model (119415) includes built in LCD color viewer & 119405 (B & W Text LCD)

    You will not believe the size of this unit. It is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and is packed with some incredible features. This unit is so small you could fit them right into your pants pockets.

    1. 3 / 5 Mp high quality full color
    2. Day / Night Auto sensor
    3. Adjustable PIR (low/medium/High)
    4. Trigger speed less than 1 second
    5. Multi image mode - 1 - 3 images per trigger
    6. Temperature ranges / -5 - 140 degrees
    7. 24 infrared night vision LED's - 45 feet range
    8. Runs off of 8 AA batteries for up to 6 months.
    9. Video length up to 60 seconds.
    10. Requires the purchase of a SD Card.
    11. Model 119415 comes with color built-in LCD color viewfinder

    In the photo above you can see how small the new Bushnell Trophy Cam is comed to the older units.

    Reconyx - MC65 Solocam IR - All New for 2009

    Reconyx introduced the next generation in digtail scouting with the Mathews edition Solocam camera.

    1. 1/5 Second Trigger speed
    2. 1 Photo per second
    3. Lo-Glow IR - Semi-Convert
    4. IR Flash range of 50 feet
    5. CF up to 32 Gig - 4 gig card holds up to 10 - 15,000 photos
    6. Color by Day / Mono at Night
    7. 1080 High Definition images
    8. Operating tempatures - -20 to +120 degrees

    Predator Trailcams - All new for the Xtinction & Evolution XR is "One touch set-up"

    1. "One touch set-up feature" Install batteries, Insert storage device choose - one touch option ans walk away! Its that simple.
    2. The Xtinction features included - Double Vision Technology which uses 32 or 48 "True" infrared emitters. With 32 emitters activated the nighttime range will be 25 - 30ft, depending on conditions and settings. If 48 emitters are activated the nightime range will increase out to 40+ feet.
    3. High Resolution Images - 3.2 Day / 1.3 Night.
    4. Both units come standard with Next Generation Camo.
    5. 4 digit securtiy code can be entered on both units to prevent theft.
    6. Both photos and videos can be viewed in the field.

    I have also been told that improvements have been made to increase the overall battery life of these units.

    Moultrie Game Spy Management system - New units for 2009 Include the following features - (4 New Models)

    Moultrie has really made some big improvements to their trail camera lineup for this year.  Just about every complaint that customers had about these units has been addressed.  They are smaller, the batteries and flash card are eaiser to access, and the trigger speed has been improved as well.  The only thing that has been sacrificed in this year's units is they now take 4 D-cell batteries instead of 6, which will give up some battery life in order to acheive a smaller package.  After looking at the cameras firsthand, I think it was a good trade-off.

    Game Spy I-45 Includes -

    1. 4.0 Mega Pixel
    2. 50ft Flash Range
    3. Tempature, moon phase, time, date and camera ID on every photo and video
    4. Color during the day / IR during night
    5. Three picture resolutions / two video resolutions
    6. Operates on 4 D-cell batteries
    7. Upgradeable software

    Game Spy I-65 Includes -

    1. 6.0 Mega pixel images
    2. 1.8 inch built-in picture and video viewer
    3. Barometric pressure
    4. Password security
    5. Time-lapse mode
    6. Four picture resolutions
    7. The I-65 Also includes all the features of the I-45!

    Two other units, the Game Spy M-45 & M-65 are both available with the same features as the I-45 and I-65 except with a standard flash unit, not infrared.

    But these great new features aren't even the best part about these new Moultrie units.  With all of the new units you can at anytime purchase a modem which attaches to the unit and will wirelessly transmit images through AT&T's cellular network. Once the images are sent you can log into Moultrie's new Game Management website which will offer you private access to manage your photos, data and cameras all through your computer once signed up.  I have to admit this is pretty cool that you can buy the moden attachment when your ready.  Retail cost on the modem unit is going to be around $150.

    The new Moultrie I-45 and I-65 trail cameras.  You can see the overall package has been completely redesigned for this year.

    The website being displayed above the Moultrie's Game Management site where you can manage your cameras and images when using the modem adapter.

    New Cuddeback Units for 2009

    The folks at Cuddeback are releasing two new units for 2009, however they are still in production and didn't have any working samples for us to look at or photograph.  We did get some specs on the forthcoming cameras though.  The two new units are the NoFlash X2 and the Expert X2.  These are essentially upgraded versions of the old NoFlash and Expert units with a few improvements.  The NoFlash X2 will take 5.0 mega pixel images during the day and 1.3 mega pixel black and white images by night.  The interesting part about the NoFlash X2 is that it uses two separate cameras for taking pictures by day and by night., meaning each one is optimized for the best quality at both times.  The NoFlash X2 also features 15 second delays during both day and night and you can set different delays for each.  Video clips are now shot at 18 frames per second for higher quality.

    Both cameras will now accept SD cards instead of CF cards (which are more expensive and harder to find than SD) and a new "Genius" mounting system.  The Expert X2 has all the same features as the NoFlash X2 in a standard flash camera, however it only has a minimum 30 second delay at night and 15 second delay during the daytime.  As soon as we get some more information or photos we'll be sure to blog about them.

    It should also be noted that a new firmware version has been released for the Capture IR cameras, which greatly increases the flash range of these cameras.  Visit Cuddeback's website to download the firmware and upgrade your camera today.

    Most importantly we will be stocking, selling and testing all units right here at!

    To view photo samples you can check out our new site -!

    Coyote and whitetails.....

    by Scott Abbott 30. December 2008 17:39
    Scott Abbott

    Did that coyote really ruin your hunt?  I know we have all been in the situation where we have had coyotes come through and in our mind ruined an other wise "perfect" day to be on stand.  I myself used to feel this way but over the years I have come to realize that just isn't the case on most occasions. 

    Thinking back over the years I have had many successful hunts where a coyote has come in prior to whitetail.  In fact I shot my highest scoring buck mere minutes after a lone coyote had come through the area.  Coincidence?  I say not.  I have had just to many experiences over the years telling me other wise.  Obviously these deer and coyotes share their home ranges.  If a whitetail froze up or ran for cover every time it cut a coyotes scent trail, they sure wouldn't be able to cover much ground tending their daily routines.

    Here are a couple game camera photos, again proving to me that coyotes do not negatively affect a hunt as much as I once thought.  The years have taught me to keep my head up and not let coyotes moving through my setup to waive my confidence.  Note the times on the two photos to follow.  I have more photos of a few different deer on that camera not long after wards as well.  None of them seemed to act alarmed in the photos.



    Whitetail deer shed antler update.

    by Scott Abbott 30. December 2008 16:42
    Scott Abbott

    Well, I know it is early still.... but no shed junky can't say he isn't excited to get the shedding underway! 

    I don't have any big news to report yet, only these couple photos to follow.  Well it's a start anyways!

    These photos were taken with the Moultrie D40.  It offers excellent performance for the $99 price tag, the battery life was outstanding even in the single digits temps we have had lately.




    Shed buck game camera pics, and a surprise.....

    by Scott Abbott 22. December 2008 09:46
    Scott Abbott


    Looks to be a healthy buck who has shed his antlers at first glance......



      Maybe even at second glance.....



    How about now?????



    For my area his muscles structure would be very large in his shoulder area to be 1.5 buck, nor do his facial features look to be a yearlings so I am leaning at 2.5 years old...  I never saw this buck all summer on camera or all fall from stand..... 

    I just put a camera back out a week ago to check on the shedding process.....  This is the only shed buck on camera so far.

    I wonder if that is a birth defect or an injury sustained later in life.   Any thoughts, ideas or experiences to shed some light on this?

    Making a Mock Scrape.

    by John Mueller 2. November 2008 14:58
    John Mueller

    Making a Mock Scrape 

    Last Saturday I found a great spot for a mock Scrape. There is a long ridge that slopes down along a small creek on my property, creating a natural funnel. At the end of the ridge is a nice trail leading from my field that crosses the creek. I found a small branch that overhung the trail. This is very important. There must be a low overhanging branch to make the scrape under. The deer also leave scent on the branch with their forehead glands. As you can see in this picture I also broke the branch to add a little visual effect.


    Notice the broken branch above the deer.



    Then I brushed all of the leaves from a 3’ diameter circle under the branch with a stick. After removing the leaf litter I made some long scrapes in the dirt like a deer’s hooves would make. I like to make it look as real as possible. You can add some scent if you want, but I have found it is not necessary.


    When I returned on Sunday to check the scrape a deer had worked it and added another a few feet away. I then went and got my trail camera and set it up on the new scrape. I had lots of action in just a few days. Right now is a great time to make mock scrapes. The bucks are really hitting the scrapes hard at this time. It’s a great way to see what bucks are in your area. Here are a few that worked my mock scrape.



    This guy looks like an old bruiser.


    Another big bodied visitor.


    A good young buck working the scrape.

    Notice that all of this activity is under the cover of darkness. That is why I usually don't hunt over scrapes. But it is a great way to get an inventory of your bucks. You can get your trail cameras and scents right here on in the shopping section if you need one.

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