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The Sign of Autumn: Bowhunting Big Buck Clues

by Scott Abbott 15. September 2010 16:31
Scott Abbott

There is just something in the Autumn air, something that makes this season much more special than the others.  The cool breeze and sweet aroma outside.  The sight of reds, yellows and oranges brightening the forest canopy.  The farmers working their land to bring in the years harvest....  Alright, I know I am not really fooling anyone here.  Bowhunters making their way afield is what makes Autumn everything that it is to me.

Sure Fall would still be a wonderful time of year, even without deer season.  But, the first sighting of the coming seasons deer sign is what is exciting and special to me.  There is just something about walking up on the first rubs and scrapes for the impending deer season. It makes my mind race trying to match wits with the buck who left his calling card for all to see.  Where did he come from?  Where was he going?  The possibilities are nearly endless.

 These two rubs are located just outside of a clearcut bedding area.  Although that bedding area is not located on property I can hunt, I can at least try to take advantage of the deer entering or exiting it from the property I have access to.

This is a field edge scrape located about 100 yards away from the closest bedding area along a bean field.

This scrape is located deep in the timber on public land.  I found it on a bench just above a deep run off gorge.

After seeing these signs of Autumn it really hits me that soon I will be out doing what I love, chasing whitetail deer and enjoying the tranquility and solitude of the great outdoors.  No TV, radio or computers, just the critters and I.  I will be soaking as much of it in as possible.

Good luck to everyone, I hope you have a season to remember.

 

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Summertime Prep; Scouting Velvet Bucks & Hanging Treestands

by Justin Zarr 22. July 2010 14:31
Justin Zarr

The end of July is getting close which means a couple things for us bowhunters.  First and foremost, archery seasons are just around the corner.  We're now less than two months to the start of Wisconsin bow season, and less than 3 months until Illinois opens.  Anyone who hasn't already hung their treestands or started shooting their bow on a regular basis needs to get their butt in gear!  These lazy days of summer also means a great opportunity to glass soybean fields for velvet bucks.  Although you can't shoot them yet, they're still pretty fun to look at!

This past weekend I took a trip with my good friend Mike Willand to a new lease he has in Northwestern Illinois.  Mike takes his scouting extremely seriously and spent countless hours walking this farm during the spring looking for not just shed antlers, but analyzing the available deer sign and formulating a plan for this fall.  As all successful hunters know, the more work you put in now the more successful you'll be later and if that holds true, Mike just may come home with a truck full of bone come October.

During this July scouting trip we had two primary goals.  Number one was to hang another treestand specifically for morning hunts.  The way this particular farm is laid out, only about 1/2 of it can be hunted in the mornings without cutting across the primary food source and bumping any deer that may be in it.  So having plenty of options for wind directions is a must.  With a little help from his Treehopper belt, Mike was able to safely hang his treestand in no time and we were off. 

The second goal of the night was to try and spot some whitetails in velvet and see what kind of headgear they're sporting.  So after sweating our butts off hanging the treestand Mike and I split up for the evening's scouting mission.  Unfortunately my mission was an utter failure.  I saw a doe and fawn in the field on my way out and that was it for the rest of the night.  Zip.  Zero.  Zilch.  Nada!  I did however get in a few good games of Blackjack on my phone.  While I was keeping myself occupied with that Mike did manage to see a couple deer, including one decent buck he has nicknamed "Little Rob".  Unfortunately a gang of coyotes came onto the field about 30 minutes before dark and cut our scouting mission short.

Check out the video below for a full recap of our stand hanging/velvet scouting adventure.


The view from my luxury box back in the weeds with the flies, ticks, snakes and blackbirds.


Supplies for the evening: Camera bag, cell phone, gloves, water, Gatorade, and a granola bar.


Nope, no deer here!

Trail Cameras Off To A Slow Start

by Justin Zarr 14. July 2010 16:19
Justin Zarr

For some reason when it comes to trail cameras and summertime, I feel like I'm cursed.  I've been running trail cameras staring in early July for the last 4 or 5 years and I've yet to get a photo of a really good velvet buck.  Sometimes I feel like I'm cursed, especially when I see some of the bucks that others are getting on their cameras.  My only real excuse is that in the urban areas I hunt I'm terrified to put a camera on a field edge for fear of it getting stolen, so I often put them in the woods where foilage is thick and deer can be hard to find during the summer.  Typical travel corridors aren't being used as heavily as deer aren't really traveling very far, and there won't be any active scrapes for a few months yet.  So these typical hotbeds of trail camera activity are fairly slow right now.

So like usual, my first batch of photos produced nothing but a couple of does.  After seeing these results I do believe I'll have to move at least one of these cameras before the summer ends!  If my next batch of photos still doesn't reveal any bucks, at least I'll know where not to look for buck bedding areas come October.

Right now I have a Moultrie i40 and a Reconyx Hyperfire HC500 out.  Both cams have great color quality during the day, and superb IR flash range at night.  However, they aren't without their flaws!  Both cameras seem to have a distinct problem with motion blur during those low-light daytime images.  Many of my Reconyx photos are really blurry, which make the photos almost worthless.  The Moultrie has similar issues with blur, combined with a lot of empty images.  I'm not sure what's setting off the motion sensor but I've got probably 50% empty images so far, which is typical for this particular cam.  The Reconyx however had zero blank photos and did not miss a beat when it comes to capturing images.  That's one thing that HC500 does extremely well.


A typical daytime image from my Reconyx.  This doe and fawn seem to love working the trail I have this particular camera on, as I have quite a number of pictures of them.


The night time IR range on the HC500 is superb.  I just wish it was a nice buck instead!


The Moultrie i40 has some better color saturation, but motion blur is still a big issue.


I have the AM/PM reversed on this camera so it's only 3 in the afternoon.  Not quite sure why the IR triggered, but the overall quality of the photo isn't bad.

After checking both of these cameras, and almost dying of blood loss from the mosquitos, I set my ScoutGuard SG550 out inside a chunk of woods where I captured my two best bucks on camera last fall.  I'm really hoping to get a glimpse of one of the big boys this summer so I know they're still around.  Come October it always helps that motivation to know you've got a few target bucks to chase.  Now it's just a waiting game.  I'll go back in two weeks and, provided nobody steals my cameras, we'll see what we've got!

This Saturday Mike and I are headed to his lease to see if we can't film some velvet bucks in a giant soybean field so hopefully we get some good footage for you next week.  Check back soon and I'll let you know how things go!

Mid-Summer Deer Hunting Preparation

by Todd Graf 14. July 2010 16:07
Todd Graf

The heat of July is on, food plots are putting on some serious growth and for those who took the time to do soil tests and fertilize the tonnage will being coming soon.  This is only my 2nd year of really putting a lot of effort into my food plots and it's amazing how much I've learned.  A little bit of hard work really does go a long way and I've really noticed the increased amount of deer on my property. 


Sending soil samples out for pH testing is critical in order to know the proper type and amount of fertilizer to use for optimal growth.

The photo belows shows how quickly your plots will blow up when they are fertilized and PH levels are in check.  With a little help from mother nature food plots can really grow at an unbelievable pace.  Only 15 days and look at the difference in this plot!

Now that July is here and the bucks have started to pack on the inches, it's time to get your trail cameras out.  I prefer to start them on the edge of soybean fields, or on mineral stations where  legal.  Personally, I like to stay out of the woods now and not put any pressure on resident bucks. If I do enter I try to make plenty of noise to give the deer a change to get out, this way I don’t sneak up on them and bust them out of their beds.  Below are some of the nicer bucks my trail cameras have captured so far this summer.


Summer is a great time to get photos of more than just velvet whitetails.  These two does look like they're really going at it!

While I was up in Wisconsin putting out some trail cameras and getting my stands ready for September, my nephew Anthony came with to help out.  He's really showing some interest in hunting which is great to see.  Anytime you can get a kid interested in the outdoors and take him with you, do it!  It's a lot of fun for both of you.


Here's a shot of my pops trying to keep the horse flies away.  If it wasn't for him taking me out in the woods when I was a kid who knows what I'd be doing now!

If you have apple trees in your hunting areas I like to spread 13-13-13 fertilizer under the edge of the outter branches to help the production of apples.  I did this earlier in the spring and wow did it make a huge difference.  My apple trees are FULL of apples this year, which should make for some great hunting come October.  The deer cant resist them.

Now is the time to start getting those plots ready for this fall.  August is prime time for planting turnips, wheat, buck forage oats, winter rye and brassicas.  All of these make great attractants for fall hunting and are relatively easy to plant.


Killing off the current vegetation is the first step in prepping for fall food plots.

Justin and I are headed to Wyoming next month to chase antelope, which means it's about time to start shooting broadheads already.  The deer hunting season will be here before you know it!

#1 On My Bowhunting Hit List

by John Mueller 9. July 2010 12:42
John Mueller

I've gotten a few pictures of this buck on my Moultrie i45 trail camera so far this summer, and he looks like a really good buck.  The photos were taken 3 different times as he was headed down a trail leading to my food plot.  And all 3 of those times were in daylight. So far he is #1 on my deer hunting hit list for this fall, but his buddy in the one picture isn't too bad either. If he shows up alone, he may just get an arrow sent his way as well.

This is the 3rd summer I have owned my property and this is the most summer buck activity I have ever seen. This year I have corn and soybeans along with milo and wheat in my food plots. I think that is what is keeping the bucks around. Plus the fact that I created a 5 acre bedding area in my CRP ground. I replanted it to Native Warm Season Grasses last year, which are really starting to grow and reach a good height for the deer to bed in now. I hope this guy sticks around for the opener, because if he keeps using this path, I know where I will have a stand hanging.

If it weren't for using trail cameras I would have no idea this buck was in the area. I have never laid eyes on him before these pictures were taken.

The Moultrie I45 takes Infrared Pictures in lowlight situations and color pictures in daylight. You can get yours right here at Bowhunting.com by clicking this link. 

Maximize Your Bowhunting Success: Location, Location, Location!

by Justin Zarr 27. January 2010 07:17
Justin Zarr

With the passing of each bowhunting season I feel that I learn a little more not only about the game I hunt, but about my shortcomings as a bowhunter.  This has been especially true the past several years over which I feel I've grown quite a bit.  Although I don't have a wall full of Booners to show for it, I have had unquestionably some of the most productive hunts of my life, while at the same time having some of the most unproductive hunts of my life.  Which brings me to the point of this particular blog; maximizing your opportunities and successes for next year.

Like most bowhunters I have a fairly limited amount of time to spend in the woods each fall.  Between my weekends and a few vacation days I average probably 20-25 days in the field, nearly half of which are spent behind a camera as of late.  Needless to say, I need to get the most out of each one of those hunts if I hope to be successful.  There are quite a few variables that go into having a successful hunt and as I have found out the hard way none are more important than location.  You can be as scent free, quiet, and accurate as possible but if the shot never presents itself you've goten all dressed up with essentially no place to go.  The right location can make even a mediocre hunter appear great, and the wrong location can make a great hunter appear mediocre.

When I talk about maximizing your opportunities for success I don't just mean finding more or better hunting grounds.  I mean abandoning stands and entire hunting areas that are not producing the results you are looking for.  That has been one of my biggest hurdles to overcome in the past several years.  Memories and personal attachments to certain spots keep us coming back year after year, but what for?  Can we really afford to be wasting several days a year on spots that have rarely or in some cases never produced?

This past weekend I ventured out to look for shed antlers, pull a few of my cameras that have been out since November, and check on a few stands to make sure they didn't grow legs and walk off.  One of the areas I ventured into is a farm that I've been hunting since 2001.  In the 8 years of hunting this spot I have seen, while hunting, 3 shooter bucks.  Only one of which was within bow range, and unfortunately a bad shot ended with nothing more than a bad memory.  This past season I hunted there for a total of 5 sits and saw only two deer.  I ran a trail camera all summer and fall and got photos of two decent bucks, both well after dark, and both never returned.  So after nearly a decade of punishing myself by hunting an area that clearly is never going to produce the size or quantity of bucks I'm looking for, I've decided to pull my stands and move on. And to be honest, it's difficult to think about NOT hunting this spot.  But if I want to acheive my goals and give myself the best chances of taking a nice buck, I need to move on.


While both of these bucks are very nice, these are the only two photos I was able to capture of them all year.  Both photos were taken well after dark, and neither buck was seen during daylight hours by myself or anyone else hunting this particular farm.  A lot of bowhunters may choose to stick around and hope one of them wanders by during shooting hours, but after 8 years of cat and mouse with the bucks on this farm I'm finally throwing in the towel and moving on.  Am I crazy?

Fortunately for me, I have several other options to explore and promising areas to hunt which helps ease the pain a bit.  However, it wasn't always this way.  I spent 5 seasons bouncing from lease to lease looking for an area that could produce on a consistant basis until I finally found one.  Unfortunately it's 5 hours from home and I can't hunt it as much as I would like!  Which brings me to my next point; changing locations doesn't always mean pulling up stakes and moving halfway across the state.  Sometimes it's as simple as moving a few yards.  Someone once told me that the difference between a good stand and a great stand is 20 yards.  This single statement has stuck with me for years and had a huge effect on my hunting.


Over a 2 week period my trail camera captured 17 buck photos over a community scrape located along a travel corridor.  Of those 17 photos 12 were taken during daylight hours.  Clearly this information tells me that this is an area where these bucks feel safe and are frequenting during legal hunting hours, and is an area I should focus my attention on next year.

How many of bowhunters sit the same stands again and again after seeing that big buck just out of range?  Only a few more steps and you would've had him!  This must be a great stand location!  Then it happens again.  Another buck comes by and he's either just out of range or busts you before you can get the shot off.  So close again!  So you come back to that stand for the rest of the season, and maybe the next, and even the next, all the while hoping that maybe that buck will come just a little closer next time.  But after hundreds of hours on stand and some great stories to tell your hunting buddies your tags are still unfilled. 

Ask any bowhunter who has been consistantly successful at harvesting big whitetails the secret to their succes and they will tell you one of two things, and neither one of them is luck.  Location and hard work are the two ingredients to being successful on a regular basis according to virtually all of whitetail hunting's elite.  That means no longer being happy with just seeing deer, but getting close enough to kill them.  In many cases this means staying mobile and not falling into a state of complacency once the season starts.  Don't just sit in the same old stands because they're already in the tree or because they're the easiest walk from the truck.  If you want to be successful you have to hunt where the deer are at.  Click here to read my blog on mobile bowhunting for more information on my techniques and some of the gear I use to help me maximize my chances.


I shot this buck in 2007 after seeing him feeding on acorns several nights earlier.  After my first encounter I came back with another treestand and moved in 50 yards closer to where I had seen him.  Two nights later he showed up and the rest is history.  If I was simply complacent to see him, and hope that he came to me instead of me going to him, I may have never gotten a shot.

Trail camera photos can lead to one night stands.

by Scott Abbott 27. November 2009 05:20
Scott Abbott

Trail camera setups can be as complicated or simplistic as you choose to make them.  I personally stay on the simplistic side of things as I am not trying to "pattern" bucks with their use, but rather get a better look at them after I locate a buck I am interested in from summer glassing. For me it all starts in the summer.... I will spend countless hours and evenings glassing the areas I hunt looking for big whitetail bucks.  Once I locate some bucks of interest I move in and set up cameras and leave them up anywhere from two weeks to a month on the property. 

Leaving cameras up and checking them over and over again all summer is pointless to me.  Once I get a better look at the buck(s) in question, I know right away if he is an animal I am interested in or not.  Once my curiosity is satisfied I pull the cameras not to return with them again, unless a new buck is found on that land I need a better look at.  I err to the side of caution by only placing them on field edges or just into the timber. Deer are used to activity in these areas so you can get away with a little bit of human scent around these setups from your trips in and out.  If you are trying to setup trail cameras on their travel routes or bedding areas I feel you are setting your self up for early season failure.  With my personal focus on early season success, I do not want to tip anymore of the odds in the whitetails favor. 

I used summer glassing to locate this buck this past July.  I then moved in and set my DLC Covert II Assassin trail camera up for 2 weeks and got the photos I was looking for. He turned out to be the largest buck I located on land I can hunt.

October 17th found me in a particular stand for the first time this year with a strong, and very rare for my area NE wind.  I was setup just outside of his bedding area (beds located during shed season) and was able to capitalize on my preseason efforts in a big way!  Chances are I may not have been setup in that area had I not known this guy was in there. 

If you do your summertime homework by locating the bucks, move in and setup the trail cameras on their food source, pull the cameras out after you get the info you need and save those bedding area stand locations for the perfect wind and conditions I bet you will have a better shot at success this fall.

 

DLC Covert II Assassin Trail Camera.

by Scott Abbott 26. October 2009 05:52
Scott Abbott

This new product brought to market by Covert Scouting Cameras caught my eye right away when I first noticed it at the ATA show this past winter.  "Covert" is the perfect name for such a camera, it's tiny only 5 1/2" high x 3 1/2" wide x 2 1/4" deep.  It literally fits in the palm of your hand.  It's small stature coupled with it's infrared flash makes this camera very hard to detect by game and thieves alike.  Without looking for this camera it would be very easy to unknowingly walk right past it.

I had the privilege of testing this superb unit over the summer.  This trail camera is hands down the best I have used to date.  I got over 8000 pictures on one set of 8 AA batteries!  The cost of running this camera is minuscule.  In time this camera could nearly pay for it's self from it's low cost of operation compared to other cameras I have experience with.  It also comes with a 2 GB SD card so other than adding batteries it is ready to go right out of the package.

The camera is equipped to take either 3 MP or 5 MP photos backed by 24 high intensity LED bulbs packing a 40' flash range.  I will admit to never testing the unit on the 3 MP setting.  I only ran the unit set on 5 MP and it took fantastic photos both day and night.  The LED lights do a nice job on the photos after dark.

Below is a sample of a couple day and night photos. Keep in mind the photo quality suffers quite a bit when I resize and upload them to the blog.  They are much more crisp and vibrant before manipulating them.

These first two photos showcase the cameras fast trigger speed.

 Features of the Covert II Assassin trail camera include:
-24 "high intensity" Infrared LED's with a 40' flash range.
-Adjustable sensitivity for the PIR motion sensor.
-The camera comes with a 2 GB SD memory card.  The unit accepts cards from 8 MB to 2 GB in size.
-Adjustable from 1 second to 60 minute delay.
-Adjustable from 1 second to 60 second video length.
-The case includes a sun / rain shield over the lens and PIR unit.
-Industry standards such as locking tabs and a waterproof seal.
-1 year limited warranty.

These cameras can be viewed at www.covertscoutingcamera.com or http://www.dlccovert.com/ and you can reach Dave who is very helpful at david@covertscoutingcamera.com for all of your Covert camera questions or needs.

 

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 Bowhunting.com 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 Bowhunting.com 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!

    The New Moultrie Gamespy i45 Trail Camera

    by John Mueller 2. September 2009 08:33
    John Mueller

    I decided I needed one more trail camera for this season so I ordered the new Moultrie Game Spy i45 from the Bowhunting.com 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 Bowhunting.com 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!

    Setting up a lockon treestand, climbing sticks and trimming shooting lanes.

    by Scott Abbott 5. August 2009 08:25
    Scott Abbott

    Every now and then you come across a spot that just tells you to put a lock on up rather than pack in your stand for the hunt.  This spot only tells me that once every 3 years though because of the crop rotation on the fields.  It is a long walk from my parking area and right outside of a bedding area that is located 100 yards East of a corn field (I do not have access to the property with the corn field).

    I always take in extra screw in steps when setting a lock on and climbing sticks.. You never know when you may have to go a couple extra feet to clear some branches.

    Because of these circumstances of the close proximity of a bedding area and the very long walk I decided to put a lock on up for the season rather than pack in a stand when I hunt it.  It is a spot that I will hunt a few times throughout the year as it ties into each stage of the season from early season staging, to prerut seeking, to the ruts chasing and again to late season staging.  I can get into it with our SW winds without any problems of spooked deer as well. 

    Here my buddy Frank is attaching the climbing sticks.  He was a huge help, as it's a tough job by yourself to set it all up and cut the lanes.  We often tag team stand setups on his lands and mine. 

    Now the lock on is being attached to the red oak that just seemed to be in a great spot.

    With Frank in the stand here I am with a 14' pole saw knocking out some shooting lanes. 

    Here you can see how valuable of a tool these are as you can really reach out and trim some branches that would otherwise be out of reach.  To follow is me wrestling with a larger branch... It was kicking my butt, but I ultimately won the battle!

     

    Op. Massive deer tracks captured with two cool trailcam photos!

    by Scott Abbott 3. August 2009 09:21
    Scott Abbott

    Two months into my quest to locate the buck who was leaving some big tracks on my hunting grounds is finally a success.  I had a camera up for two months with no results just some young bucks, does and fawns. 

    The night before last I finally decided enough was enough. With less than two months until the start of deer season, I needed to determine who was leaving behind the big tracks.  That evening was perfect for big buck movement as we had storms blow through earlier in the day dropping the temps and bringing in a nice layer of fog for that evening.  About 45 minutes before dusk I saw a tall rack bobbing along 500 yards away through my spotting scope.  Between the fog and the distance I could see it was a lopsided rack but couldn't gather any more details.  So yesterday I checked the spot and sure enough... There were his tracks in the wet dirt.  I then moved a camera into position knowing that I would be back there today to hang a stand in a new area to take advantage of a great spot from this years crop rotation. 

    Today when I arrived I went straight to the Covert Assassin II camera hanging on a fence post to see if I got any results last night...  The overnight recon was a success as I got about a half dozen pictures of this buck with two beautiful dawn photos.

    I really don't know how I feel about this buck as far as a shooter, I just don't think this is what I am looking for.  He is a great buck, only stand time and a shot opportunity at him will really let me know how I feel.  If he gives me that feeling (you know the one) I will take a shot, if not I will keep looking for something else.  Just as of now, it's a no go.

     With out further ado....  The "Massive Tracks" buck!

    He looks like he has a broken off g2 tine on his left side, you can see some dried velvet hanging down in the photos.  The time is off 12 hours on the camera however.  It was 6:14 AM not PM.

     

     One of the night photos of him.

     

    Tags:

    Op. Massive deer tracks captured with two cool trailcam photos!

    by Scott Abbott 3. August 2009 03:21
    Scott Abbott

    Two months into my quest to locate the buck who was leaving some big tracks on my hunting grounds is finally a success.  I had a camera up for two months with no results just some young bucks, does and fawns. 

    The night before last I finally decided enough was enough. With less than two months until the start of deer season, I needed to determine who was leaving behind the big tracks.  That evening was perfect for big buck movement as we had storms blow through earlier in the day dropping the temps and bringing in a nice layer of fog for that evening.  About 45 minutes before dusk I saw a tall rack bobbing along 500 yards away through my spotting scope.  Between the fog and the distance I could see it was a lopsided rack but couldn't gather any more details.  So yesterday I checked the spot and sure enough... There were his tracks in the wet dirt.  I then moved a camera into position knowing that I would be back there today to hang a stand in a new area to take advantage of a great spot from this years crop rotation. 

    Today when I arrived I went straight to the Covert Assassin II camera hanging on a fence post to see if I got any results last night...  The overnight recon was a success as I got about a half dozen pictures of this buck with two beautiful dawn photos.

    I really don't know how I feel about this buck as far as a shooter, I just don't think this is what I am looking for.  He is a great buck, only stand time and a shot opportunity at him will really let me know how I feel.  If he gives me that feeling (you know the one) I will take a shot, if not I will keep looking for something else.  Just as of now, it's a no go.

     With out further ado....  The "Massive Tracks" buck!

    He looks like he has a broken off g2 tine on his left side, you can see some dried velvet hanging down in the photos.  The time is off 12 hours on the camera however.  It was 6:14 AM not PM.

     

     One of the night photos of him.

     

    Blind buck captured on trail camera.

    by Scott Abbott 31. July 2009 03:15
    Scott Abbott

    Well, not completely blind anyhow.  To follow is a few photos of a buck who appears to be blind in his left eye as well as a non typical antler on the same side. 

    He appears to be at least 3 years old and has always traveled alone when I have got trail cam photos of him at my mineral lick.  The trail camera photos really make me wonder what happened to him to cause the damage...  Was it a tine from a sparring match, a tree limb or possibily he was born that way? 

     

    Any ideas?

     

     

    Tags:

    Blind buck captured on trail camera.

    by Scott Abbott 30. July 2009 21:15
    Scott Abbott

    Well, not completely blind anyhow.  To follow is a few photos of a buck who appears to be blind in his left eye as well as a non typical antler on the same side. 

    He appears to be at least 3 years old and has always traveled alone when I have got trail cam photos of him at my mineral lick.  The trail camera photos really make me wonder what happened to him to cause the damage...  Was it a tine from a sparring match, a tree limb or possibily he was born that way? 

     

    Any ideas?

     

     

    One buck, three years of antler growth.

    by Scott Abbott 25. July 2009 22:26
    Scott Abbott

    Here is the only buck that I have ever got three years worth of photos from.... I thought it was a cool progression of photos showing his changes each year. Hope you guys enjoy it.

    He started out as a decent looking yearling...  These first four photos were taken using a Moultrie D40 trail camera.

     

     

    He didn't put on as much antler as I expected as a 2 year old, but he was a decent 100-110" buck anyhow.

     

     

    Now as a three year old he took off pretty well, he has a great frame and spread.  I think he is now a pretty solid buck who I would shoot if given the opportunity this fall as we have a good bit of history together.  I saw him in 07 and 08 as well as finding his match set of sheds last winter.   These next two photos were taken with a DLC Covert Assassin II trail camera.  The deer in the last photo was blacked out to avoid any confusion on the buck in question.

     

    The Four beam buck.... Chapter four.

    by Scott Abbott 25. July 2009 06:42
    Scott Abbott

    The story continues..... (Past entry http://www.bowhunting.com/blog/post/2009/03/13/The-third-chapter-(The-4-Beam-Buck).aspx )

     Many hours of glassing this summer have yielded zero sightings of this buck.  Knowing I would not be able to glass this past week from overtime at work, I put a camera up to keep tabs on what is going on.  A lot can change in a week as far as deer activity and I didn't want to miss out.

    To my udder shock and amazement, I found a few photos of this buck.... In daylight!  All the hours I spent glassing here this year... Nothing of him.  Four days into the week with my camera keeping tabs on the area he shows up.  Kind of funny how it works out.  I would have rather saw him for the first time this year in person rather than via camera but I am just glad to know he is still around.  

     From the photos it looks like he is a 7X3.

    Here are the photos!

     

     

     

     

     

    The "Tank" lives on?

    by Scott Abbott 11. July 2009 07:43
    Scott Abbott

    I had glassed some decent bucks on this property a few weeks ago so I set a camera up to hopefully get a better look at them.  I could tell one had a non matching unique rack from first glance. Reminiscent of the "Tank".  ( link to a journal entry on him http://www.bowhunting.com/blog/post/2009/03/16/Case-closed-on-the-Tank.aspx )

    If this guy isn't the same bloodline as the "tank" than that sure is a remarkable concidnce... Feeding in the same fields on the same farm that the "Tank" did.  The non-typical side of each buck is eerily similar although on different sides....  The Tank went missing fall of 2007 and this buck appears to be a 2 1/2 year old for 2009.

     What do you say....  The "Tank" lives on, or just a coincidence?  I'd like to hear your opinions.

     The "Tank"....

     

    The buck in question....

     

    Operation Massive Tracks.

    by Scott Abbott 10. July 2009 23:16
    Scott Abbott

    For the better part of the last month I have assigned myself to "Operation Massive Tracks".  In early June I was checking out the progress of the beans at one of my hunting spots and cut the trail of a great set of tracks.  The area I found these tracks in is a small portion of the field that is not planted due to the farmer not getting all of the new drain tile in before planting season begun this spring.   Next year this spot will be in agriculture again.

    Since the discovery, I have been glassing the area roughly three evenings per week for the past five weeks and have had a trail camera monitoring a mineral site for the past four weeks. I have not had any results finding a clue to who left these impressive tracks behind yet.  I really can't say if these tracks were left by a buck traveling  through this property to his summer grounds else where or if they are from a local buck I just cannot get on.

    Here you can see it (the track) is a little better than a four finger wide walking track at the widest point.

    They are also a splayed four finger track from the dew claw to the leading edge of the track.  A slammer of a track on all accounts.

    On the way out today from checking the camera I saw this guy hanging out catching the last little bit of nice weather before the heavy thunderstorms rolled through the area...  Sure hope he hasn't been feasting on my""massive tracks" buck that I cannot locate!

    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.

    A walk, then a drive.

    by Scott Abbott 9. February 2009 11:12
    Scott Abbott

    Went out shedn' today.   I put about 4 more hours on the boots during this outing.  I have nothing to show for it though but some muddy boot tracks in the corn fields....

    With about 1 hour and 15 minutes of light left I could see the deer starting to come out into the field a few hundred yards away.  Knowing how rough our winter has been on the herd this year I quietly backed out and let them have the field.  I decided to go for a ride to finish out the day.

    We have had between 1 and 2 feet of snow for well over a month and it just started melting off two days ago. The once again exposed ground really got the deer up and moving around.  About an hour of driving today yielded 72 deer sightings (not one deer was carrying any antler).  In comparison, I had saw maybe a dozen deer the whole month of January.  Seeing that many deer this evening with no antler what-so-ever gives me some extra motivation to get out there after the shed antlers before someone else or the rodents get them.

    All of the deer that I saw today were either in cut corn fields or pasture type fields. What are you seeing in your area?

     I have to say though, it was nice to see some whitetail again!

    Tags:

    2009 Bowhunting Season Begins

    by Justin Zarr 25. January 2009 15:41
    Justin Zarr

    The saying has become quite cliche over the past few years, but despite my hesitance to use it, bowhunting truly is a full time job for those of us who take it seriously.  The Illinois archery season has only been closed for 10 days and we're already planning for the fall.  Priority one was to secure some additional hunting grounds closer to home for those times when a 10 hour round trip just isn't feasible.  Not only will it save us some money on gas and wear and tear on our vehicles, but it will make our wives happy to have us home a little more often too!  So like a good friend of mine says, we're starting from "Ground Zero" yet again this year.

    Fortunately our good friend Brian Bychowski with Pine Ridge Archery was able to locate a potential lease for us in Northwest Illinois.  Not wanting to wait and risk losing out to another group of bowhunters Brian, Mike Willand, and yours truly headed out this morning to check things out.  With quite a bit of snow on the ground we figured both deer sign and the lay of the land would be easy to spot.  So despite the single digit temperatures we headed out for a 2 hour walk to check things out.


    Brian walking the edge of a standing corn field where we found quite a bit of deer sign.

    This particular piece of land is made up of two distinct areas.  One is several steep wooded draws bordered by agricultural fields, the other a mix of agriculture, old pasture ground, and some small draws loaded with raspberry thickets and cedars.  So unlike our other hunting spot in the West Central part of the state, we have both bedding as well as food.  With about 30 acres of standing corn divided up between three fields this particular farm was absolutely LOADED with deer sign.  Considering we're in the middle of one of the snowiest winters in Illinois history and have had sub-zero temperatures quite frequently since the new year the deer are really drawn to this food soure, which is both good as well as bad.  While we enjoy seeing all of the sign and knowing there's a lot of deer in an area we may potentially hunt, it also provides a false sense of what the property really holds for deer.


    We found quite a few big beds like this one in several of the cedar thickets on the property, where the deer are no doubt resting up while trying to get out of the elements.


    An easy way to spot a good fence crossing - deer hair caught in the barbed wire.

    Overall, it looks like a spot with a lot of potential.  Although we did find a treestand every 100 yards or so along the South edge of the property, which is common for most of Illinois, I think we're still going to go ahead and pick up this lease.  The combination of food and bedding, along with some really good terrain features shows some definite promise and certainly beats not having a spot to hunt at all!  Most likely we'll make a trip back near the end of February or beginning of March to look for shed antlers and possible clear a few stand sets for this fall.  I really want to have all of our stands hung and/or cleared by the end of April this year and save ourselves the death of hanging stands during the heat of July and August.  Come summertime all I want to be doing is shooting my bow and checking my trail cameras and that's it!


    Standing corn - a deer's best friend come mid-January!

    /
    Another view of a standing corn field at the top of the wooded draws.

    The heart of shed hunting season is only 2-3 weeks away now which means Mike and I will be hitting things pretty hard in search of some bone.  We're planning to hit our lease down South as well as our local spots and try to pick up a few sheds from some of the bucks that gave us the slip this past season. 

    I will also be shooting in the Bowhunting.com Indoor Spots league as well, trying to hone my shooting skills a little bit more than last year so I don't choke and miss again!

       
    Tags:

    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?

    Cuddeback Capture Continues to Perform

    by Justin Zarr 14. November 2008 03:04
    Justin Zarr

    It looks like that last week of October when the temps gold cold really brought the big guys out to hit the scrape lines. I put my Cuddeback Capture out in Mid-October in an area where scrapes usually open up and sure enough one did about 5 days after I put my camera out. It looks like I've got two really good shootable 10 pointers, one scary looking 2 1/2 year old 6 point, and a nice 2 1/2 year old 8 point that I have quite a few pics of from this year and last year when he was a dink 1 1/2 year old buck.  It's really good to see that we have a few shooters running around this farm as I didn't get any good buck pictures during the summer, which is mostly attributed to lack of food on this farm.  However this area still held quite a few doe groups which I'm sure is what brought these guys out of hiding.

    Unfortunately a few days ago we found a nice roadkill buck on this property with his rack cut off so I'm hoping its not one of the two big guys as I'll be back hunting this farm now that I'm home from our trip.

    This first buck looks like a 3 1/2 year old deer to me. He has good shoulder depth, but his backend is pretty small and he still has a tight stomach which indicates that he's a younger deer. If he makes it another year this guy is gonna blow into a 160-170" buck for sure.  He's probably pushing 150" right now as it is and will definitely warrant an arrow from me if he gets close enough.  It's also very possible that we saw this buck a bunch of times last year as a 2 1/2.  We had one good 9 point that was in the 120" range running around last fall that had very similar coloration and shape to his rack.  It's hard to tell without more pictures or matching up sheds, but it certainly could be the same deer.





    Now this is definitely an older buck. He is at least 4.5 if not 5.5. I believe this is the camera shy 10 pointer I've gotten photos of the past two seasons, but without a head-on shot it's hard to tell. He's got really good mass and long, arrow straight brows that are characteristic of that particular buck. If you look at this chest where his neck meets into his body and how deep that is, along with his slightly sagging stomach, large hindquarters, and "short" looking legs you can tell he is truly a mature deer. I'd love to get a look at this guy!





    Here's the scary looking 6 pointer. We've traditionally had some really big 6 point bucks on this farm over the years (3 year olds and older) but haven't seen those particular genetics in a few years until now. He gets a pass this year, but next year he'll be a candidate for the wall.



    And this is a buck I've nicknamed 'Scar'. Very original, I know. But it's like the bad lion brother from The Lion King. You know what I'm talking about.  Last year we had some pics of him when his side was all torn open, but obviously it healed and he made it. A good 2 1/2 year old buck that should be P&Y next year despite his complete lack of brown tines. Again, he'll get a pass from me this year but next fall he won't be so lucky.  Notice how dark his tarsal glands are - this buck is in full rut for sure!



    I've got two more cameras to check this weekend that have been out since Mid-October so I'm hoping to get a few more buck photos, hopefully a few more of these 10 pointers and possibly some other big bucks that seem to show up out of nowhere during the fall.

    All of these images were taken with my new Cuddeback Capture trail camera, which still had plenty of battery life after being in the woods for nearly a month.  I've said it multiple times that for $200 you'll be hard pressed to find a better trail camera right now.  We have them in stock and ready to ship here at Bowhunting.com so get them out in the woods while you still can, now is the time to get some good photos!!  Click here to buy now.

    Tags:

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

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

    IT WON”T BE LONG NOW

      

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

     

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

     

     

    The Big 10

     

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

     

    I can almost reach it.

     

     

    Giving it a thrashing.

     

     

     

     

             Another visitor. 

     

     

    Big bodied 8 pointer.

     

     

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

      

    Trail Cameras: The Good and The Bad

    by Justin Zarr 22. October 2008 17:04
    Justin Zarr

    Over the past decade or so, few products have hit the hunting world by storm like the trail camera has.  When the first cameras came out on the market those few short years ago there weren't a lot of options.  In fact, there were only 2-3 manufacturers and all of their units worked pretty much the same.  You put batteries and 35mm film in them, strapped them to a tree, and they used passive infrared motion detectors to sense an animal and take it's picture.  These early units were pretty expensive, in many cases upwards of $500 each. 

    As more and more hunters started using these new-fangled devices more and more manufacturers started popping up and pretty soon the market was full of trail cameras of all makes, models, and sizes.  As this happened, loads of information on how to use them, where to use them, and when to use them also started to appear.  Many hunters felt that with a trail camera they could pattern that nocturnal trophy buck they've been after for years and finally put him on their way.  And as many bowhunters sadly found out, that wasn't quite the case.  Trail cameras or not, killing big deer on a consistant basis is still hard!

    In the early 2000's the first digital trail cameras hit the market.  Much like their 35mm predecessors, they too were fairly expensive and sometimes unreliable.  But as technology got better and prices came down, the digital trail camera quickly replaced the film camera and became the staus quo for scouting cameras.  Today there are literally dozens of cameras on the market from a variety of manufacturers that range in price from less than $100 to more than $500.  How do you decide which one is right for you?

    For me, the first factor in deciding which camera I want to purchase is price.  Like most bowhunters, I set a budget for myself when it comes to bowhunting expenses and have to pick and choose which products I really need, and which I can live without.  I try to purchase at least one new trail camera each year to either replace old cameras that I am retiring, or to cover additional ground looking for more bucks.  I currently own 4 different cameras and try to keep them out from the end of July through the end of January, even into February.  This helps me get an accurate feeling for the amount and quality of deer in my hunting area.  So in my case, it makes more sense to purchase two less expensive cameras and cover more ground than to purchase one expensive area and risk missing photos that could alert me to a presence of a buck I never knew existed.


    I like to use my cameras to get an inventory of the deer on my hunting grounds at any given time during the year, not necessarily to try and pattern and hunt them.  I still rely on good old fashioned scouting, planning, and a lot of luck for that!

    The second biggest factor for me is trigger speed and reliability.  For anyone who owns a trail camera and has experienced the frustration of a blank roll of film or an empty memory card you know what I'm talking about.  Its like opening up a present on Christmas day only to find out there's nothing inside!  I have personally owned several brands of trail cameras that were extremely unreliable even under controlled conditions inside my own home when testing them out.  Needless to say, I don't own them any more.  Instead I have chosen to do as much online research as possible about the cameras before I buy them.  The Internet is a great place to read real-world reviews and find out which products are working, and which aren't.  When it comes to trail cameras, you can read a lot of great information about them right here at Bowhunting.com and also at our sister website Trailcam.com.  This will help you make an educated decision as to which cameras to avoid and which are getting good reviews.

    With the exception of those two major factors, there are also some secondary features to consider.  Battery life can very greatly from camera to camera and determine how often you need to check your cameras, and how much money you will end up spending on batteries over the course of the season.  Some cameras allow you to hook up an external battery pack to them for longer run time even in the coldest conditions.

    Flash type is another big factor for many bowhunters when choosing a trail camera.  With the recent surge in popularity of infrared flash cameras, many people are getting away from traditional flashes which they feel may spook animals, most notably mature animals that are more reclusive and sensitive to human intrusion.  Personally, I feel that it's hit or miss when it comes to flash type.  I believe some animals are scared of any type of flash, traditional or infrared, and in fact are scared of trail cameras even during the daytime as well.  Naturally, they usually contain human scent from us handling them and some models stick out like a sore thumb on the side of a tree.  Despite the fact that they may spook some animals, I personally believe that it doesn't negatively effect your hunting opportunities provided you play your cards right.  Don't put your cameras right on top of your best hunting spots.  Rather, put them in well-used travel corridors or on community scrapes to get a better idea of overall inventory of deer in your area verus trying to find out what deer is walking by your stand, and when.  Good hunting techniques will never be replaced by info from scouting cameras, no matter how hard we try.

    In conclustion, my two personal favorite cameras right now are the Cuddeback Capture and the Moultrie I40.  The Cuddeback is a 3.0 megapixel camera with traditional flash that is super easy to use, has good battery life, and is extremely reliable when it comes to trigger speed and sensitivity.  The Moultrie I40 is a 4.0 megapixel camera with infrared flash that takes great photos and has extremely good battery life thanks to its 6 D-cell batteries.  The Cuddeback Capture is available here at Bowhunting.com for $199 and the Moultrie I40 for $219.99.  For the bowhunter on a budget looking for a good camera that won't let you down, either of these would be a great choice.


    The Cuddeback Capture is a new camera for this year, but has performed very well for me so far.


    This photo is a great example of what you can expect from the Cuddeback Capture.  Photo clarity and flash range are excellent, and this buck doesn't seem to mind the flash one bit.


    The Moultrie I40 has a lot of great features including infrared flash, superior battery life and great image quality, but it is a bit bulky and cumbersome to use.  Once you get past that, it's a great camera at a great price.


    The Moultrie I40 takes great color images during the day, and black and white images at night using the infrared flash.

    If you're interested in higher end features including true invisible IR flash, 3 shot burst mode, extreme battery life, and extreme sensitivity check out Todd Graf's review of the Recoynx trail cameras by clicking here.

       

    Moultrie I40 Trail Camera Review

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

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

    The Moultrie I40.

     

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

    2 turkeys in my food plot.

    A doe in the plot.

     

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

     

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

    Some of the neat features of this camera are:

    1. 3 different still picture settings for picture quility.

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

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

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

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

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

    7. Easy to set up and reset after checking.

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

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

    Some things I would like to see changed:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Final Preparations For Bowhunting Season

    by Justin Zarr 21. September 2008 16:38
    Justin Zarr

    It never seems to fail; no matter how good our intentions are for getting stands hung and trimmed out months before the season starts, life seems to find a way to deviate us from those plans.  In my particular case, I've been planning a wedding for the past 13 months which has taken a lot of time away from my normal routine of scouting, stand hanging, and general preparation for bowhunting season.  In fact, it's less than 10 days until the Illinois archery season opens and I haven't purchased my tags or even shot any broadheads yet!  Although I do plan on getting a few shooting sessions in this week if at all possible.  I'll be back in town on October 5th and plan to hit the ground running when I get return, so it's definitely time to start getting things in gear.

    This past Saturday Mike and I spent some time hanging the last few stands, trimming the last few lanes, and making the last of our pre-season preparations at our local hunting spots.  It's amazing to me how grown up some of these stands can get after only one season.  Shooting lanes that were clear last year have grown over and needed a little bit of TLC before the season opens, which is just what we gave them.  I was able to give my Hooyman Extentible Tree Saw its first workout of the year and overall I was happy with it.  I'm a little hard on my saws and pretty critical of their performance, but overall it held up well.  It definitely works better as an extentible saw than a traditional hand saw as the handle was a little flimsy for my liking.  My Felco hand saw still can't be beat for standard duty, but for those pesky limbs and twigs that are out of arm's reach, the Hooyman works great.  I would definitely recommend this product to any bowhunter who does a lot of standing hanging both before and during their bowhunting seasons.  If you're interested in trying one out, we have them for sale in our shopping cart right here on Bowhunting.com for only $38.99.

    We also happened on our first rubs of the year as well.  With the bucks having shed their velvet their testosterone levels are starting to pick up a bit so we should be seeing more and more rubs pop up over the next few weeks, and pretty soon a few scrapes as well.  I can't wait!


    This is the kind of stuff that should get every bowhunter excited for the fall!  We found this fresh rub in a heavy fencerow between two standing corn fields that connects two small woodlots.  It's a great place to catch a buck traveling if they leave the corn up.  But once the corn comes down these bucks don't like being caught out in the open during daylight unless they're chasing a hot doe in November.

    Speaking of hard horned bucks, I got my first trail camera pictures of bucks who had shed their velvet.  One is a tight-racked 10 pointer that I have several pictures of throughout the summer months.  I originally thought this buck was older than he really is, as he looks like a 2 1/2 year old buck to me.  He also exhibits the exact same characteristics of so many other bucks on this property over the past 6 years we've been hunting it.  Narrow rack, short brows, and G3's that are every so slightly longer than his G2's.    I don't think he has the genetics to blow into anything huge, but I guess we'll have to wait and see over the next few years if he makes it through.


    This buck is a perfect representative of the type  of genetics we have on this particular farm.  Year after year, fresh crops of bucks pop up with racks that look identical to one another.

    The second buck was the first antlered deer photo I've gotten all summer on what we call the "main farm" property.  It's hard to be totally sure, but I believe that we got a few photos of this particular buck last year during the late season.  At the time he had what looked like a fresh wound on his left side and we wondered if he would make it through the season.  Well, if this photo is indeed the same buck (and I think it is) it looks like he's doing just fine.  He appears to be either a 2 1/2 or 3 1/2 year old buck with either very small or no brow tines.  I'm sure I'll get a few more looks at him this fall once I get my cameras over some scrapes, so I'm looking forward to getting to see his rack a little better.  This is also the 2nd group of photos from my Cuddeback Capture and so far I've been very happy with it's performance.  Flash range is good, batteries are holding strong after nearly a month, and I haven't had any motion-blur problems like I did with my Cuddeback Excite.  For a $200 you can't beat it right now.  Check them out over at Trailcam.com, we have them in stock and ready to ship!


    It's a little hard to tell from this small photo, but this buck appears to have some healed-over scars on his left side just behind his shoulder as well as right in front of his hind leg.  I think this is the same buck we got two photos of last year during the late season.

    This will probably be my last update until October as I've got a busy week ahead of me followed by my wedding next Saturday (GULP) and then a week-long trip to Mexico.  I should be nice and rested when I get back and ready to get in a tree and shoot something!  Good luck to everyone who is hunting - be safe and shoot straight!

        
    Summer wouldn't be complete without at least one trespasser randomly walking through the woods that are clearly posted with "NO TRESPASSING" signs on all 4 sides.  I just wish the photo was a little bit more clear so I could make out who this jackrod is, and what we's got in his hand.  Kinda looks like a camcorder to me??

    Pre-Season Check-up: Food Sources

    by Scott Abbott 7. September 2008 11:10
    Scott Abbott

    The clock has been ticking time away, summer is now all but gone. I look at the calender to find myself three Saturdays shy of opening day.  This time of year is always hectic. Finishing up chores at home, checking game cameras, getting our gear tuned up and loose ends taken care of for autumns duties.

    Today I spent a few hours checking on the local agriculture, as well as the hard and soft mast crops.

     

     

     

    Most of the beans in the area are still green. A few fields are starting to show the signs of the impending harvest season by turning yellow.  I anticipate the deer moving out of the beans in the next couple weeks.

     

     

    The corn kernels have dried out and the stocks and leaves are now turning yellow like the beans.  As you can see the animals are feasting on an outstanding growing seasons bounty.  The corn harvest will be some of the best in years.

     

     

    Disappointed, I was not able to locate any areas with a high concentration of white oaks bearing mast.  The acorns were hit or miss.  All that I was able to locate were still green with very few of them on the ground.   This could very well be a blessing with the acorns still green.  With any luck they will wait to drop on or after our opener on September 27th.

     

     

    The apple output this year is phenomenal, the wildlife are scarfing up the cast apples as fast as they fall.  I only wish I had an apple grove to set up on this fall. I am sure they will be a hot food source around opening day where they are available.




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