Checking Trail Cameras with Landen

Hiking buddy Landen

Landen giving me a crazy look while we were out checking trail cameras.


Cottontail rabbit

One of the Cottontail Rabbits we saw on our trip up the mountian.


Selfie of Landen and me while checking trail cameras

Here's a selfie of Landen and me during our hike to check the trail cameras.


Four leaf clovers

Who says it's hard to find four leaf clovers?


Back out in August to check the trail cameras. This time with my son Landen.

At our first camera we found the handy work of a black bear. The homemade NiMh external battery pack was destroyed with batteries on the ground and the camera was ripped from the tree. I'm going to get more of Browning's full metal security boxes to place the cameras in where I have problems with bears.

Upon checking the cameras there was once again far more bears on cameras than elk. Where have the elk gone? :(

Landen and I had a nice hike. It was great to get some one on one time with him. He's a fun kid. He liked to make funny faces every time I'd pull out the camera. He was a trooper and hiked all over the place with me looking for different possible locations for placing trail cameras.

We were hoping to find a bunch of elk on the cameras but alas they just are still a little far and few this year. There is a lot of feed on the mountain this summer so apparently the elk just haven't felt the need to frequent this area very much.

Unfortunately from a hunting perspective I can't just move and hunt where the elk are as most of the mountain is locked up in a CWMU so I have to try and catch the "scraps" that might fall from the table, so to speak. This spot requires that the elk come to me because it is backed in so close to the CWMU. I really don't have much of an option other than to hope they come out of the iron curtain.

We have been seeing a lot more cottontail rabbits this year and this trip out was no exception. We were able to get one to pause long enough to snap a few pics of the critter.

Landen driving montero


I let Landen take the wheel of my old Montero for the trip back down the mountain. He did a wonderful job especially for his first time driving and only being eleven years old, although he is 5'10" and 175 lbs. Good job Landen!





Spirit Ridge Rifle Golf - 300 Win Mag Model 1885

Tee Off With A Bang at Spirit Ridge

Dallen, my father in law, brother in law and nephew at Spirit Ridge.


Calculating slope angle with Strelok Pro

Using the slope angle camera calculator feature inside of Strelok Pro. This is really cool. You touch the Slope Angle field in the App and a camera view opens up with a crosshair. Just place the crosshair on the target area and press ok and it uses the phone to give you the angle of the shot.


Winchester Model 1885 in 300 Win Mag and 208 Hornady A-Max bullet

Winchester Model 1885 in 300 Win Mag sporting a Vortex Viper PST 6-24x50 MOA second focal plane rifle scope and my 208 Hornady A-Max load.


This summer I was able to shoot at Spirit Ridge Rifle Golf course on two occasions. The first trip I used my Winchester Model 1885 in 300 Win Mag and shot 215 Berger Hybrid bullets. 

On this first trip there were a few fliers that I just couldn't explain other than there was something wrong with the rifle. Upon returning home I shot some groups at 300 yards with the 215 Berger Hybrid and the 208 A-Max. Both five shot groups were in the 5 inch range. Not very stellar. I looked over the rifle and found the the forearm wood was touching the barrel. I thought that I had fixed this when I first setup the rifle. A little sanding and some polyurethane and the barrel was back free floating.

A second trip to the range to shoot groups at 300 yards turn in much better results. A 3 inch five shot group for the 215 Bergers and about a 2 inch five shot group for the 208 A-Max. This was much better. I was now ready for another trip to Spirit Ridge.

On my second trip to Spirit Ridge I decided to shot the 208 A-Max out of my Model 1885 since they grouped better at 300 yards.  I'm probably going to tweak my 215 Berger Hybrid load a little more before I shoot them at long range again although a 3 inch group at 300 yards is a minute of angle I think I can get them shooting a little better.

The biggest thing I learned from this trip is that I need to learn to judge and calculate the wind.

Being able to make shots on targets at long range requires a good rifle, high ballistic coefficient bullets, a good tactical scope, sub MOA accurate loads and a ballistics app to calculate the shots. My app of choice is Strelok Pro combined with the weather censors inside my Samsung Galaxy S4 android phone. Strelok Pro was dead on both days with targets ranging from 350 to 1,000 yards. My misses were always the result of judging the wind incorrectly.

The highlight of the round was hitting the small Master's course 1,000 yard target. For hitting the target a got another 1,000 Club cap from my friends at Spirit Ridge. I got my first 1,000 Club cap last year shooting my Model 1885 chambered in 270 WSM.


Bears and More Bears on Trail Camera

Browning Strike Force BTC-5HD trail camera bear attack

Here is how I found my Strike Force BTC-5HD trail camera. The bears had ripped my 12 Volt AA NiMh external battery pack off the tree and twisted the BTC-5HD camera around the tree. The latch door was open and luckily the bears didn't rip the door off. I might need to lock the latch to prevent the door from coming open.


KB checking trail cameras

My hiking buddy KB helping me check my trail cameras.


Selfie of KB and me while checking trail cameras

Here's a selfie of KB and me during our hike to check the trail cameras.


Rock squirrel

This rock squirrel was checking me out during the hike up the mountain.


Back out checking the trail cameras in July has turned up a great deal of black bears. Unfortunately I have only one elk on the cameras while compared to last year during this same time period in 2014 when there was a lot of elk traffic in the area. I'm starting to question archery hunting the area this year. Maybe I'll hunt elk with my muzzleloader this year. Hmm...

As you can see from the videos on this page the bears are back to working on trying to rip my trail cameras off the trees. So far they haven't been successful in doing so with my BTC-7FHD and BTC-5HD cameras. The reinforced mounting brackets on the newer Browning trail cameras have been great, especially the metal bracket on the Recon Force BTC-7FHD cameras.

Bears and elk have the best noses and if you have watched many of my trail camera video clips you can see how quickly they can find my cameras with their noses. I might need to try spraying them down with a scent killer when I set them up and see if that helps keep them from messing with them.

Another thing I have noticed this year is that I am getting Mountain Lions on the cameras from time to time. Maybe the lions have been scaring off the elk? I doubt it.

Checking Trail Cameras - Using a Motorized Pack Wheel

Pack Wheel 20 inch wheel with Electric Motor

This is my XL 26 inch wheeled Pack Wheel frame with a 20 inch wheel and e-bike motor kit installed.


Motorized Hiking Cart loaded with roswheel panniers

Roswheel panniers loaded up with 45 pounds in each side.


Single stitched seem ripped out

I really like these panniers however when the large buckle snapped open upon hitting a bump it caused the single stitched sidewall to rip. I have since replaced the buckles and used my leather awl to stitch around the sidewalls to reinforce the poorly sewn single stitching.


Browning trail camera lock box.

After getting a couple trail cameras stolen this past winter I decided to try out the Browning lock boxes watching a trail that is most likely to have other people traveling.

To lock up the box and cable it to the tree I used a Master Lock 1317DSPT Cable Lock. I did have to trim off about a quarter inch of rubber on the lock arm to get it to thread through the lock box enough to lock the pad lock.


Redbreated Nuthatch

I found some Redbreasted Nuthatches bringing in bugs to feed their young. Looks like they like to catch spiders for food.


Redbreated Nuthatch

Redbreated Nuthatch at the entrance of it's nest cavity.


Even though the Pack Wheel with a 250W motorized 29er wheel worked pretty darn well a couple weeks ago I wanted to test other sizes of wheels with the motor to see the difference in torque and speed that the motor would provide. This time out checking my trail cameras I was also testing some a little different style of panniers made by Roswheel on my Pack Wheel.

I acquired some spokes and a 20 inch rim and relaced the motorized hub on this small wheel. I placed the wheel on my Pack Wheel that I normally have a 26 inch wheel on. The 20 inch wheel lowered the overall height of the Pack Wheel by 3 inches which is well within the height window to still be comfortable to operate.

I traveled the same game trails that I did a couple weeks prior with the 29 inch Pack Wheel with motor. This time out I had 45 pounds on each side of the Pack Wheel. I quickly noticed considerably more power from this motor and wheel size combination. As long as I wasn't going over larger obstacles the power the motor provided was great. However it didn't take long for me to realize how much I love my 26 and 29 inch wheels on the Pack Wheel. A 20 inch wheel just doesn't roll over obstacles like the bigger wheels do. Even with the motor the 20 inch wheel just didn't like to go over the dead fall trees that I normally can bump right over with the 26 and 29 inch wheels.

I did find that the 20 wheel still liked to go a little faster that I liked to hike but all in all it wasn't too bad considering that it had more power. With the Pack Wheel loaded down it did slow down the speed and had pretty darn good assisting power to help on the really steep inclines.

I was hoping that there would be enough power to push the wheel up against a large rock or dead fall tree and be able to lower my arms, rocking the weight off the wheel onto my arms and while pushing the wheel against the obstacle use the motor to "rock crawl" over the obstacle. However there just wasn't enough power to do this with the 90 pounds of weight I had in the panniers. If I only had 50 pounds or so in the panniers it may have had the power.

Now in the small wheel's defense I was hauling 90 lbs in the panniers on the Pack Wheel and going up game trails. I wasn't on a well groomed hiking trails. In both test runs the motor on both the 29 and the 20 inch wheel did greatly assist in helping me haul gear up the mountain.

At one point I tried to bump the wheel over a tree like I do with the 26 and 29er wheels and the wheel just stopped hard against it causing one of the buckles on the panniers to snap unloose and the 45 lbs of weight in that side of the panniers caused the single stitched sidewall to rip out the stitching right down the seem. Oops!

After this trip I replaced the two large buckles on the Roswheel panniers with stronger buckles that won't accidentally come unsnapped. I also took my leather awl and stitched down the sides where the weight of the load likes to stress the stitching. I really like these panniers with the reinforcements in place and they should be fine for future trips out. It's too bad Roswheel only single stitches around the sidewalls with a really lightweight thread. The panniers design is really nice and works really well with the Pack Wheel. They just skimped a little on the buckles and stitching.

I think I will try this same motor with a 24 or 26 inch wheel on the Pack Wheel. I also think a more powerful 500W motor that was lower geared might be the best solution. I'll keep playing around. For now the motor does work well and assist a lot in hauling heavy loads up the mountain I just want to keep tinkering with it to find the best motorized solution.

At my forth camera I quickly realized the bears were in the area. The camera and NiMh external battery pack were ripped off the tree. Sure enough the footage shows just a glimpse of the bear just before he rips the camera off the tree. Dang bears!

I just picked up a couple Browning Lock Boxes to secure cameras in areas where I think they might get stolen however I'm also thinking these boxes would be great for keeping bears from busting up my trail cameras. Hmm...

Here's some of the footage from the trail cameras from checking them this time out. There's a few young bull elk in the area however overall there are fewer elk in the area compared to the past two years. In fact I have no sign of the elk on the cameras moving down into the canyon where they would frequent from time to time in the past. Hopefully they start to move in to the area on occasion especially the last of August and first of September so that I have at least a little chance of getting an elk with my bow. These videos were taken on new 2015 Browning Trail Cameras, a Strike Force BTC-5HD and Recon Force BTC-7FHD cameras.

Mountain Lion on BTC-5HD trail Camera

Mountain Lion on BTC-5HD trail Camera

Looks like there's a Mountain Lion hanging around the area.


The Lion was back on the same trail a few days later.


Green Tailed Towhee nest

One horned Mule Deer in velvet

A Green Tailed Towhee nest I found. They must just be starting to lay eggs with only one egg in the nest.


Not sure if I have ever seen a mule deer in velvet with only a single antler.


Roswheel panniers on 29er Pack Wheel

Top view of the Roswheel panniers on the Pack Wheel

The Roswheel panniers look pretty slick on this 29er Pack Wheel.


Top view of the Roswheel panniers on a 29er Pack Wheel.




Motorized Pack Wheel - Hauling Trail Cameras and Mineral Blocks

Pack Wheel 29er with Electric Motor

Here's my XL 29er Pack Wheel with e-bike motor installed. With the e-bike kit installed it increased the weight by 8-9 pounds. These 250W motors aren't light. I wonder how much the 500W motors weigh.


Motorized Hiking Cart

Nearing the top of the area with my motorized Pack Wheel game cart.


Digging out elk wallow

My cousin Chase hard at work digging out the wallow I like to watch with a trail camera. It's amazing how digging out this little water hole really attracts the critters to come and drink out of it. Chase was a great help on this trip and does a darn good job running the video camera as you can see in the video below.


Browning Strike Force BTC-5HD trail camera

Here's a new Strike Force BTC-5HD trail camera. Even though the packaging states that it will only use up to a 32 gig SD card I am using a 64 gig card in this camera. The video files on this camera are really good quality but very large in disk size. This camera takes AVI video like previous Browning trail cameras while the new Recon Force BTC-7FHD camera takes even higher quality videos and stores them in a MP4 format that takes up less space on the disk. Recon Force BTC-7FHD cameras can only take up to 32 gig SD cards.


250w motor on a Pack Wheel hiking cart with disc brake

Here's a view of the 250W motor with a six bolt disc brake attachment on the Pack Wheel.


Checking the settings on a Recon Force BTC-7FHD

Say cheese. Chase and I got a "selfie" taken while setting up this Recon Force BTC-7FHD trail camera.


Wow what a wet spring we have had this year! I have been itching to get back out in the mountains for some time now. KB and I were able to put out a couple trail cameras in March when we went coyote hunting since then it have been raining like crazy. When it rains the mountain turns into a greasy mess.

So the first week of June it had cleared out enough to dry out the roads to make it up the mountain. I had a ton of gear that I wanted to haul into the area I like to archery elk hunt. I had a couple of new Recon Force BTC-7FHD, a new Strike Force BTC- 5HD and several other Browning trail cameras I wanted to set out to watch the area. I also have been making a bunch of my 12v AA NiMh DIY rechargeable battery packs to use with the cameras to help save on the alkaline batteries I have been purchasing to feed the cameras.

Here's some of the items I needed to haul into the area: I took four metal Browning Tree Mounts, a collapsible shovel, video camera, saw, eight trail cameras, 132 AA batteries, and 90 pounds of minerals to help supplement the elk's diet... ok, the minerals are to hopefully help keep the elk in the area come archery season.

So needless to say I had a crap pile of gear and I didn't want to spend all day making trips up the mountain to get all the stuff in that I needed. In the past to haul in tree stands and ground blinds I have used my 29er or 26 inch Pack Wheels to haul them in. This time I had considerably more weight in gear to take in. The Pack Wheel has been great going up the steep game trails with the gear in the past but this time I had a lot more to get in.

To get it all in one trip I wanted to try running a motor on the Pack Wheel. I picked up a 29er kit e-bike kit to see how it would work. I went with the smallest battery version available because it was the lightest. I figured that I shouldn't need a huge heavy battery because I was still be pushing and would use the motor to give me a boost on the really steep game trails. I will admit I was a little curious to see what power this motor would have with the really large 29er wheel. Simple logic made sense that the smaller the wheel the lower the gear ratio and torque/power.

The e-bike kit installed rather easily and quickly on the Pack Wheel. I did have to file out the sides of the axle slots just a smidgen to get the axle to fit down into place. I also had to use a washer shim included with the quick releases to get the disc to align with the rotor slot. The cables are way too long for the small Pack Wheel so I wound the cable around in a loop and velcro tied it to the handle and the battery pack fit nicely on the back of the handle.

On the really steep inclines the motor would get bogged down if I wasn't pushing myself but as long as I was pushing at the same time it worked really well at helping move the heavy load up the mountain. I did find that with this large 29er wheel the motor wanted to travel a little faster than I wanted to hike. All-in-all the motor helped tremendously and saved me hours of time in either taking multiple trips.

The wheel rolled completely smooth with no noise or resistance when I wasn't using the motor, just smooth free wheeling You can ever so slightly feel some resistance and hear a light noise when the wheel rolls backwards. When using the motor it creates a faint amount of noise.

I'm now going to try this motor on a 20 and or 24 inch wheel. I'm confident the smaller wheel will provide more torque and power so that the motor doesn't get bogged down as much when I slow down. The smaller wheel will also slow down the pace of my hiking so that I don't feel like I am "running" up the mountain. I'll start working on trying a smaller wheel for next time out.

Having this e-bike motor kit setup on the Pack Wheel added an additional 8-9 pounds of weight, almost doubling the overall weight. I do think given the right situation the motor will come in vary handy. Situations like this one where I have a bunch of gear I need to haul up the mountain on steep trails and I am in an area that a motor would not be restricted. Most of the time I'll still be using the Pack Wheel without a motor to do my backpacking and hunting trips but the motor does make for a nice additional option if I need it.

The two Browning trail cameras I had out since March captured a ton of mule deer and various other critters. They actually got a few coyotes on them which has KB all worked up since he helped me setup those two cameras when we were up in there coyote hunting in March. Too funny.

Crossing the creek on a log with a Pack Wheel

Ruff Grouse

On the way back off the mountain crossing a creek with my Pack Wheel. Even on this narrow log the Pack Wheel provided a great extra point of contact to keep my balance by riding the brake.


Here's a Ruff Grouse that was in the area.


Alps Crossfire X Day Pack

Yellow Wildflower

My forvorite daypack a Alps Crossfire X. This pack is really comfortable.


Lots of these yellow wildflowers were all over the place on this trip out.





  • Big Game Hunting

    Journal entries from hunting mule deer, elk and whitetail deer.  You'll find hunts with 243 WSSM and 270 WSM rifles to muzzleloader and archery hunts.

  • General Hunting and Shooting

    Journal entries covering general information related to hunting and shooting. Many of these journal entries are from shooting on the rifle or archery range. There are also entries related to my experiences with the 243 WSSM, rifles, optics and other equipment and products I use.

  • Varmint Hunting

    Journal entries from hunting coyotes, rock chucks, prairie dogs and the like with 243 WSSM and 223 Rem. rifles.

  • Backpacking and Camping

    Backpacking, Pack Wheel camping and other camping adventures.

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