First Time Out Checking My Trail Cameras - Spring 2014

Bull Elk on Browning Recon Force XR trail camera photo.

Here's a bull elk about ready to start growing his antlers. This was taken with a Recon Force XR (BTC-2XR) trail camera. Click on the image to download the full size original JPG this trail camera captured.

 

Recon Force XR trail camera on tree

Browning Recon Force XR (BTC-2XR) trail camera.

 

Elk on Recon Force XR trail camera

Here's a cow and a yearling bull starting to grow his first antlers. This was taken with a Recon Force XR (BTC-2XR) trail camera. Click on the image to download the full size original JPG this trail camera captured.

 

Recon Force XR trail camera, Recon Force trail camera, battery pack and tree mounts

On this clump of small trees I strapped on a Recon Force XR (BTC-2XR) trail camera, a Recon Force (BTC-2) trail camera, and a battery pack. To get the cameras pointed in the right direction I use Browning Tree Mounts.

This location saw a lot of activity last year so I wanted to double up the cameras in hopes of catching more of the action there. One camera just can't cover this spring well enough.

 

Browning Recon Force XR (BTC-2XR) trail camera with battery pack

This location at times saw a lot of activity last year. To keep the camera taking video as long as possible, I have a micro sized Strike Force (BTC-5) trail camera with an external battery pack attached. I also have a 32 Gig SDHC memory card in the camera. As long as the bears don't tear down the camera this camera should have plenty of battery and memory to keep taking videos until I return to check it.

 

I picked up a couple newer 2014 models of trail cameras this year. I put them out on the mountain back in April when I was out hunting for shed antlers with my boys. For weeks now I have been wondering what might be passing by the cameras. With it being so early in the year I knew that there probably weren't a ton of critters in that high area on the mountain however I was hoping to possibly catch a glimpse of a black bear.

This time up the mountain I brought all my trail cameras that I pulled from the river bottom where I had them out all winter and early spring. I moved all the cameras around this trip out.

I placed cameras in my favorite spots from last year and with the additional new cameras I am experimenting with some other locations to see how active they are and what might pass in those locations.

One thing I am doing a little different this year is I am purchasing 32 Gig SDHC memory cards. I primarily like to set the cameras on video mode and last year there were a few times that in less than two weeks I would have full cards using 16 and 8 gig cards. Not wanting to miss any of the action I am working on getting the largest capacity SD cards.

Well after reviewing the images and video I didn't get anything super exciting but there are a few critters starting to move into the area. There's a few coyotes, lots of mule deer and elk in the area. Antlers are just starting to grow and no sign of bears, fawns and calf elk yet. Next trip out I should start seeing some fawns and calves I would believe.

It was pretty funny to watch a couple doe mule deer detect my scent on the camera from the day before when I put the camera out. You can check out some of that footage below.

Some bull elk pass by my Strike Force trail camera. The one bull stops and turns to look back. It is pretty cool to see the moisture of his breath in the air.

A coyote happens to look over and notice the red cluster of IR lights illuminated on the camera. The light they make is invisible but if you are looking directly at the camera you can see a faint red IR LED light dots. I prefer this spectrum of IR lighting over the Black Flash spectrum as it has greater illumination distance and I like that some animals take notice and are curious and investigate the little red LEDs.

The Black Flash cameras like my Spec Ops (BTC-3) trail camera work great they just don't have the flash distance of my trail cameras with the light red LEDs showing when they flash.

 

Having Fun With The Boys — Hunting For Shed Elk Antlers & Putting Out Trail Cameras

Landen with spike elk shed antler

Dallen and KB looking for elk shed antlers

KB and Dallen looking for shed elk antlers.

 

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird watching us from the oak brush.

 

KB packing spike elk antlers

KB packing some spike elk antlers in his backpack.

 

Five spike elk antlers

The crew of us boys with our five spike elk antlers. Landen was a little down for the photo. He wanted to find a big antler. Me too, me too.

 

My three boys and I decided to go hunt for shed elk antlers over Easter break. I was off for Good Friday and so I took the boys out to see what we could find. 

I knew a very general area of where the elk would be this time of year and we set out to scour the area. The elk would have been shedding their antlers over the past several weeks with the smaller bulls probably just losing their antlers.

The area we were hunting in has lots of thick oak brush. We spent a couple hours weaving around and around looking for antlers. We were finding a great deal of fresh elk tracks so they had to of dropped their antlers somewhere near by.

After a couple hours we found a nice brown elk spike in a meadowy area. After finding this one we really scoured that area very carefully and ended up finding five spike antlers within about 200 yards of each other. Two of the spikes were brown and three were whiteys from years past.

So we have a pretty good idea of where we can find spikes in future years to come but where were the bachelor groups of bulls hanging out when they dropped their antlers? I figured they would be lower because they would have dropped their antlers sooner than the spikes. We spent another couple hours working our way down the mountain hoping to find some nice branched antlers but we couldn't find any.

I had brought a couple of Browning's newest trail cameras with me in my Alps Pathfinder pack. The boys were a little tired so I let them play together building a fort while I hiked up a draw to set out the trail cameras.

I was excited to get a couple of new Recon Force XR, BTC-2XR trail cameras and a Strike Force, BTC-5 trail camera. I have loved the cool videos and images I have been getting with my 2013 models of Browning BTC-1, 2, and 3 trail cameras and I'm excited to try out Browning's new 2014 models this year.

The Strike Force BTC-5 trail camera is really small and is packed with awesome features. I can't wait to see what it captures. It's a little early in the year but I would love to catch some bears or young calf elk and whatever else I can on the cameras.

As luck would have it, as I was out setting out the trail cameras I stumbled onto a small five point elk antler. How funny! I didn't think I was in an area that they would have shed their antlers. The boys weren't amused that somehow I found the "big" antler while I told them to have fun here while I go off to setup trail cameras.

Browning Recon Force XR with Strike Force trail camera

Browning Recon Force XR with Strike Force trail camera back and bottom side

Browning Recon Force XR next to the smaller Strike Force trail camera.

 

The bottom and back view of a Browning Recon Force XR next to the smaller Strike Force trail camera. I like the heavier duty strap loops on the back of the Strike Force.

 

Browning Recon Force XR trail camera on tree with door open

Five point elk antler shed

This Recon Force XR trail camera looks much the same as the original Recon Force. One noticeable change are the back-lit buttons when in update mode. Most of the changes come in the form of better images, video, IR lighting and sensors.

 

I hiked up a draw to put out some trail camera while the boys were playing and building a fort. Oops, the boys aren't going to be happy about me finding a five point antler.

 

Browning trail camera power pack and Strike Force trail camera on Browning trail camera tree mount

Browning trail camera power pack

I setup a Browning Strike Force trail camera with a Browning Trail Camera Power Pack watching one of my favorite locations from last year. I am curious to see how well the batteries last with this camera and with the power pack setup.

 

Here's a closer view of the Browning Trail Camera Power Pack.

 

Browning Recon Force XR and Strike Force trail cameras with doors open

Sample image from Browning Strike Force trail camera

This shows the Browning Recon Force XR next to the smaller Strike Force trail camera with the doors open.

 

Here's a sample image taken from the Strike Force trail camera. It was a dull cloudy day and as you can see the snow is still on the ground from winter. Within a couple weeks things should really start to green up.

Here's a link to the original high resolution jpg image the Strike Force trail camera took which is a 10 MegaPixel image with a 2.8 MB file size.

 

Win a Henry Mountains Mule Deer Hunt from Huntin’ Fool

My friends at Huntin’ Fool are offering a chance at an awesome Mule Deer hunt on the Henry Mountains, a Red Rock Precision custom rifle and many other awesome hunts as part of their membership drive this year.  They sent this information to me that I wanted to pass along... wait, do I? I want to win. ;) I would love to hunt the Henry's for mule deer. Having a guide say this area or this area is where the bucks hang out would be nice but then I enjoy sleeping on the mountain and finding the bucks really my greatest enjoyment of any hunt whether I fill my tag or not. Not that there is anything wrong with having a guide, it's just not my preference. Anyhow, here's the info.


Henry Mountains Mule Deer Hunt

Huntin’ Fool is currently holding its 2014 Summer Membership Drive and we are excited to announce a giveaway like never before, and possibly never again. We have purchased the hunt of a lifetime and we are going to give it to one lucky member: A fully guided Henry Mountains mule deer hunt and a custom rifle.


Huntin Fool MagazinesThe winner of this once-in-a-lifetime hunt will be guided by North Rim Outfitters with the Huntin’ Fool team assisting. Along with the collective experience of North Rim Outfitters and the Huntin’ Fool team, the winner will also receive a Red Rock Precision custom rifle to help them take a trophy buck.


We are also giving away 15 other world-class hunts. Huntin’ Fool members can win a stone sheep hunt, multiple mule deer and elk hunts, a combination elk/deer/wolf/black bear hunt, and many others. These are fully paid for hunts with guaranteed tags, giving winners the opportunity to hunt trophy sized animals with our endorsed outfitters.


The Summer Membership Drive runs through July 31, 2014 and you must be a Huntin’ Fool member to enter. For more details about this unique opportunity to win a Henry Mountains hunt or any of our other prizes, or becoming a member of Huntin’ Fool, visit www.huntinfool.com/giveaway.


About Huntin’ Fool: Huntin’ Fool is for every hunter. We provide services and products to our members to ensure access to the best hunts and tags, hunt data and statistics, and gear and outfitter reviews. Huntin’ Fool is a membership-based organization and was founded in 1996 to provide hunters with a highly valued content and support system to make their individual hunting objectives a reality.

 

Rodent Snatching Red-Tailed Hawk Caught on a Browning Spec Ops Trail Camera

During this winter I have set out my trail cameras in a creek bottom where mule deer and turkeys like to winter. In this setup I have a Browning Spec Ops trail camera watching the edge of a fence corner post where deer like to funnel around. I have many, many deer photos and videos from this location. As I was scrolling through the many deer photos from this camera from the past couple weeks I came across these photos of a Red-Tailed Hawk pouncing on a rodent, fly up to a fence post and then a Magpie comes in to scavenge below the hawk. The trail camera was set to take six rapid-fire photos. In this setting it starts taking photos about six tenths of a second after it is triggered and then it takes six photos rapidly in two seconds time. And I have the camera set to a five second delay before it can be triggered again.

In this series of photos the camera is triggered just before the hawk hits the ground. Then sometime five or more seconds later the hawk takes off triggering the camera again and it starts taking photos as it is flying up to the post. Finally a Magpie flies in triggering the camera and gets his picture taken six times.

Red-Tailed Hawk Pouncing on Rodent
Red-Tailed Hawk Pouncing on Rodent
Red-Tailed Hawk Pouncing on Rodent
Red-Tailed Hawk Pouncing on Rodent
Red-Tailed Hawk Pouncing on Rodent
Red-Tailed Hawk Pouncing on Rodent
Red-Tailed Hawk Pouncing on Rodent
Red-Tailed Hawk Pouncing on Rodent
Red-Tailed Hawk Pouncing on Rodent
Red-Tailed Hawk Pouncing on Rodent
Red-Tailed Hawk Pouncing on Rodent
Red-Tailed Hawk Pouncing on Rodent
Red-Tailed Hawk Pouncing on Rodent
Red-Tailed Hawk Pouncing on Rodent
Red-Tailed Hawk Pouncing on Rodent
Red-Tailed Hawk Pouncing on Rodent
Red-Tailed Hawk Pouncing on Rodent
Red-Tailed Hawk Pouncing on Rodent

 

Redtail Hawk getting a rodent on a Browning Spec Ops BTC-3 Trail Camera

Redtail Hawk getting a rodent on a Browning Spec Ops BTC-3 Trail Camera

Redtail Hawk getting a rodent on a Browning Spec Ops BTC-3 Trail Camera

Redtail Hawk getting a rodent on a Browning Spec Ops BTC-3 Trail Camera

Redtail Hawk getting a rodent on a Browning Spec Ops BTC-3 Trail Camera

Redtail Hawk getting a rodent on a Browning Spec Ops BTC-3 Trail Camera

Redtail Hawk getting a rodent on a Browning Spec Ops BTC-3 Trail Camera

Redtail Hawk getting a rodent on a Browning Spec Ops BTC-3 Trail Camera

Redtail Hawk getting a rodent on a Browning Spec Ops BTC-3 Trail Camera

Redtail Hawk getting a rodent on a Browning Spec Ops BTC-3 Trail Camera

Redtail Hawk getting a rodent on a Browning Spec Ops BTC-3 Trail Camera

Redtail Hawk getting a rodent on a Browning Spec Ops BTC-3 Trail Camera

Redtail Hawk getting a rodent on a Browning Spec Ops BTC-3 Trail Camera

Redtail Hawk getting a rodent on a Browning Spec Ops BTC-3 Trail Camera

Redtail Hawk getting a rodent on a Browning Spec Ops BTC-3 Trail Camera

Redtail Hawk getting a rodent on a Browning Spec Ops BTC-3 Trail Camera

Redtail Hawk getting a rodent on a Browning Spec Ops BTC-3 Trail Camera

Redtail Hawk getting a rodent on a Browning Spec Ops BTC-3 Trail Camera

 

Favorite Products at the 2014 Western Hunting and Conservation Expo

Big Game Mounts at the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo

Here's just a few of the many mounts that can be found at 2014 Western Hunting and Conservation Expo.

I had a little time between work and Dallen's High School basketball to check out some of the booths at the Western Hunting Conservation Expo this year. I decided to to donate $50 to put in for some of the hunting draws I would like most. The Desert Big Horn and Rocky Mountain Bighorn were no brainers. The Hunt Expo is most likely my only chance to draw one of them. By the time I have enough points to draw my once in a lifetime moose hopefully before I die, I think I will put in for a Mountain Goat and there's no way I'm living long enough to start on a third once in a lifetime big game animal.

Anyhow with the $50 for ten different hunts, $12 for parking, $10 to get in the show and my gas to drive down. It's worth it to have another chance to get a limited entry hunt in Utah.

As usual there are some pretty cool stuff at the show. The place is just packed with huge mule deer and elk mounts not to mention tons of sheep and other critters. I do like walking through the taxidermy judging section. I feel a lot better seeing realistic sized deer and elk in this section. Many of the mounts are of deer with antlers the size I might actually see in the areas I hunt. Now throughout the rest of the show the antlers just don't look real. I've hunted hard my whole life and never seen bucks or bulls anywhere near the size of most of them found in the show... wow!

Poison Arrow Bow Mounted Elk Decoy

Here is the Poison Arrow elk decoy collapsed on a bow.

Poison Arrow Bow Mounted Elk Decoy Deployed

Here Poison Arrow Gear's cow elk decoy deployed on the side of a bow. You can see how you can hide your draw behind the decoy.

Anyhow there where two products that caught my eye as I walked the show this year.

First was a lightweight decoy/blind that Poison Arrow is making that mounts to an arrow in your bow quiver. Being a solo DIY archery elk hunter I have many a time found it difficult to call in a bull within range without getting busted. My most successful technique is to ambush elk along a active trail or water hole. There are times when I am calling and I can see that carrying just a few more ounces of weight on my bow with one of Poison Arrow's cow elk decoys could help buy me some precious time to get the shot.

The decoy is a "flag" of material with a cow elk head printed on it. There is a small bungee chord that ties the decoy flag down by being wrapped through the nock of the arrow that the decoy is attached too. The decoy can be deployed in just a couple seconds. The decoy attached to the arrow can also quickly be removed from the quiver and attached to a tree or brush etc.

Most of the time I try to ambush the elk and would prefer not to have the decoy visible attracting attention to me however sometimes I do have to cow call to pull a bull within range and if I have a bull coming directly to my calls this decoy might just buy me the time to get the shot. I can also see that it would offer a great shield to block the view of me drawing my bow. I might have to get one of these before next archery elk season.

CamStrap Video camera head mount

Solvid's CamStrap video camera head mount and one of their hats with a slot in the side for the mount to come through.

Another product that looked pretty cool was a nice solid camera mount that straps around your head called a CamStrap from a company called Solvid. Unlike GoPro cameras and mounts this mount appears very strong and secure allowing for the use of variable zoom digital video camera. The footage they were showing of archery mule deer hunting and other hunting was pretty amazing. I was impressed.

I could see how this could get awesome footage of my archery hunts and I could see how it could be vary valuable to review the footage after a shot to see how well my shot placement was on an elk. A GoPro is cool but the footage is so wide angled that anything past a few yards looks very distant. This system can bring the action in much closer. This could be a lot of fun as long as I'm not fiddling with the camera when I should be focusing on taking the shot.

Now if I get one of these straps I'll have to get a camera to use with it, hmm....

For more information about the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo check out huntexpo.com.

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