Trail Camera Tips - A Few Things I've learned Using Them

In May of 2013 I got my first trail camera and I quickly had to have more. They have been so much fun seeing what is going on in the woods when I am not there. Here are a few of the things others might find helpful that I learned about using and setting up trail cameras this year.

Rayovac ultrapro aa alkaline batteries with a Browning Recon Force trail camera

My favorite batteries for my trail cameras, Rayovac UltraPro AAs. They are inexpensive on Amazon.com, they last well and they have been capturing video down to 19 degrees below zero. 

Batteries.
I have yet to swallow the pill and buy the expensive lithium batteries. I'm sure Lithium would be by far the best to use but they are just so very expensive and I have been really happy with a much less expensive battery. I have really liked the performance of the inexpensive Rayovac UltraPro AA alkaline batteries. I buy them in 48 bulk packs from Amazon.

I like to change out the batteries when they show near 50% on the management screen of my Browning trail cameras. I would guess that I get an average of around 700 videos that are 30 seconds long before the batteries drop near the 50% mark.

The reason I switch out the batteries at 50% is not that they won't keep taking photos and video. It is because of the possibility that it may take me a month before I get back in to check the cameras. A lot can happen in a month and I would hate for the cameras to miss any possible action. I do generally get around 6 weeks before they drop to 50% and I generally check my cameras every two weeks.

How cold is too cold for alkaline batteries?
I have found that with the Rayovac UltraPro batteries I can capture video with temperatures that are well below zero. All my online research showed that alkaline batteries were only good down to zero. I have captured many videos on all on my cameras in temperatures below zero. The coldest temperature so far has been some mule deer when it was 19 below.

Here's a few interesting video clips that show the cold temperatures where the Browning Trail Cameras have captured mule deer, coyotes and turkeys using Rayovac UltraPro alkaline batteries.

Bears.
If you have bears in the area they will mess with your cameras. They will try to destroy your cameras. Bears are bad... but pretty exciting to get on camera. I'm thinking a electrically charged wired right next to the camera would do wonders at keeping them from messing up my cameras. So for next year I am looking into a small electric fence option for the bears.

SDHC Cards.
My favorite SDHC cards are a Sony 16 Gig Class 10 variety. Video can fill up card quick so I like the extra room of a 16 Gig card. The Sony Class 10 cards read extremely fast and run around $12 on Amazon. Their speed comes in handy when downloading the files to my computer. The Browning trail cameras don't require the class 10 but I sure enjoy how fast copying the files to my computer is.

Mounting to trees.
You have found the perfect location to watch game with a trail camera but there aren't any perfect trees to strap a camera to. Often this is the case. Finding a solid straight tree in the right spot to watch a muddy spring may not be possible. I have found that Browning Tree mounts are just the tool to mount trail cameras to just about any tree and then once you have it on the tree you then can angle the camera in almost any direction.

Browning Trail Camera tree mount oak brush

Browning Trail Camera Tree Mount Bolted to tree

Browning Trail Camera Tree Mount around a small tree with the camera pointed up the hill to watch a trail the passes above. Lag bolts can also be used to securely mount a Browning Tree Mount to a solid tree. This camera is also angled to match the slope of the trail it is watching and tipped slightly down.

Browning Trail Camera tree mount bundle limbs

Browning Recon Force Trail Camera tilted to match slope of trail

Browning Trail Camera Tree Mount used to bundle several small trees together. The trees were about three feet apart and using the two cinch straps I pulled them all together to form a fairly solid mounting location for this spring I wanted to watch. I got some fun action from this location which was only made possible by using the Browning Tree Mount. Below is my favorite elk video from this camera's location.

Notice how this Recon Force trail camera is tilted. I have found it best to angle the trail cameras to match the angle of the trail that it is watching. See sample images.

Browning Recon Force Trail Camera mounted on fence post with tree mount

Browning Trail Camera Tree Mount on Angled Tree

Here is a Browning Trail Camera Tree Mount used on an old metal fence post. A half fallen tree works great for mounting a trail camera with the Browning Trail Camera Tree Mount.

Better framed critters.
I get much better framed images and video of critters if I tilt the trail camera to match the angle of the trail it was watching. A perfectly level camera pointed at a trail that is on an incline chops the heads off the critters on the uphill side and chops the legs off the critters on the downhill side. The best way to get a trail camera angled to match the trail angle is a Browning Tree Mount. These mounts also make mounting cameras to all sorts of strangely angled trees a breeze.

View from trail camera that is level

View with a trail camera that is tilted to match the angle of slope

Checking the view from the trail camera on this setup showed that on the high side of the slope my head would get cut off. The camera is setup in a level position when taking this photo. Here is the view after tilting the trail camera to match the angle of the slope of the trail it was pointed at. In this position I get a nice view of the antlers of a bull elk all the way across the view of the camera.

Reviewing video and images in the field.
Most of my cameras do not have a viewfinder to preview what the camera is pointed at. I do have one Spec Ops camera with a viewfinder that makes getting the camera pointed exactly where I want it very easy. For all of my other cameras I purchase a USB adapter cable for my Samsung Galaxy SIII camera. This adapter allows me to plug in USB devices like keyboards, hard drives and in this case, SD card readers. Whenever a set a camera in a new location I walk past the camera then pull the SD card and review it to make sure it is pointed right where I want it. I also review what is on the camera when I go back to swap out SD cards and batteries. Sometimes I find that the critters are passing more along one side or the other. By having the ability to check this in the field I can make the adjustment to the camera without waiting another couple weeks before I go back out to check them again.

Samsung Galaxy S3 usb sdhc card reader for trail cameras

Using a Samsung USB adapter and SD card reader to read the SDHC cards from my trail cameras.

To review the AVI format of the video that my Browning Trail Cameras take I had to get a video playing app. At first I found that the "MX Player" app worked to play the videos however after an upgrade in Android I could never get this app to play the video format anymore. I found that VLC worked great at playing the video format. I did have to side load the app because it wasn't available in the US because of some US phones not being compatible or something. Anyhow VLC works great on my SIII.

Here's a weird thing I also found about using the USB SD card reader. For whatever reason I have to huff warm moist air onto the USB connecter just before I plug it into the adapter cable to get the card reader to be recognized. I have two different SD card readers and both of them require the huff to work. I'm guessing that the moisture gives the connection just a little more strength. I wonder if a gold plated connector would do the trick. Whatever the case this trick always works.

More is better.
I ended up using six trail cameras to scout for elk in relatively small area. I found that the elk did frequent the area but were not in the area all the time. I learned that they generally moved in a clockwise pattern completely opposite of how I thought they would have moved. I learned that they never frequented the timber I thought that they would be bedding in... The point is I learned a ton about what was going on in that area when I wasn't there. This gave me confidence to stick it out when the first three trips out archery hunting I didn't see a single elk. On my fourth trip I found and shot a spike. Having several cameras gave me valuable information on how and when they moved through the area giving me the confidence that I wasn't wasting my time hunting the area. This also proved in helping my son Dallen take a nice bull elk a few weeks after I took the spike.

Where I like to place them.
I like to put my cameras out watching areas that I think would funnel elk and deer. Along the edge of a cliff, in a saddle going over a ridge, along a heavily used game trail, these are typical places I set my cameras to watch. And of course I like to set them up watching springs.

One location that has amazed me with the videos it has captured is a bare patch of dirt along the edge of some quaking aspens. I set the camera out watching this relatively barren of vegetation spot because it offered a clear view where animals would not be blocked by under brush, limbs etc. The bare patch is about 30 yards in diameter and I just have the camera pointing across the center of the spot. There isn't any trail trails going through it but deer, elk, bears, and coyotes have all been captured crossing that bare patch.

In some situations I will position dead fall trees and limbs and set them along the edges of where the camera is viewing to get critters to funnel around the dead fall and in front of the camera better.


This is a playlist of all my YouTube trail camera action.

2013 Utah Mule Deer Rut Trail Camera Action

There have been a few pretty nice bucks crawling out of their hiding spots and showing up to chase the does. Below are a few compilations of rutting mule deer bucks in Northern Utah. I have also been taking photos of mule deer this fall including most of the bucks I have captured on the trail cameras.


This buck has been named the Church Buck because of me getting a bunch of photos of him on a Sunday morning and apparently my friends thought I was skipping church. No, I wasn't sneaking out of church... well at least not when I took photos of this buck. Church Buck is also a fitting name with the fact that he has such a "perfectly" symmetrical four point rack. "Be ye therefore perfect..." Hmm...

 

This Recon Force trail camera caught the Church Buck catching up with a doe.

 

Here's a couple of nice bucks in hot pursuit of does.

 

This doe pees in front of the trail camera and two bucks curl their noses in pursuit.

 

This buck with a broken G2 is very elusive. I have not been able to find him in person.

Pulling My Trail Cameras From The High Country For The Season

Browning Recon Force Trail Camera

One of my Recon Force trail cameras on this tree for the last time this year.

 

Browning Spec Ops trail camera

This Browning Spec Ops trail camera has been watching a spring (to my back) for the past six months.

 

Aside from a cow elk tag that Dallen has for this year our big game hunting is over for the year. With winter approaching I took one last trip up the mountain to the high country to pull my trail cameras. I have spent so much time this year going up hunting and checking my trail cameras that I have become really fond of the area.

I found the trail camera on my favorite spring broken right off the mounting bracket and the camera was lying on the ground covered with mud. I have been able to use some super glue and a little time to let the moisture that entered the camera dry out and it appears to function fine now. Reviewing the footage from the camera and from past experience, I can only guess that it was a black bear. Those critters have it in for me I swear.... or at least they really don't like trail cameras.

I have thoroughly enjoyed communing with the mountain this year. With all the time and the video/images I have of the animals that frequent the area I can't help but feel connected with the mountain more so than at any other time in my life. People can say one thing or the other about the use of trail cameras but I'm here to say that I am very grateful for them in helping me feel so connected with such a beautiful place on God's earth. Not only did the cameras help provide elk meat for our family they are directly responsible for helping me loose weight and in getting my bad knees in better condition, something I could not force myself to do at any gym.

The mountain looks so different now. All the leaves fallen, much of the vegetation flattened from crazing and snow, the area feels deserted. It was a sad day for me to take this last trip.


Here's one of the best bucks I have seen on camera this year. I love the long cheater on the right. Where was this buck hiding during the hunting season? I really like this buck. He has a pretty set of antlers.

 

This young bull comes in with some cows and plops down right in front of the camera one evening. What's really neat is that this was the bull that I have the most on camera all through June and July then he disappeared from the area.

Bull Elk Browning Spec Ops Trail Camera BTC-3

5 Point Bull Elk Browning Range Ops Trail Camera BTC-1

Here is the bull on July 3rd. The camera shows 2012 but I had the date set wrong in the camera. Here he is on October 29th back in the area he spent the summer.

Here's a cow that comes up and licks the camera. This is actually a pretty common occurrence. The cows are really curious of the cameras. The self adjusting illumination on the camera is nice so it doesn't blow out the exposure as the elk gets closer.

 

This video is just of various elk that pass by the cameras over the past several weeks. Nothing big. I wonder if the two 5x6 bulls we were after made it through the hunting seasons.

 

Here's the camera that I believe Mr. Bear tried to destroy. Once the camera hits the ground a cow elk comes by and a magpie lands above it.

2013 Utah Rifle Deer Hunt — Dallen Shoots "Whitey" A Four Point Mule Deer Buck

Mule Deer Hunting X-Bolt Rifle with Vortex Viper HSLR Scope

Dallen watching for mule deer from some cliffs opening day. Setup using my X-Bolt 270 WSM on his favorite shooting sticks, Stoney Point Magnum Steady Stix... except they are now Primos Magnum Pole Cat Steady Stix Magnum.

 

Deer Hunter on snow covered cliffs

Waking up on the cliffs we slept on deer hunting.

 

Dead coyote taken with a 150 Gr. Accubond LR bullet at 300 yards

Dallen smacked this coyote at just over 300 yards on opening day of the rifle deer hunt.

 

Vortex Razor HD Spotting Scope deer hunting

Glassing for deer with a Vortex Razor HD spotting scope. This scope is ultra crisp and clear for spotting deer way down the canyon.

 

The two deer hunters on opening day.

Dallen and me on opening day of the deer hunt.

 

Small mule deer buck hiding in the brush.

Using the Vortex Razor HD spotting scope to find deer hiding in the brush. Holding my camera up to the scope is a little of a trick. I need to get a camera adapter.

 

Hiking ridgeline with 24 inch wheel Pack Wheel Game Cart.

Dallen hiking along a ridge line with his Pack Wheel game cart.

 

Pack Wheel 29er Game Cart on ridge.

Dallen at the wheel of a Pre-Production All-Terrain Pack Wheel 29er game cart.

 

Hunting with Pack Wheel game carts on mountains.

Stopping to look for deer while hiking with our Pack Wheel game carts.

 

Glassing for mule deer Vortex Razor HD Spotting scope

Weston glassing for mule deer with the Vortex Razor HD spotting scope.

 

First sighting of Whitey the Four Point buck Dallen later takes.

This photo was taken of the buck Dallen named Whitey on Tuesday morning.

 

Vortex Razor Digiscope four point buck

This is a small four point buck Weston and I found that some other hunters found and later took on Thursday morning.

 

This year I decided to hunt mule deer in Utah with a rifle. I have generally been getting a muzzleloader tag because I like wearing camo and seeing far fewer hunters. This year I wanted to test out my new Vortex Viper HSLR scope and I wanted to hunt and scout along with my oldest son Dallen.

Over the last several months I have worked up a handload for my 270 WSM X-Bolt and Model 1885 with the new 150 Gr. Accubond LR bullet. That along with getting new Vortex rifles scopes on my rifles had me pretty excited to test them out this fall.

The night before the opener Dallen and I used our Pack Wheel game carts to haul in our gear a couple miles to spend the night. We decided to sleep right on the edge of the cliff we wanted to hunt and glass from. It's a good 200 foot drop just two feet away from the small spot to slept on. We placed a row of rocks along the side of our sleeping bags to prevent us from rolling off the cliff in the middle of the night. We decided to sleep on the cliff because the year before we slept just over the ridge from the cliff and two hunters went right past us just before light and got on the cliff before us. That wasn't going to happen this year.

That evening we glassed a couple of small bucks and several does below us for a hour or so before dark. Nothing big but it still got us excited for what we might see in the morning. Just before light we rolled out of our sleeping bags and were waiting on the cliff watching the canyon waiting for it to get light. Just as it got light two hunters popped up behind us wanting to hunt from the cliff we were on and one hunter spent the morning sitting 30 yards to our left and the other 200 yards across a saddle from us. Public land during the rifle hunt in Northern Utah is very crowded.

We spent the entire day watching the canyon. We watched five or six small bucks off and on all day below us but nothing to get us excited or even tempt us to shoot. Although, while we were watching a group of deer late in the afternoon we noticed that they were looking at something to the left. Glassing around a little more and I found a coyote working it's way up the canyon. As the coyote approached the 300 yard mark Dallen sent a 150 Gr. Accubond LR from my X-Bolt 270 WSM down to greet him. This sent the coyote into a typical death spiral they like to do when shot a little too far back.

Using a quick MOA reference card I made for the rifle it is really nice to dial in the exact range on the Vortex Viper HSLR scope and hold dead on as Dallen did to take the shot on this coyote.

With Dallen needing to get back in school and church we headed off the mountain Saturday. I would watch for him a buck during the week that we might be able to get him in on come the following Friday and Saturday.

Early Tuesday I was headed back up the mountain with my brother Weston. From first light until around midday we slowly Pack Wheeled our gear along the mountain stopping frequently to glass for deer. We found quite a few deer along the way and two four point bucks that we took a second look at. We decided that we could find better and that I would try and get Dallen in on one of those bucks on the upcoming weekend. I texted Dallen a photo of the larger of the two four point bucks and Dallen wanted him. He also named the buck "Whitey."

Weston and I hunted through the next two canyons through Wednesday and Thursday. It was pretty cool to get into areas that very few foot hunters go. We were in horse hunter range from the truck with ease thanks to assistance of the Pack Wheel game carts.

We found ample supply of first year bucks and a couple of second year bucks sporting the 16 inch three point variety of antlers. We just could never find any of the big boys that we knew were on the mountain. The weather was fairly nice all week with a bright moon and this wasn't helping to bring the big bucks out. In fact we even noticed that small two point bucks were bedded before daylight in one canyon.

Thursday night we wheeled our way back off the mountain and back to a soft bed for one night.

Friday afternoon Dallen and I headed back up the mountain looking for Whitey. Whitey was not horribly far from the end of the road so we planned on making day hikes in to try and find him. I strapped on a collapsed Pack Wheel to my pack so that we could use to haul a buck off the mountain should the need arise. As we were slipping our way around the ridges we noticed a doe bedded, hiding in the chaparral. This really made us really keep a keen watch for other deer that might be hiding near us.

After we made it down to a small rock out cropping we laid or packs on the cliff and I had Dallen practice quickly getting into position to make a shot in this direction and then in that direction while resting the X-Bolt rifle over a pack. Dallen loves to shoot from Steady Stix and I'm trying to get him to be just as comfortable from other shooting positions.

After sitting in the rocks for a few minutes I told Dallen to watch from 12 o'clock back to 6 o'clock and I would watch from 12 o'clock forward to 6 o'clock. No sooner had I said this and made my first pan looking across my section I quickly noticed a four point buck's head sticking out over the tall chaparral brush. The buck was looking away from us. I quickly told Dallen to dial the Vortex Viper HSLR scope to zero as the horizontal distance was 125 yards with the actual distance probably near 150 yards with the steep angle of the shot. I also set my Vortex Viper HSLR to zero and had the buck in the scope ready to fire if the need arose.

Dallen then sent a 150 Gr. Accubond LR from my X-Bolt 270 WSM down to take out his spine and that he did. The buck disappeared into the chaparral with a whop. We watched for a few minutes to make sure he didn't get back up then headed down to find him.

We weren't sure if the buck was Whitey or not until we got to him. Sure enough it was. A very nice mature buck with awesome heavy burly bases. The buck was in a "super bed" dug out under the chaparral for maybe decades. The buck had stood up out of the bed and Dallen dropped him off the front edge of his bed.

Recovered 150 Gr. Accubond LR From Mule Deer
Recovered 150 Gr. Accubond Long Range bullet. With a muzzle velocity of 3034 FPS from my 270 WSM X-Bolt this 150 Gr. Bullet is reduced to 58 grains after the 150 yard shot into the neck of Dallen's mule deer.

The 150 Gr. Accubond LR bullet made a small round hole going in and it penetrated around 8 inches breaking the bucks neck. We spent probably an hour in the middle of the night trying to find what was left of the bullet. It appeared to vaporize within just a few inches. We could only find a few very small lead flakes and a small lead bonded to copper piece that weighs 4.9 grains... However a couple days after returning home while cleaning off the skull I found the mushroomed bullet remains in the muscle near the back of the tongue. The lead was bonded to the copper this time unlike it did with Dallen's bull elk from the month previous and the bullet weighs 58 grains. Even though this bullet expands rapidly I was quite surprised that it didn't pass through the deer's neck.

Unfortunately the day I went back with Dallen to hunt I forgot my FujiFilm HS50exr camera. I wish I would have had it to take photos when Dallen shot the buck he calls Whitey. I did at least have my Samsung S3 phone with me and was able to at least get a few pretty decent photos of the hunt and his 2013 Utah mule deer. The camera in the S3 isn't too bad for a phone camera. I do however love the photos I get with the HS50exr.

On this mule deer hunt I have been testing a new pre-production version of the Pack Wheel game/hiking cart. It's much the same as the original Pack Wheel but built to tackle extreme terrain with a 29er wheel. I'm working on a name for it maybe the "ATPW 29er", All-Terrain Pack Wheel 29er. This All-Terrain Pack Wheel should be available for purchase sometime in 2014 on packwheel.com.

We boned out Dallen's buck and placed all of the meat (75 lbs) into the Pack Wheel panniers and strapped it to the All-Terrain Pack Wheel 29er. We were in the middle of thick chaparral brush with no trails of any kind for several hundred yards. I angled the Pack Wheel to descend slightly and across the canyon I went right over the chaparral. The Pack Wheel worked awesome at rolling right over the chaparral. By angling slightly downhill I was able to use gravity to help propel the Pack Wheel and get it to roll over the chaparral. It worked awesome!

Once in the bottom of the canyon there was a trail that went from top to bottom in the canyon. It's a rough and steep trail and since our truck was at the top of the mountain we decide to go up. It took some time to make it back up the mountain but the Pack Wheel with such a large wheel, disc brake system and low balanced weight I personally hauled all the meat out with relative ease considering the steep "trail" we were ascending. It would have been an absolute breeze to go out the bottom of the canyon but we then would have had the hassle of getting someone to get us back up to our truck in the middle of the night.

I have had six knee surgeries in my life to date and will have a few more before I'm done. Using the Pack Wheel makes it possible to haul large amounts of weight without having to haul extreme amounts of weight on my back and knees. I love it. Two days later as I write this blog entry my knees feel great. If I had of been carrying all that weight on my back I would have extremely swollen and sore knees for many days or weeks. No arthritic pain and inflammation, yes!

No mule deer for me this year. It's been a few years for me now. I'll be itching to get one next year. I have a few areas on my bucket list that the Pack Wheel is going to help me get into to hunt hopefully next season.

Dallen has had a pretty darn good year shooting Charlie One Horn and now Whitey. Good job Dallen!

Dallen with 2013 Four Point Mule Deer named Whitey

Dallen with Caped Mule deer on frame pack

Dallen with his 2013 mule deer he named "Whitey."

 

Dallen hauling his mule deer head caped out on a frame pack.

 

Dallen with Mule deer caped and X-Bolt on his frame pack.

All-Terrian Pack Wheel 29er Game Cart with Boned out Mule Deer Going Through Chaparral Brush

Dallen hauling his mule deer head caped out on a frame pack.

 

All-Terrian Pack Wheel 29er game cart with the boned out mule deer going right over chaparral brush.

 

X-Bolt Rifle and Vortex Viper HSLR scope shooting from rocks.

Loading the boned out mule deer on a Pack Wheel game cart.

Location where Dallen shot Whitey from with my X-Bolt 270 WSM and a 150 Gr. Accubond LR bullet.

 

Finished boning and caping out the mule deer now it's time to load it on the Pack Wheel and frame pack.

 

Model 1885 and Vortex Razor HD spotting scope

Caped out mule deer on frame pack

When Dallen is hunting with my X-Bolt I fall back to my favorite rifle, a Model 1885. I would hunt with 1885's all the time if they were as light as my X-Bolt.

 

Whitey caped out ready to be tied on the frame pack.

Pack Wheel game cart at sunset.

All-Terrian Pack Wheel 29er Game Cart

Weston standing on the ridge at sunset with his Pack Wheel game cart.

 

All-Terrian Pack Wheel 29er Game Cart.

 

Whitey, mule deer head view from side

Glassing for mule deer

View of "Whitey" Dallen's 2013 mule deer buck from the side.

 

Dallen glassing for mule deer.

 

Whitey, mule deer head view from side mounted in living room

Whitey mounted in the living room looking at camera

Dallen got a surprise for Christmas in 2014 with his deer back from the taxidermist. Alan Cox did the mount for us and did an incredible job.

Alan put a lot of time in to give it life like qualities, like the tension in the throat, the shape of the face, the contour of the brisket area. I love that it also angles out of the wall subtly to the right and is looking left.

 

My father (Dallen's grandfather) summed up the looks of the mount when he stated that "it just looks like it is alive."

 

 

2013 Utah Youth Elk Hunt — Dallen Shoots Big Ol' Charlie One Horn

Sitting in Cliffs Elk Hunting

Dallen watching for elk from some cliffs.

 

X-Bolt Stainless Stalker with Vortex Viper HSLR Scope

My X-Bolt 270 WSM with a Vortex Viper HS LR 4-16x50 rifle scope and EGW 20 MOA picatinny rail.

 

Browning Powerhouse Ground Blind

We packed in a Browning Powerhouse ground blind so that we could crawl into it during rain storms. Actually there is no need to crawl into this ground blind it's extra tall allowing for you to easily get in it, stand in it and move around. Just what I like.

 

Big Black Bear

Here's the first big black bear that we spotted  while elk hunting. Looks like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, very big bear.

 

Black Bear

This black bear was smaller than the first bear that we saw but this bear by all means wasn't tiny. I think this bear is one of the bears that messes with my trail cameras. See video below.

 

Hiking in cliffs while elk hunting.

Dallen hiking in cliffs while elk hunting.

 

Hunting with clouds in background.

Dallen watching for elk and bears with some cool looking clouds in the background as the sun sets.

 

Dallen and I with his 2013 bull elk - Charlie One Horn

Dallen and I with his 2013 bull elk — Big Ol' Charlie One Horn.

 

Dallen Walking up to his 2013 bull elk.

Dallen walking up to Charlie One Horn. Later we found that Charlie One Horn walked past one of my trail cameras minutes before Dallen takes him. You can see the footage in one of the videos on this page.

 

Dallen with his 2013 bull elk and a Pack Wheel game cart.

Dallen with a Pack Wheel game cart all prepared to haul his elk off the mountain.

 

Elk meat all loaded on a Pack Wheel game cart.

Dallen's bull elk all boned out, on the Pack Wheel ready to haul off the mountain.

 

Dallen packing elk head

Dallen carrying out the head of his 2013 bull elk while I used the Pack Wheel to wheel out all of the meat.

 

After I successfully took a spike elk with my bow we were hopeful that Dallen would be able to harvest one of the larger 5x6 bulls that we had been seeing in the area on my Browning trail cameras. However that last time any of my trail cameras had captured one of the 5x6 bulls was the day before the archery elk opener.

The week before Dallen's opener in rained almost every day. When it rains on the mountain we are hunting the roads get really greasy... So the night before the opener we chained up all four wheels and crawled our way up the greasy mud. We made it but the wheel wells were packed in with the muddy mess.

Opening morning we crawled out of our sleeping bags and started up the mountain. We took a steeper route than normal trying to avoid spooking elk and deer on the way in. Once we got to our first location to hunt we sat for an hour or so with no activity. We decided to move to our second location and sat until mid-day without seeing any elk.

At mid-day we headed back to the area where I shot my spike with a bow two weeks prior. We hadn't been there long when Dallen spots a bull elk working it's way up the canyon. Dallen was excited however once we got our optics on the bull we could see that it was a 4x4 bull. Basically the same size as the bull he shot in 2012. He decided to pass on it. I did my best to try and encourage him to take the bull but Dallen wanted something better and kudos for him not giving in under the pressure I was putting on him. Dallen knew that there were better bulls in the area.

You know the good thing about trail cameras is that you know what is in the area and the bad thing about trail cameras is that you know what is in the area. Trail cameras sure help in the decision making of where to hunt and what to shoot. Dallen was holding out for at least a 5 point. We knew from the trail cameras that there are several five point bulls in the area and a couple 5x6 bulls. Dallen wanted one at least that big.

Later in the evening after seeing the 4x4 bull we watched two different Black Bears come out of the quaking aspens just a 100 yards to our right. It was kind of funny as I spotted the first bear I told Dallen not to move because there was a bear to his right. After I watched the bear a little more I looked back at Dallen and he was froze solid still looking to his left. I guess I should have explained myself better. I think he thought the bear was right next to him. I just didn't want to scare the bear away. Pretty funny.

Three minutes after the bear came through Dallen spotted another bear coming out and down the same trail that the first one went down. Very cool!

We were good boys and came home Saturday evening so that we could attend church on Sunday.

Monday I picked Dallen up a little early from school and we flew up the mountain. We made it into position about 4:30 to watch the canyon we watched the bears in on Saturday evening. At around 5:30 I spotted a good bull sneaking around the quaking aspens out about 300 yards. It walked through an opening and disappeared. I told Dallen not to fear. I pulled out a cow call and mewed and quickly he bugled back, awesome! I then laided into two of my favorite Primos calls with some aggressive hot cow calls. The bull was hooked. He cut out of the trees and into a clearing and that is when we noticed that he was missing an antler. He crossed the canyon and popped up on a ridge line 150 yards across from us and then turned broadside walking along the hillside. Dallen and I went back and forth. Dallen would say, "he's only got one antler"... I then would respond "but he's big", "he's only got one antler"... "do you want him or not?" Ok dad, I'll take him. Hold on, I'll stop him. Mew, BANG!

In typical Dallen fashion shortly after putting down the bull Dallen had him named. Charlie One Horn.

We then boned out the elk to haul it off the mountain. While boning one of the front shoulders we found the second bullet that was fired from 189 yards. I really wanted to open up the chest cavity and find the other bullet but by the time we finished boning out the elk it was three in the morning. I didn't want to spend another hour looking for that bullet. I can say that there was no sign that it travel anywhere near to the opposite side of the rib cage.

After boning out the elk Dallen strapped on the head to his pack and I carried the backstraps in my pack and the rest of the elk meat in Pack Wheel Panniers strapped to a Pack Wheel game cart. The Pack Wheel game cart made it a breeze to get off the mountain. Because the cart is so lightweight and collapsible I carried the cart with me while we were hunting. This makes it really nice so we don't have to make any extra trips. We just bone out the elk and load it on the Pack Wheel and go.

I personally took 210 lbs. of meat out easily by myself in one trip. The meat the Pack Wheel carried was 185 lbs. and I had 25 pounds of meat in my pack.  The head that Dallen was carrying was 40 pounds. Pretty dang heavy for a one antlered elk. With a bullet through both shoulders we probably lost about 20 pounds of meat. It sure was nice to take a whole elk off the mountain in one easy trip.

Recovered from elk 150 Gr. Accubond LR
Recovered 150 Gr. Accubond Long Range bullet. With a muzzle velocity of 3034 FPS from my X-Bolt this 150 Gr. Bullet is reduced to 29 grains of bare copper after a 189 yard shot into Dallen's elk.  Isn't the lead supposed to be bonded to the copper? Are these really Accubonds? Looks like just a really fragile Ballistic Tip.

For this hunt Dallen was using my Browning X-Bolt 270 WSM setup with a EGW 20 MOA rail and a Vortex Viper HS LR 4-16x50 rifle scope. We are using a new bullet this year. Nosler's new Accubond LR in the 150 Gr. .277 diameter variety. I really like the EGW rail and Vortex rifle scope setup on this rifle. The "Accubond" LR bullets I'm a little disappointed with. Yes, Dallen shot his elk at closer range (154 and 189 Yards) but the bullet I recovered went from 150 grains down to 29 grains in about 10 inches of penetration along the shoulder. What concerned me the most was that there is absolutely no sign that this bullet has the lead bonded to the copper.

I love bullets that penetrate enough to make it across the elk but fragment like crazy. The 140 Accubond has been a great bullet for me over the years and performs very well. The "Accubond" LR I know is designed to open at slower velocities that you have at extreme long range however it shows no signs of bonding that help maintain bullet weight and penetration.

Although I have not tried the 150 Gr Berger VLD, I would bet that it penetrates further than the 150 Gr. Accubond LR. Is the Accubond LR really an Accubond or just a super fragile Ballistic Tip? I'd bet that ballistic tips are tougher and penetrate better. I started getting a little nervous about the strength of the bullet when I found that I could not load compressed powder loads, as seating the bullet would crush a ring into the ogive of the bullet.

Now with all this said about the Accubond LR I am not completely disappointed. It did a fine job of putting Dallen's elk on the ground with a 154 yard shot through the shoulder and a quick follow-up shot across the other shoulder at 189 yards as a precaution. However, he was dead on the first shot.

Dallen's first shot was at 154 yards and went directly through the shoulder and into the chest cavity. It penetrated through the four inches or so of muscle of the shoulder and made a 1 1/2" hole through the ribs and into the chest cavity. The elk was really sick and slowly turned and walked back the way he came. My rule on elk is to keep shooting until they fall over, so Dallen slid another bullet just to the side of his rear and into the opposite shoulder as it was walking directly away from us. This shot was at 189 yards and the bullet penetrated from the back of the shoulder to near the front of the shoulder crushing the scapula in the process. This bullet penetrated around 10 inches and was recovered weighing only 29 Grains and showing absolutely no lead bonded to the copper.

Using trail cameras has made all the difference this elk hunting season. We are hunting such a small piece of property that gets very limited elk traffic. Yes, elk are there but not every day. Using the trail cameras throughout the summer and fall has really helped us narrow down general patterns that the elk have. Generally they like to move from here to here in the evening and in the morning they generally might move in this location etc. Armed with this kind of information Dallen and I were both able to be successful in bringing home meat for the family from a very tough area to hunt. The key has been the use of multiple trail cameras and moving them around the mountain until I found the key locations where I see the most activity. I was a little surprised where the elk were and especially where the elk weren't. I thought for sure they would be in one particular area but there was no sign of them there.

Dallen's bull really has some mass in it's antler. I think I will send some of it's teeth off to deerage.com to find out how old it is.

Dallen also pointed out how cool a European Skull mount this bull will make. The pedicle looks like it was broke years ago and it grows out the side of it's head.

Cliffs at sunset wihle Elk Hunting

Elk Antler at Sunset

X-Bolt Stailnless Stalk with Bull Elk

View of some cliffs at sunset while out elk hunting. Elk Antler at sunset. X-Bolt 270 WSM with Dallen's 2013 bull elk.

Minutes before Dallen shoots this bull elk it walks past a Browning Range Ops trail camera (shown directly below). Unfortunately for whatever reason the camera didn't pick him up until he was almost all the way past the camera. The camera usually does better, I'm guessing the bull was walking directly towards the camera then turned? They detect the IR signature change and motion better when the animals pass directly broadside.

 

Here's some video of bears on the trail cameras over the past couple of weeks. They seem to like to try and take out my cameras lately. Starting to be a regular theme by the stinkers.

 

Here's some video of a five point bull elk on the trail cameras that was hanging around the past couple of weeks.

European Skull Mount of Charlie One Horn Elk

Elk Antler at Sunset

European Skull Mount of Charlie One Horn Elk

European Skull mount of Charlie One Horn. Because the one antler is so heavy we have not been able to find a way to mount him on the wall. So for now he makes for a great desktop mount. At some point in his life he broke the pedicel off his skull right off exposing his brain. Lots of arthritis has grown around his eye socket. Bone grew back over his brain except one small half inch sized spot.

 

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