Checking Trail Cameras - Testing A Fat Bike Wheel On The Pack Wheel

Me hiking in with a Pack Wheel and a Mineral block

Hiking up the mountain hauling in a mineral block, trail cameras and a shovel to dig out the wallow.  


My license plate on my Montero.

It was still a little muddy going up the mountain in May.  


hiking in with a Pack Wheel and a Mineral block.


hiking in with a Pack Wheel and a Mineral block.

Testing a fatty tire on the Pack Wheel.  

November 7th of last year I made my final trip up the mountain to check my trail cameras. It was a fun last trip up the mountain were I ran into two different sets of fresh bear tracks. I even got some nice footage of a large black bear that had been by my camera just a couple hours earlier.

On my last trip up the mountain last November I left three of my older Browning trail cameras out setup to take images. I have been excited to see what those cameras captured in over six months since I put them out.

With the rain we have been getting almost every weekend all spring long it has taken some time before I had a chance to get back up the mountain. When that mountain gets wet it turns into a greasy, slimy, mess making vehicular travel a little fun to say the least. 

In the location of one of my trail cameras I have been placing mineral blocks out for a couple years. The blocks do a decent job of keeping critters around long enough to take their photo but haven't done anything to really attract any more elk. In fact I almost believe that I use to get more elk on trail cameras in the years proceeding having the mineral block in the area. I have a few trail cameras in this area and elk that do come by some of my cameras rarely go the additional two hundred yards around the canyon to where the mineral block is. But if elk do come by the mineral block they'll give it a lick and get their picture taken. At least this is what I have found in this area. Minerals just aren't attracting animals but they do help with getting photos.

On this trip up I wanted to take in a new mineral block. I also had six more trail cameras, plenty of batteries to replace in the three cameras I had left out and a shovel to dig out the wallows. Of course I always carry my normal gear like a hand saw, snacks, knives, space blanket, BDM pistol, and head lamps etc. Anytime I go up on the mountain I like to go prepared so that I can safely spend the night should something happen to me.

To help with hauling in the forty four pound mineral blocks I like to use my Pack Wheel. On this trip I strapped down an Alps Outdoorz Commander frame pack to the top of the Pack Wheel and then placed the mineral block, trail cameras, batteries and shovel on top of this platform that the Commander frame pack provided.

For those of you who follow my blog and know me, I have worked on designing the Pack Wheel hiking/game cart for years now. It started with me looking for a system to haul bone out elk off the mountain by myself on my solo DIY archery elk hunts. 2007's archery elk hunt was the tuning point that got me really working on the concept. With all the years I have worked on perfecting the system I am always looking at testing something new. I may not be the fastest at testing everything that I have in my head to try but I do like to thoroughly test and look at options that may be helpful to the Pack Wheel. I take the Pack Wheel into some of the craziest places to see how it performs. I want to know everything I possibly can about how, where and what a Pack Wheel is capable of.

 

One of the things I am testing this year is a fatter tire and rim. So, on this trip up the mountain I am testing a new tire/rim combo in real world environments. The fat tire preformed well, was it earth shatteringly better than the current tires and wheel offered for the Pack Wheel, No. I will be testing it further this summer and during the hunting seasons this fall. Some of my initial thoughts are. It does offer the ability to run tire pressures at just 15 psi in a tubeless setup. This low tire pressure should soften the "ride" over obstacles. Did I notice this on this trip, hmm... slightly. The 2.35 inch tires on the 26/29 builds we offer I am able to run around 23 psi and feel just about as good.

On this fatter tire I am going with a really lightweight build. One of my requirements with all of my Pack Wheels is to keep them as light as possible and as strong as possible. The fatter tire/rim I am testing weighs in slightly lower in weight than our 29er builds. So why do I not just offer this fat wheel? Well I probably will... My dealer pricing for the components of the fatter build is $97 more. The rim is also not as strong as our other rims. Also, the rims are only available with 32 spokes instead of the stronger 36 spokes that I like to use. To compensate for only having 32 spokes I am running the strongest downhill jumping spokes I can find. Is it strong enough for my demands? Probably. Is it stronger than the 26/29 wheels we build? No. Is it worth the extra cost? Hmm...

Because I am taking Pack Wheels in areas that are not groomed biking trails, I am really insistent that the wheels be very strong. A Pack Wheel doesn't get the stresses like riding and jumping a mountain bike but a Pack Wheel has other stresses from the rough terrain it may be going through. Going on game trails and off trail the wheel and spoke may encounter sticks and rocks that may take out the spokes. Having more spokes helps insure that the wheel is still strong enough to get you back off the mountain should a spoke gets broken on a rock etc.

I'll be testing the fat wheel more and may offer this option in the future. If you are interested in a fatter option for your Pack Wheel drop me a line from the contact page on the Pack Wheel website.

On my trip up the mountain this time I didn't see any bear tracks. There were a few elk and deer tracks. I did see four deer with one being a young buck just starting to grow his first antlers.

It was nice to get back out on the mountain. I wish I could just live there. Sometimes I wish I was a mountain man, born 200+ years ago...

Now it's time to go through what the cameras captured during the winter. It's like Christmas every time. I love it. Trail cam pics below!

Bull Moose Browning Trail Camera Photo

Nice Bull Moose that came past one of my Browning Trail Cameras in December.  


Cow Elk Browning Trail Camera Photo

Some cow elk getting their photo taken.


Coyote Browning Trail Camera Photo

Here's a fun coyote pic that was captured this winter.


Red Squirrel Browning Trail Camera Photo

The snow was deep enough that this squirrel is right at the level of the camera.


Mountain Lion Browning Trail Camera Photo

A mountain lion passed by one of the cameras in a snow storm this winter.


Bull Elk Browning Trail Camera Photo

A couple real young bull elk showing up in May.


Cow Moose Browning Trail Camera Photo

The snow is starting to get deep.


Bull elk Browning Trail Camera Photo

A young bull elk passing the wallow in May.


Bull Moose Browning Trail Camera Photo

Young bull moose at the wallow in winter.

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!

 

 

 

 

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.

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