Digging Out The Marshy Spring — Summer Trail Camera Action


A photo posted by Brady Smith (@diyhntr) on




Trail cameras are the best! I love capturing the activity of the critters on the mountain. Especially in full HD video with my Browning Recon Force trail cameras. As you can see in the videos on this page I have captured some pretty fun stuff so far this year.

After seeing the 7x8 bull on my trail cam last year I have been hopeful some other "larger" bulls would be on my cameras this summer. So far I have only been getting two spikes and a variety of two year old bulls. I usually get a couple three year old bulls but none so far this year. Well if I did have a large bull on camera do you think I would be showing anyone until after I knew he was dead? ;)

For years I have been slowing digging out a marshy spring area trying to make it into a small pond for the critters to play in. I regularly pack in a shovel to dig from the safety of the solid ground around the muddy, marshy spring. In July I packed in waders for the first time so that I could really get into the mud and water and dig it out. I spent 3 hours in the nasty mud digging it out. I should have brought gloves as my right hand received a nasty blister. What a workout. I still would like to dig it out some more on one side but it will have to wait for another trip.

I have also been hauling in 50 pound mineral and salt blocks with my Pack Wheel to help encourage the critter to hang around to get their picture taken.

On this page are some of my favorite trail cam action from this summer. At the bottom of this page is a YouTube playlist with most of the video action I have posted. 

The elk and moose have really been enjoying the new pond. Seeing the spike I call Thumper (a small spike with a notch in his right ear) splashing around in the pond is so awesome. Excited to see more of this in the future.

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Browning Trail Camera with rechargeable batteries

I have gone through many alkaline batteries in trail cams from using them in video mode. To help save on batteries I made some homemade 12v 10 pack Ni-MH external battery packs but found that the bears and elk liked to rip them off the trees and chew the cords in half. This year I have been just using rechargeable batteries inside the trail cameras and they work fairly well. Because they don't start out at 12v with only eight batteries in them I like to replace the batteries every trip up the mountain to maintain enough power to run the cameras. The only downside I have found to using the NiMH rechargeable batteries in the camera is that the night video doesn't have quite as good of distance for critters that are further away from the camera.

Browning Trail Camera with rechargeable batteries

With fully charged Ni-MH rechargeable batteries the screen on my Browning trail cams will show around 53-60%.






Checking Trail Cameras In June - More Pack Wheel Fat Tire Testing

Selfie of Kb and The DIY Hunter, hiking in with a Pack Wheel and a Mineral block

My youngest hunting bud KB along for the hike and helping me by taking photos and video.  

Hiking Uphill with Pack Wheel

Climbing a steeper grade with a 50 lb mineral block and around 70+ pounds of gear.

hiking in with a Pack Wheel and a Mineral block.

Hiking past a Browning Strike Force Trail camera.

Big Black Bear Browning Trail Camera Photo

The big Black Bear that I get on occasion on my trail cameras. Notice his size compared to me in the photo just above this photo. 

Exactly one month ago I checked my cameras that I had left out for the winter and took in more. I also was testing a fatter tire system on the Pack Wheel. On this trip up the mountain I wanted to test the fatty tire a little more.

KB was my helper for this trip on the mountain. He was excited to be out on the mountain with dad. We also had to take his Micro Midas BL-22 just in case we came across a coyote. He wants to shoot one really bad. It's pretty cute. He has visions of getting rich off the $50 bounty the state of Utah has on them to help with the deer herd. I like his inthusasium. He has over the years realized that getting a coyote isn't as easy as it looks on the hunting videos.

On this trip in a picked up a little larger mineral block that weighs in at 50 lbs. I used the Pack Wheel to haul in this block another trail camera, 80 AA rechargeable batteries, 3 liters of Powerade, a gallon zip lock baggie full of granular B&J mineral lick, and a shovel. I didn't weigh it but I can safely say it was over 70 pounds of added weight to the Pack Wheel.

Like I have said in the past I have clearly found that minerals don't bring in the critters. They just help me get photos of the critters that are already there. I was very surprised thinking that I might have more elk and larger deer show up. This just hasn't been the case. I have yet to even get a four point buck on camera at the location I like to put out the mineral, and that's in over three years of putting the mineral out and having cameras watching it. I also still get very few elk at all on the two cameras I have by the mineral drop area. Now if an elk or deer is at the mineral drop location they will stick around for a bit to get a lick of the mineral but by far minerals are no magic attractant.

A secondary reason for hauling in the mineral blocks is that it provides me a great way to test the Pack Wheel during the summer and provide Pack Wheel upper body exercise. There is no way I would be hauling in 50 lb blocks of mineral on my back without the Pack Wheel as it easily as it greatly helps. 

Like last time out I am testing a few new things with the Pack Wheel, primarily the fatter wheel and tire. While I have found that a fatter tire and wheel to be considerably more expensive to build I haven't found it to be earth shatteringly better than the fat 2.35 wide tires currently offered on the 26/29er builds. Don't get me wrong, the fatter tire is nice and works well. I just wouldn't run out and upgrade my current wheel to this one on my Pack Wheel. If I was shopping for a Pack Wheel I think the fatter tire option is something to consider.

It was nice having KB along with me on this trip. I like spending one on one time with my kids. KB was great at taking photos and video of me testing the Pack Wheel on the trip in. He was a trooper and we both got in some great exercise not returning home until around 11pm. Oops, momma wasn't too happy as KB had camp Kiesel to go to early in the morning the next day.

On the way in we notice a lot of bear sign. My second camera had been turned upside down and had chew marks in it. A bear had messed with it just hours after I put it out a full month ago. no images from that camera.

At my third camera there was mud wiped across the camera. Yep, the footage shows another bear. And at this camera I also got a couple good photos of the large Black Bear I have seen before up there on my trail cameras.

Approaching the fourth camera along my route an ant bed had recently been ripped up with a log being pulled out of the ground. this was  just to the side of the camera. You can see a little of the bear's back in the video that was captured of the bear raiding the ant mound.

I like getting the bears on camera I just wish they would leave my cameras alone. I'm pretty sure their noses are able to track down the cameras so easily.

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Bull Elk Browning Trail Camera Photo

Two young bull elk that have stopped by the mineral block a couple times in the pat month. The only elk to come into the minerals.

Moose Selfie Browning Trail Camera Photo

A bull moose getting a selfie on a Browning Strike Force trail camera.

Bull Elk Browning Trail Camera Photo

One of the young bulls that is frequenting the area.

Black Bear Browning Trail Camera Photo

The smaller of the two bears that are in the area. This bear is the one that has been getting my cameras. Including this camera just after this photo was taken.

Black Bear Browning Trail Camera Photo

The big Black Bear. This guy is a pig.

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.

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