2013 Archery Elk Hunting Opening Day — Checking My Trail Cameras

5x6 Bull Elk on Browning Recon Force Trail Camera

This 5x6 bull walked by the camera the day before the opener with his velvet shed. Yes! The elk are still here and I highly dislike velvet.

 

Huge Wold Spider

I found this huge wolf spider the night before the archery opener. This critter is about the size of the palm of my hand.

 

Checking the Browning Trail Cameras

This camera captured the nice 3x4 mule deer buck I had the previous time out.

 

Lots of Ruff Grouse on the mountain this year.

It's nice to see lots of Ruff Grouse on the mountain this year.

 

Opening day of the archery elk season is finally here. After reviewing the patterns of where the elk had been all summer, thanks to my Browning Trail cameras, I was hopeful to get into some on opening day. Opening day also marked two weeks out from the last time checking my trail cameras so I pulled SDHC cards come mid-day.

The night before the opener found me driving up the mountain in my old Montero. I spent the night across the two front seats of the Montero and awoke early to hiking up into the area I have watched the highest concentration of elk over the summer.

After spending all morning in the baking heat not finding any elk or sign of them to speak of I started hiking to all of my trail cameras to pull the SDHC cards and see what activity was in the area over the past two weeks. As I suspected the elk had all but vanished. Where I had been getting daily elk activity on about three of the cameras there were only a couple of elk passing by in the past two weeks.

The five or more spike elk and the two 4&5 point bulls that had been in the area were not on a single camera. They were all gone. Although the cows and younger bulls had vanished the two largest bulls we had on camera made a couple passes by the cameras. Yes!

The bull that both Dallen and I want to shoot passed by one of my trail cameras the day before the opener with it's velvet already shed. This gave me needed encouragement to get back in there. If I didn't have the trail cameras to show me a little of what is going on in the area I might have completely given up on the area and hunted somewhere else. Thankfully the cameras work great at capturing the activity of the elk.

I'll be back soon.

 

 

Young Rubber Boa Snake

Resting in some cliffs while archery elk hunting

These snakes are so cool. This a a very young Rubber Boa. The third Rubber Boa I have found on this mountain while hunting over the years.

 

Taking a break in some cliffs after hunting the opening morning.

 

Real Tree Max-1 in black and white

Getting ready to check one of my Recon Force trail cameras

The Real Tree Max-1 looks really good in black and white. Walking up to check one of my Recon Force trail cameras.

 

A Black Bear on Video! Mounting Trail Cameras to Get The Best View.

Black Bear on a Range Ops Trail Camera

One frame from the video of the Black Bear on the Range Ops trail camera.

 

Browning Recon Force Trail Camera Canted on Tree

Canting the trail camera to match the incline of the trail it is recording gets the animal better framed in the images and video.

The Browning Trail Camera Tree Mount makes it easy to point the camera the way you need it.

I placed this new camera out today on a trail leading up into the pines.

 

Red Squirrel Eating Pine Nuts

This Red Squirrel munched on pine nuts next to me while checking the trail cameras. They can rip through a pine cone in blazing speed.

 

Browning AA Trail Camera Batteries

The Browning AA trail camera batteries look really cool. I'm giving them a try for the first time. (Dec. 2013: These are good batteries and you can view favorite batteries for my trail cameras.)

 

I got the black bear on video! I have twice had a black bear get captured at night with IR black and white images in weeks past. Two weeks ago I even ran into a bear at 30 yards when I was on my way in checking my cameras. It was a cool and exciting experience. Especially cool because bears are unheard of in this area.

After using the trail cameras for about a month I was sold on the video that the browning trail cameras capture. With every encounter you get you capture so much more with the video than you do with the images. I had hopes that I had captured the bear on one of the cameras two weeks ago but didn't. After setting all my cameras to capture video I had yet to get the bear on the cameras until now.

After reviewing the footage of the black bear it would appear that he smells something he doesn't like. As the bear comes into frame he starts to get more and more nervous, then he eventually turns around (during the 5 second delay between captures) then bolts away running directly away from the camera. He smelled something he didn't like. I just don't see how it could have been the camera. Who knows???

As I spend more and more time working with the trail cameras I have found that I like to rotate the camera to be on the same plain as the trail that the camera is watching. Often my cameras are setup watching a trail that is on an incline. If I set the camera level watching a inclined trail, animals are not in full frame as they cross through the viewing area. On one side I get chopped off legs and on the other side, chopped off antlers. Rotating the camera to be on the same angle as the trail gives me video and images with the animal fully framed all the way across the viewing area.

When the trail cameras are canted on the tree they sure look like they are mounted incorrectly but they capture great footage with the animals fully framed in the viewing area. Unless I mentioned that the image is canted you would never know that the video or image has been canted to match the incline.

With the Browning trail camera tree mounts I have found a couple of different ways that I can mount them on the tree. 1. You can do the typical two straps around the tree. 2. There are two holes in the mounting plate where two quarter inch lag bolts can be used to secure it to the tree. I recommend using the sharp grabbing screw of a tree stand foot peg to bore a pilot hole to use to get the lag bolts to screw into the tree. The lag bolts do not have the sharpest point and are a little difficult to get to start into the tree unless you have a pilot hole to get them started. 3. I have also found using the mounts great for use on small diameter trees by placing the mount sideways across the tree.

I picked up a couple more Recon Force Browning trail cams this week and set them out while checking the others cameras. One new camera I placed on a trail on the edge of heavy dark pines. I would figure that the elk would use this area to transition into the cool bedding areas of the pines. It didn't see any elk sign in the area where I set the camera at. Plenty of deer tracks and some cattle. We'll see in two weeks what is using the trail.

I set the second new Recon force trail camera back in the original location I had a camera along a well used trail in the heavy maple trees. The new location I moved the camera too two weeks ago produced beautiful video of elk and mule deer in the early morning light although I didn't get a lot of elk and deer passing by it. In fact for that matter I got the least number of critters on camera since I started putting them out this summer. I'm not sure what might be changing their habits. Heat, human traffic on the adjacent property, bears???

In two weeks I'll be back out checking the cameras and I will be carrying my bow. :) Hopefully a good bull is hanging around.

Mule Deer Buck Skull

Browning Trail Camera Mount with Lag Bolts

I found this partial piece of a mule deer skull. This was a pretty good buck that died with it's antlers. Lion kill, wounded by a hunter? The highly zigzagging sutures in the skull show this was an older buck.

 

Here's the Browning Trail Camera Tree Mount securely mounted using 1/4 x 2" lag bolts.

 

Spike Elk with Recon Force Trail Camera

Cow and calf elk on Recon Force trail camera

Here's a spike elk walking past one of my a Recon Force trail cameras.

This location makes for making beautiful photos in the early morning light.

Here's a cow and calf elk walking past the trail cam.

Mule Deer Buck on Recon Force Trail Camera

Bull Elk on Recon Force trail camera

The best mule deer buck that we have had on the trail cameras. Looks like a big 3x4 with eye guards. This bull elk isn't to shabby. He has really small g5 points budding. If they are long enough or grow more he'll be a 6x6. This might be the same bull  I got on video the last time I checked the camera.

 

 

Wow a Black Bear! Checking Trail Cameras — Using a Browning Trail Camera Mount

Black Bear in Trees

One of two photos I got of the Black Bear before it turned and headed out of Dodge.

 

Black bear I saw while checking trail cameras.

The second of the two photos I got of the bear. You have to use your imagination to fill in the blanks of the big ball of brown fur.

 

Bull Moose with Browning Range Ops Trail Camera

A bull moose came in and drank for a while on the Spec Ops trail camera.

Broken bracket on a Browning Recon Force Trail Camera

Oops! I broke off one of the mounting brackets. Don't try mounting a Browning Trail Camera to a skinny tree and then try to adjust the angle of it with broken branch shims. Use a trail cam mount.

 

Browning Recon Force Trail Camera tilted back with tree mount

The Browning Tree Mount makes pointing the Recon Force trail camera in the right direction a breeze.

 

Browning Recon Force Trail Camera on skinny tree

This is how the Recon Force trail camera looked on the skinny tree before I broke the bracket trying to get the camera to point up the hill.

 

Browning Trail Camera Mount

Here's the Browning Trail Camera Tree Mount securely mounting horizontally across the skinny tree trunk. The excess webbing is wrapped around the tree many times above and below the mount.

 

Small creek near elk bedding area

Here's a small creek near a great elk bedding area and close to where I just moved one of my Recon Force trail cameras.

 

This trip out to check the trail cameras was pretty exciting. Because it takes a good five hours to hike in to check the cameras I headed out a little earlier than normal in hopes of having a little time to work on building Pack Wheel game carts in the afternoon. I normally prefer to check the cameras in the middle of the day to lessen the chance of disturbing game near my trail cameras.

It was about a quarter after nine as I approached the first camera on my hike. As I got about a 100 yards or so away from the camera I startled something that went out to the left and something that went out to the right. I quickly made a Moo sound to see if whatever I spooked would think I was a cow and come back to investigate. Within a few seconds whatever it was that went out to the right came sneaking back in to take a look at me. As I started making out the critter I first thought it was an elk but quickly realized this was no elk. It was a large cinnamon colored black bear. Boy did he look big!

The bear stopped about 30 yards away from me in pretty thick cover and was looking around trying to find the "Moo." Luckily the bear was looking for me a little to my right. This bought me a few seconds to pull out the camera and try to get a few photos. Unfortunately, he only paused briefly then turned and quickly moved back into the timber. I'm guessing I didn't smell like a cow. Anyhow, I tried to get some photos but they are pretty much just a brown ball of fur in the trees.

Now that was cool. Bears have not been a common sight on this mountain. I have captured a bear twice on the trail cameras this summer and now I actually ran into one. Very cool.

After reviewing the video on the trail camera I found that the critter that busted out to the left was a spike elk. The Recon Force camera captured him coming down the trail headed right for me then he hears and or sees me and comes running back past the camera. Seven minutes later after watching the bear I come walking through past the camera. I always like to walk past my cameras when I check them to make sure they are working properly. You can catch the action of the spike and me at the end of the video in this post.

I hoped that one of the cameras this trip out checking them would have the bear on it but after reviewing them none of them did. Maybe next time.

This time in I decided to move DIYHNTR03 a Recon Force trail camera to watch a heavily used trail further up the mountain. The location of this camera has been my most consistent location to get elk on film. Elk are moving past this camera's location daily however so far only spikes and two year old 4 to 5 point bulls. I'm working on getting a few more cameras so for the time being I moved this camera and will probably place another one in this location when I get some more cameras.

I'm sure that once it starts getting close to September and the rut I will start seeing a different variety of bulls come by this location. For now I wanted to check out a see what might be moving in this other location I have been wanting to check.

When I got to the trail I wanted to move the camera to I found my choice of trees to hang the camera on pretty slim. There was one small piece of Oak Brush that was about 2 1/2 inches in diameter that would work. I mounted the camera and fiddled placing sticks between the camera and tree trying to get the angle of the camera pointed upward to watch the trail above. In the process of cinching down the strap to snug it against the tree I busted off one of the strap brackets on the back of the camera. Dang it!

I looked over the small size of the tree and realized that cinching the strap down on a tree this small puts direct strain right on the bracket. On any other normal sized tree the strap would not be pulling directly on the bracket. Also noticed that using pieces of branches as shims to wedge between the camera and tree places more stress directly on the brackets. And I was doing both, small tree and branch shims. Bad combo. Oops!

Luckily I had a Browning Tree Mount with me. I would have used the mount right off the bat with this tree however with the tree so small the teeth on the mount would not grip the tree. Now that I had broke of the bracket I started really thinking of how I has going to get the trail cam mounted on this tree. I realized that I could strap the mount to the tree sideways instead of vertical. I had to crisscross the straps across the back of the tree and the mount secured to the tree nicely.

Once I had the Browning Tree Mount secure on the tree, getting the camera to point in the prefect direction to watch the trail was really easy. My only concern now is that I have had a couple instances where an elk and a moose have came right up and placed their nose on the camera. If this happens with this camera on this mount there is a much greater possibility of the camera being moved to not point in the correct direction. The leverage of the mounting arm could cause the ball joint to slip a little if a elk nudged the camera with it's nose. I tightened up the mount as tight as I could and we'll see what it gets in a couple weeks. Hopefully the critters don't move it around.

In the video at the top of this post I have clips from all four cameras I have out. All three Browning Trail Cameras, Spec Ops, Recon Force and Range Ops trail cameras are shown in this video. All three camera models take great video. I'm really liking the video option over taking images... but it does chew up the batteries a little faster.

On the cameras this time we got lots of cow elk, calf elk, mule deer does, fawns and young bucks. I'm not sure where the large mule deer disappeared to that we had on camera a month ago. We did get a few bull elk and a bull moose. We got the largest bull elk so far. A 5x6 bull that I would guess would score around 260 BC. Dallen and I are hoping he sticks around for September and that he is able to finish growing the G5 point on both antlers. He's not huge but we'll take him. He's larger than either of us has ever taken.

Sadly now I have to wait a couple weeks before I go out to check them again.

 

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