Scouting For Elk — First Photos From a Spec Ops Browning Trail Camera

 

Bull Elk Browning Spec Ops Trail Camera BTC-3

This young bull elk was captured on a Browning Spec Ops trail camera.

Dang, I just noticed the date is wrong on the camera... it's 2013 not 2012... which is also giving an incorect moon phase. Note to self — fix the date next trip up the mountain.

 

5x5 Bull Elk Browning Range Ops Trail Camera

A herd of cows and calves and this young bull passed by the Range Ops trail camera.

 

Cow Moose Spec Ops Trail Camera

This moose was captured on a Browning Spec Ops trail camera.

 

Bull Elk Browning Recon Force trail camera

I moved DIYHNTR03 a Recon Force BTC-2 camera just a little so I could get better recoginition with the motion sensor on passing animals. Unfortunatly I forgot to test it before I left it last week. As you can see the camera is pointing a little too high in the air. Hopefully this is fixed for next time.

 

I moved the trail cameras around a little last time out checking them and I added a Browning Spec Ops trail camera to the cameras that I have out. I really like the two inch color TFT viewing screen the Spec Ops camera has. It made positioning the camera a lot easier as it allows me to see what the camera sees in real time when I am mounting it on the tree.

The time before I went out to check the cameras we had a much needed rain storm hit the mountain. I knew that if the mountain was really wet that the clay on the dirt roads can be horrifically sticky. I figured that as dry as it has been that the ground would have dried up enough before I headed up the mountain in the morning on my 29er mountain bike. I was wrong. I ended up carrying or walking my bike up a large portion of the mountain because the clay would build up around the frame and wheels. However a couple hours later it was dried right up for a smooth ride off the mountain.

Being new to trail cameras I have been learning a lot about how they operate. One thing that I have noticed with the Browning trail cameras is there excellent motion detection. My friends often complain about their cameras filling up their disks full of moving weeds. Browning Trail cameras motion detection is able to filter out the motion of moving weeds. However because the motion detection filters out motion like this it also filters out motion like a animal walking straight at the camera, because the signature of the animal grows gradually the camera does not recognize it as motion. I have found that the cameras work best by setting them up so that animals pass parallel to the camera giving good solid motion signatures.

Another thing I have learned to do this last time out was to verify exactly where the camera was pointing before I leave. My DIYHNTR03 Recon Force camera was pointing a little high catching the tops of the elk and deer as they walked by. This time out I noticed it with my Samsung USB cable and card reader. (learn more about my SD card reading system) I repositioned the camera and walked past it a couple times then pulled the card and reverified the field of view in the camera before leaving it this time.

This time out I captured a lot of elk. Many spikes and a couple young four to five points. Elk's antler growth is winding down with them shedding their velvet in mid August. I am hopeful an older bull is in the area that we just haven't found yet. Neither Dallen or myself have yet to harvest anything better than a 5 point. Then again things will change once the rut starts kicking in. Bulls will be running around looking for cows all over the place.

Bull Elk feeding with Browning Spec Ops trail camera

Bull Elk Browning Spec Ops Trail camera

Five young bull elk captured on a Browning Spec Ops trail camera. A 5x5 and four spikes all in the same photo. Pretty cool I think.

 

Another young bull elk captured on the Browning Spec Ops trail camera.

 

Mud built-up on front wheel of 29er mountian bike

Mud built-up on rear wheel of 29er mountian bike

The mud was terrible trying to ride in on my 29er mountain bike. It built-up around the front wheel like crazy.

 

Mud packed in between the frame and rear wheel on my 29er mountain bike.

 

Browning Range Ops in Oak Brush

Elk with Range Ops trail camera

I moved the Range Ops camera to this new location watching a heavily traveled trail the climbs out onto a ridge.

 

Herd of elk feeding past a Range Ops trail camera.

I have a Recon Force trail camera watching this location now.


View other related Browning Trail Camera blog entries.

Scouting For Elk — Using Browning Recon Force Trail Cameras

I am finding that having a couple of Browning Trail cameras out on the mountain is a lot like Christmas. I get so excited to see what the cameras were able to capture. Back in May I placed scouted for elk and placed three Browning trail cameras out on the mountain. I got some cool photos of a black bear, elk, mule deer and moose when I checked them after two weeks. 

Bull Elk Browning Range Ops Trail Camera BTC-1

A bull elk with budding out a g4 on each antler. This is the best bull we have found to date. Dallen's pretty excited about this bull. He's hoping to get at least this bull if he can. You can see all four of the Rapid Fire photos the Range Ops trail cam took of this bull in the series below.

 

Moose with Browning Range Ops Trail Camera

Two cow moose walking past the Range Ops BTC-1 trail camera.

 

Galaxy S3 with USB adapter and SDHC card reader

Using a Samsung USB adapter to read the SDHC cards from the Browning Recon Force and Range Ops trail cameras.

 

Browning Spec Ops trail camera over wallow

A Browning Spec Ops BTC-3 trail camera setup over a spring that we think the bull elk will use as a wallow in the fall.

The camo on these cameras is amazing at blending right into the tree bark.

 

Looking at a moose photo on my Samsung Galaxy S3 phone.

Browsing photos while checking one of the Recon Force trail cameras. Looks like a cow moose came by after dark.

 

Dallen and I taking a break.

Dallen and me taking a break while checking the trail cameras.

 

On this trip out on the mountain Dallen came with me. He has the youth elk tag this year and we are hopeful that by using the trail cameras we will be able to find him a nice bull. He has already taken a spike and a 4x5 bull and I think he will be holding out for a six point. I hope we can pull it off for him. I'm still to this day trying to get my first ever six point bull. After seeing the 5 point on the trail camera photos this time out he's getting pretty excited. Not to mention there's a couple of pretty nice looking mule deer bucks that we captured on video this time.

Being a newbie to trail cameras I am learning more and more of how and where to place them. I am finding that the motion sensor works at it's best when a critter walks parallel to the camera. When I have a camera setup looking directly down a trail I often capture the critter passing going away from the camera but often miss the critters walking straight up the trail coming directly at the camera.

It took a while for me to figure out what was going on with the empty photos. The key that helped me figure this out was that all the photos with critters in them on this camera showed them going away. There would be lots of empty 6 frames rapid fire burst of nothing or in some cases just the first photo would have the very tail end of a deer barely showing in the edge of the photo and then 5 empty photos. Now that I have patterned the general path of the animals I have moved all of the cameras a little to get more passing views of the trails that they are on.

This time out I had a new toy to help me. I ordered a Samsung micro USB to USB adapter for my Galaxy S3 phone. This little cable is awesome. I can plug in USB keyboards, hard drives and in my case I can plug in a USB SD card reader. With this I am able to check the photos and video I get right there while I am checking the camera. If it wasn't for this adapter it would have been another couple of weeks before I was able to reposition the cameras slightly to get more of a passing view of the trails. With the adapter I was able to run through the photos on my phone and determine I needed to make the move right there on the mountain.

The AVI video format that the Browning Trail cameras take will not play with the media player that comes with the phone. I found that "MX Player" a free app on Google Play works great for playing the video files. (Dec. 2013: This app stopped working I now have a better app to view the trail camera videos.) Unfortunately, I didn't figure this out until I returned from the mountain. While on the mountain this time I was unable to play the files and unfortunately I turned off the video and set the camera to 6 frame rapid-fire. After seeing the way cool video that the camera had been capturing I'm wishing it was still taking video. The HD video the Recon Force trail camera takes is just amazing. So very cool! I compiled a few of the 62 videos in the YouTube clip viewable on the page.

I had the camera setup to take 30 second HD video clips whenever it gets motion triggered. Then wait five seconds before watching for motion again. I found that when the camera is using IR lighting that it only takes 10 seconds of video. In daylight it took 30 seconds of great look video.

Battery life has been wonderful with the cameras. Two of the cameras have been taking either video or rapid-fire images for four weeks now with Rayovac AA batteries and one camera shows 95% power and the other 93%. This is awesome. I was afraid that I would be spending a small fortune on batteries to keep them fed.

One of the cameras I have out is a Browning Range Ops. It retails about twenty less that the Recon Force BTC-2 trail camera. The Range Ops functions really well but the image quality is not near the quality of Recon Force. Not that the Range Ops quality is horrible but the Recon Force's images are just amazing. For the extra twenty I would no question get the Recon Force over the Range Ops. The specs on the Recon Force show that it has ZerO Blur Technology. Whatever the technology I like the sharp high resolution images it takes.

This time out we also placed a Spec Ops BTC-3 trail camera. This is the highest end Browning trail camera. It looks to me that it's biggest feature upgrade over the Recon Force is a two inch management screen. From this screen it is a little easier to setup the different modes of the camera. It is also great to view exactly what the camera is pointing at in real time making it nice to have the camera pointing exactly where you want it to. Once I get some photos on this camera I will be able to browse through them directly on the camera when I go out to check it. Where on the other cameras I can use the USB adapter cable to browse the images.

On this trip out scouting the area Dallen and I found an awesome spring area that we think will be a wallow for the bulls come the rut this fall. We setup the Spec Ops trail camera watching over this spring. I'm really excited to see what photos and video we get watching over this spot for the next several months. I am also curious to see if the quality of the images varies much from the Recon Force. The IR lighting is different between the two. I guess we'll see in a couple weeks.

Now I have to wait a couple weeks before I go out to check them again. Boy trail cameras are a lot of fun.

 

Bull Elk Browning Range Ops Trail Camera Image 1

Bull Elk Browning Range Ops Trail Camera Image 2

Bull Elk Browning Range Ops Trail Camera Image 3

Bull Elk Browning Range Ops Trail Camera Image 4

4x4 Bull Elk Browning Range Ops Trail Camera Image 1

4x4 Bull Elk Browning Range Ops Trail Camera Image 2

4x4 Bull Elk Browning Range Ops Trail Camera Image 3

4x4 Bull Elk Browning Range Ops Trail Camera Image 4

Creek close-up water rock

Small frog

Playing around with my Galaxy S3 phone taking a photo close-up of the creek flowing near where our trail cameras are out.

 

A little bitty frog that we found.

 

Dallen hiking while check trail cameras

Dallen checking Browning Recon Force Trail Camera

Dallen hiking while checking our trail cameras.

 

Dallen checking the Recon Force Browning trail camera that took the HD video shown above.

 

View other related Browning Trail Camera blog entries.

Scouting For Elk — First Time Out Checking My Browning Trail Cameras

Bull Elk Browning Recon Force Trail Camera BTC-2

A bull elk with four points on each side already on May 26 taken with a Browning Recon Force trail camera. You can see all six of the Rapid Fire photos in this series below.

 

Black Bear with Browning Recon Force Trail Camera

A Black Bear that walked by in the dark of night. All six of the Rapid Fire photos of this bear can be found below.

 

Spike Elk with Browning Recon Force Trail Camera

A spike elk that walked by the DIYHNTR03 camera.

 

Trek Cobia 29er with 36h Wheelset

My ride up the mountain — a Trek Cobia with custom 36 spoke 29er wheels.

 

Hidden Camouflage Browning Recon Force Trail Camera

Can you see the camera? Neither could I. I walked a 100 or so yards past it while looking for it. Luckily I marked it on my Back Country Navigator App and I turned around and went right to it. This camera I left in the same spot but I set it to take 30 sec HD video clips to see what I get on it next time out.

 

View of Browning Range Ops digital screen.

If you see the digital screen looking like this don't panic like I did. When I set it up in the new location it took a while to figure out what was going on with the digital screen on this Range Ops trail camera. You have to be looking directly into the screen or it will appear as black rectangles. I had placed the camera up about 8 feet in a tree looking down over the tall vegetation and trail that dropped off the back side of a ridge. By having the camera up so high I could not get the right angle to view the screen.

 

View of mountain

View of the mountain near where my trail cameras are set out.

 

I scouted for elk and placed three Browning trail cameras out a couple weeks ago. Because I was so excited to see what I would get on the cameras, it was difficult, but I was able to wait for two weeks before going back up the mountain to check the Browning Trail Cameras.

The excitement of wondering what might be on the cameras had me going crazy wanting to go check them, however I figured it would be best to leave them a while before checking on them. I was itching to see what I could get pictures of. Being new to trail cameras I also was looking to learn more from these first two weeks and place the cameras in better places or adjust the settings to better suit what I was needing.

I took my 29er mountain bike back in to double on getting exercise while I was checking my trail cameras. It's a good two hour ride up the mountain and another hour hike up to where my highest trail came is located. Plenty of good exercise, especially to help my bad knees. Biking has been the best thing for my knees.

I decided to move the Browning Range Ops Trail Camera to a different location. Were I placed it originally wasn't a bad area it just was a little more out of the way to check it along with the others.

I learned something when I moved the Range Ops trail camera to the new location. When you see the digital screen all covered with black boxes make sure you look at the screen from directly in front of it. You can think it is broke or the batteries are bad and change out the batteries and SDHC card all you want but the screen is still going to look this way... trust me I tried. Dummy me. :)

Once back off the mountain the very first image was of a bear. Way cool! I have never even seen a bear track on this mountain. I have heard rumors that they are up there but until now I have never seen any sign of them.

This bear came through after dark and I got 6 rapid fire photos of him walking past the camera. (see photos below) Unfortunately I had the Image Data Strip turned off on this camera. Hmm... Thought I had it turned on, on all the cameras. I like all the info printed on the bottom of the images. I'll have to double check it next trip out to make sure I get the data strip.

Here's the rough details of what I got on the cameras.

  • On the DIYHNTR01 Recon Force camera I got a cow elk, a moose in the timber, some mule deer and the bear. I like how you can name the cameras and if you have the image data strip turned on the name is printed in the data strip.
  • DIYHNTR02 is a Range Ops camera. This camera was the lowest on the mountain. It captured a bunch of moose photos where the moose appeared to be trying to remove the camera from the tree. There are dozens of strange pictures of the moose's neck and beard etc. The camera also captured several mule deer, mostly does and a small buck. There were two cow elk captured on this camera also. I have moved this camera up the mountain to watch a well used game trail.
  • DIYHNTR03 is a Recon Force and it captured lots of mule deer and elk walking and running past on a game trail. There were three different small bull elk and a couple of different small mule deer bucks on this camera. This camera like the other Recon Force was set on 6 frame rapid fire. I got a lot of images that lend me to believe I was missing a lot of the action so I have now set this camera to record 30 seconds of HD video when triggered. This should capture a lot more of the action. We'll see what it gets next time.

One thing that surprised me was the battery life. I came prepared to swap out batteries on all of the cameras and the camera that had new batteries when I put it out two weeks ago still showed 100% power. The batteries I am using are the less expensive Rayovac AA batteries. The other two cameras did well also but they already had well used batteries when I put them out so I went ahead and swapped out the batteries.

Rapid fire is a nice feature for the the game trails I placed the trail cameras on. Even with the rapid fire images it still can be difficult to capture everything that goes by. That is why I am trying the 30 sec HD video option on one of the cameras to see how much more it will capture.

Two additional things I learned: One, is that I don't want to place the camera where it is pointed directly at the sun early in the morning or late in the evening for that matter. Second, is when I place the camera along a trail, try to get a few feet further away than I did. So probably about 15-20 feet if possible.

With so many photos of elk and mule deer it was hard to narrow down what I should put on my blog post today. Below are a few of my favorites.

Bull Elk Browning Recon Force Trail Camera Image 1

Bull Elk Browning Recon Force Trail Camera Image 2

Bull Elk Browning Recon Force Trail Camera Image 3

Bull Elk Browning Recon Force Trail Camera Image 4

Bull Elk Browning Recon Force Trail Camera Image 5

Bull Elk Browning Recon Force Trail Camera Image 6

Black Bear Browning Recon Force Trail Camera Image 1

Black Bear Browning Recon Force Trail Camera Image 2

Black Bear Browning Recon Force Trail Camera Image 3

Black Bear Browning Recon Force Trail Camera Image 4

Black Bear Browning Recon Force Trail Camera Image 5

Black Bear Browning Recon Force Trail Camera Image 6

Cow Elk Rear Browning Recon Force Trail Camera

Small Mule Deer Buck Browning Recon Force Trail Camera

Cow elk walking past DIYHNTR01 camera.

 

Young mule deer buck on the trail camera.

 

Mule Deer Buck with Browning Recon Force Trail Camera

Two cow elk Browning Recon Force Trail Camera

The best mule deer buck on the trail cameras.

 

Two cow elk walking past the Browning Recon Force Trail Camera.

 

Mule Deer with Browning Recon Force Trail Camera

Moose with Browning Range Ops Trail Camera

Mule deer walking past DIYHNTR03. This moose got up close and personal with the trail cam.


View other related Browning Trail Camera blog entries.

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