WINTER COLUMN: Playing spy games in the woods
Nothing brings the kid out of a hunter quite like game cameras.
These stealthy spy cams hang on trees and automatically take photos and videos of whatever or whoever passes in front of them, giving hunters a fascinating glimpse of wildlife behavior and a highly effective, high-tech tool for figuring out where and when to hunt.
Game cams are big business throughout the country and around the world, with many brands offering a wide range of capabilities, including audio and video, variable trigger speeds and infrared flash for nocturnal surveillance.
The technology has come a long way in recent years and continues to evolve. The newest and most expensive game cams actually send images to your cell phone, a wildly entertaining option that requires monthly payments to a cellular carrier.
Over the past few years, my friends and I have used game cameras to capture and catalogue thousands of images, mostly of deer but also of wild pigs, coyotes, raccoons, wild turkeys, bobcats, various birds of prey and, of course, ourselves.
Whenever someone makes a “card run” on our string of cameras, we pepper each other with emails, phone calls, theories and questions. Where was that? Where did he come from? Is that a shooter? Is that the same buck from last year? Where do you think he's bedding down?
Some of the biggest whitetails we've caught on camera were never actually seen by anyone in the field. A few of the most impressive bucks have earned mythical status for their ability to raid our corn piles and traverse our entire hunt club, month after month and sometimes year after year, without ever showing themselves during legal shooting time. Like hunters around the country, we obsess over these nocturnal “ghosts,” poring over game cam images and giving them goofy names like “Bullwinkle,” “Fat Man” and “Nine Ball.”
So far this year, we've captured a few nice ones on camera (above). We've also kept tabs on a healthy turkey population, a nasty (and hopefully temporary) infestation of wild hogs, and a few errant hunting dogs.
But with just a few weeks left in the deer season, those game cam shots are as close as any of us have come to a trophy buck.
We'll see how it goes.
Got any good pics?
We'd like to see some of your best and most interesting game cam photos from this year. Huge bucks? Odd shots? Rare animals? If you've got any images you'd like to share, please email them to email@example.com.
The images must be from your own camera, and from this year. Please include your name, contact information and the county where the photograph was taken.
We'll pick the best and run them in an upcoming outdoors column. We'll share more online at postandcourier.com.
Reach Matt Winter, Tideline magazine editor, at 843-937-5568 or firstname.lastname@example.org.