Our grandfathers could never have imagined the hunting tools we have today. Back then, Grandpa might have placed a piece of thread across a trail to determine roughly when a deer walked by. Today, we not only can know exactly when a deer shows up at a certain place, but scouting cameras can show us the deer and every other animal that passes by.
The period during which we can legally kill a deer is relatively short, especially if we hunt only with a firearm. If you add the archery and the muzzleloader seasons, it's longer. Add a scouting camera to your arsenal and you never have to quit hunting just because a season ends.
A few years ago, scouting cameras made the transition from film to digital. This technology-driven improvement increased prices, but not by very much. I suspect that a careful analysis would show that the real price actually dropped because digital cameras eliminate the cost of developing film. With digital cameras, you can view photos instantly without cost.
Another big advancement came just in the last year or so. My previous cameras were bulky and used D-cell batteries which didn't last long. Cold weather would usually kill the batteries and often in warm weather they'd expire before I got back to check them.
Today, the cameras I'm using are the Bushnell Trophy Cam and the Moultrie Game Spy. They're very compact and use AA batteries. I buy lithium batteries, which cost more than alkaline batteries but they last much, much longer - so in the long run, lithium batteries are cheaper. They tolerate the cold much better too and they're so reliable that I don't bother to carry extra batteries.
This week when I checked some of my cameras, I took my little netbook computer along in a backpack. I pulled the memory card out of one camera, inserted it into the computer and transferred the photos to the hard drive. It took only a couple of minutes to view almost 400 photos. Parading in front of that camera was a menagerie that included several deer, a raccoon family, a coyote pup, a woodchuck, rabbits and a possum.
When the Everyday Hunter isn't hunting, he's thinking about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting. If you want to tell him exactly where your favorite hunting spot is, contact him at EverydayHunter@gmail.com. This column and others can be accessed online at www.EverydayHunter.com.
The great thing for hunters is that scouting cameras show you that the deer are alive and well, tell you whether they're bucks or does and give you an idea where they're spending their time. You still have to figure out how, when and where to kill one.
Some hunters think scouting cameras offer an unfair advantage. If you think so, nothing says you have to use that advantage. Just enjoy the wildlife your cameras will show you - maybe in your own backyard.
In the woods, they definitely will show you more deer and more critters of all kinds. If they don't, the solution is simple. Move your camera.
Scouting cameras mean we don't have to be limited to looking for tracks in the snow or mud. They mean we aren't dependent on finding the saplings rutting bucks have rubbed clean of their bark. They mean we don't have to be discouraged when all we see is a glimpse of a white flag over the bounding rump of a deer as far away as our eyes can see.
Digital cameras are a lot more expensive than the thread Grandpa used, but so is everything else. Today, the least expensive digital cameras are probably as good as or better than more expensive cameras of a few years ago. If you've ever had any interest in using scouting cameras, now is the time to buy. They're easier than ever to use, they're extremely reliable and they take very good quality photos.
Even if they don't lead you to your next buck, you'll still get lots of enjoyment viewing the wildlife they capture.