Trail Cameras, June and July 2014

Last Sunday, Matt and I headed on over to check our trail cameras. We’ll probably get one more good check on them before hunting season starts. We got some images, though there aren’t as many good ones as the last time we checked them.

So, we’re still only seeing two different bucks. We didn’t get a good image of their antlers, but a month ago they looked pretty good. Hopefully we can get out soon and check out some new areas to hunt- I have some serious reservations about hunting this area again, even with how much time we’ve dumped into it (almost three years).

One positive is that on the way home, we found a new spot to duck hunt in. One that won’t require a mud motor to access, and which will hopefully be less populated than Mud Lake. Wisconsin opened an early teal season this year, so we hope to make use of the new spot.

We’re also at the month-and-a-half mark until Matt can go up for bear season.

Trout and Trail Cameras.

Sunday afternoon, we headed out to check our game cameras after a month of leaving them alone. Mostly, it was Trail Camera Images Starring Squirrel and Leaf (one camera had over 700 images. 690 of moving leaf), but we got some pretty good images.

And since we were out that way, it meant trying our hand at trout fishing again. Which also meant Matt getting one trout, losing one, and me getting none. However, I did find a hole in each wader. The bright side is that I found said holes long before the icy water of duck season would be a problem. Now I have even more reason to upgrade to chest waders. Plus, my line broke at the spool, so I spent 15 or 20 minutes in thigh deep water, trying to re-rig my ling with one hand. A lot of agricultural run off goes into this creek, so a lot of it is silting in. I got stuck with both legs in soft, knee deep, sucking mud. Matt’s trout was a nice one, though. I just don’t really enjoy fishing Black Earth Creek.

Looking west, downstream.

Looking west, downstream.

Matt's little rainbow.

Matt’s little rainbow.

Spring Turkey Mini-Movie.

Who doesn’t love a little stop motion animation? The way the Primos DPS cameras work is to take photos at set intervals during the daylight hours. An advantage of this is they will sometimes capture pictures of animals at a distance farther than a traditional triggered game camera will. They also have a pretty wide viewing area. The down side is that they don’t shoot at night, and that they produce an ungodly amount of data to sift through on a program that’s wonky at best. They also store images in .jpx format, more or less unviewable outside of said wonky program. However, we’ve gotten 3/4 of the Primos Cameras cleared, and the images of animals flagged, converted to jpg, and I put them into Windows Movie Maker today and set them to a bit of music with some other images. Enjoy!

Early Spring Turkey Scouting

Sunday afternoon we finally got out in the woods a bit. The weather warmed up significantly this weekend- near 60 on Sunday, with a high of 62 for Monday. It’ll drop back down the rest of the week, but we got out while we could and hung trail cams and did some light scouting ahead of turkey season.

First Snow and We Catch A Break with Trail Cams

This post is way late, as I had a burst of motivation this morning to get some stuff done, and one does not squander that kind of motivation. Especially when it occurs early on a morning that’s about 18 degrees Fahrenheit. Granted, part of it was seeing ice on the inside of our old windows, and the resulting imperative to get the shrink plastic up on them, stat. But then three loads of laundry and three sinkfuls of dishes just kind of happened on their own. My motivation around the house almost always overflows.

Anyhow. Monday was Veteran’s Day. Matt had a 76 this weekend (3-day weekend). So we made it out to hunt again last night. I was looking forward to it- the temperature had dipped the night before, and most of the morning, it had been snowing. Granted, it turned out to be just a dusting, but the low over night was forecast to be in the teens (it was) and Tuesday’s high only in the 30s (it will be). We hoped like nothing else that the deer would be moving.

So, I took Matt’s climbing stand back to that watering hole I mentioned. Never again. First off, I saw one guy dawdling his way up the road. I think he was trying to move quietly and not spook the deer, but at 2 in the afternoon, he would have been better off moving more quickly and trying to keep the noise down than dragging out his noise-making. There’s leaves all over, and if they aren’t dry, they’re frozen. Crunchy either way. Second off- I didn’t have a great grasp on how to use a climber. Getting it around the tree was difficult and noisy. Then, I nearly fell to severe injury not once, but three times. It just sort of slid a few inches each time, sending a jolt of adrenaline through my entire body and giving me a tiny heart attack each time. At least I was only about 8 feet off the ground.

Snowy woods and the watering hole

Snowy woods and the watering hole

I clunked around and made so much noise that I doubt I’d have seen anything anyway. To top it off, that particular stand doesn’t bolt together or anything to pack it out- I didn’t tie up the straps or something, and it slid apart. And smacked against the backs of my legs so much that I had to hunch forward and take baby steps out of the dark woods. Adding insult to injury was the guy walking out, while it was still light, smoking a cigarette.

Winter definitely peeked in on us a month early.

Winter definitely peeked in on us a month early.

Anyhow. I finally got the stupid tree stand out of the woods and to the truck. I’m never using it or any climber again. I’ll keep hunting on the ground, even. By the time I reached the truck, I was ready to cheerfully set it on fire and melt it into slag. So, I stuck it in the truck, and trudged back up the path to meet Matt. He’d not seen anything, but he had swapped out the SD card in a trail camera. When we got home, we checked it. And finally- a deer showed up.

Random deer butt one night

Random deer butt one night

And a little button buck at a different time.

And a little button buck at a different time. Edited to add that if you look at the right side of this picture, there’s another deer. I’d be willing to bet my favorite socks it’s a doe.

Not helpful that they’re near his stand location at dark. But with the height of the rut coming, maybe he’ll finally get lucky. Plus, once gun season starts, all the deer will be running around in a panic, so one might happen by his stand then, too. As for me, once we get back from the Ball this weekend, Matt promised to get me a set like his so I can sit in a tree, too. And I’ll hunt a south-facing hillside towards the back of the property. Maybe I’ll get lucky, too.

He’s even planning not to drink very much this Friday. Which, for anyone familiar with how USMC balls generally go, should be astounding. Last year, I had to push him down to the lobby on the luggage cart the next morning. He played a punching bag machine so hard he punched off his medals and bent the stack. The year before that, he crashed a random wedding at our hotel, and nearly ruined his dress blues with pizza. I had to tell him about all three the day after. So, he’ll be relatively coherent the next day just so we can hunt the peak rut. He’s that serious about it.

Good Thing Bow Season is 3 and a Half Months Long.

I went out by myself last night. I wasn’t really expecting too much, with how many people were out there over the weekend. Before I set up, I put up another trail camera on the game trail Matt hunted over the weekend. We’ll pick it up either at the end of this week or next week. There was one truck out there when I pulled up. I didn’t see any deer or turkey, but I did hear more rifle shots. One larger-caliber, and one smaller one like on Sunday. I even packed up with a bit of light left, and took a look into the two fields at the front of the property- nothing in them. I would guess that with all the foot traffic over the weekend, plus all the shooting, they’ve been pushed to the back of the property, or off it entirely.

This weekend, we’re heading up north for two days and a night. Matt’s hoping for turkey. That will have us at least giving the public land a break for a little bit. I’m hoping that once opening weekend is past, and the weather is cooling off a bit, we’ll see fewer people out there. Especially if we go to the back of the property. Nobody really likes hiking all the way up the hill. Matt pointed out that if we want to take any deer from that land this year, we need to do it before gun season with our bows, or on opening day of gun. They disappear pretty quickly after that.

Public Land Foibles, Part I

I posted a while ago about putting up our trail cams. Well, Saturday we were feeling antsy in advance of deer season and went and took them down to see what kind of footage we had. They’d been up for about two and a half, almost three, weeks.

I know I was really, really hoping to see an image of the big buck we’ve seen out there. This is what we had.

Only the one camera got any images. The other camera was probably too high up in the tree, and it burned through its batteries. Still, I’ll totally take images of does. They’re just as edible. And this is better than the images we got last year on a different land parcel.

We know there are deer out there, so this won’t hold us back. If anything, we still have a little over a week before bow season starts. And we can still scout around a bit before gun season in late November.

Trail Cams and a Failed Boating Trip.

Yesterday was supposed to be another one fishing. Matt decided to give the lower Wisconsin a shot, and we headed over to launch out of Mazomanie. The land we hunt is on the way, so we also stopped put up our trailcams. Yes, we’re late to that party, but it’s public land, and we’d rather they didn’t get stolen. Plus summer just really got away from us.

This tree would even be pretty decent to hunt out of.

This tree would even be pretty decent to hunt out of.

DSCF0002

We did a bit of light scouting while we were out there, but it’s been pretty dry and the ground’s hard. I did find one turkey breast feather in the same field where I scared out the jake and the tom, and where we think they roost. There was also turkey poo, and some of the only deer tracks we saw. We didn’t make it to the back fields, and we both agree to get a better idea of what happens in the front of the property for the very late season. Trudging a half mile or so in knee deep snow is pretty tough.

As we drove through the Mazomanie Bottoms state natural area to the Boat Launch of Doom.

As we drove through the Mazomanie Bottoms state natural area to the Boat Launch of Doom.

In fact, putting up the trail cams was the only positive from yesterday. With how shallow that part of the river was, we ended up breaking a shear pin on the lower part of the outboard on some rocks (though luckily nothing more serious). The current was too strong for the electric motors, so we carefully made our way back to the launch to attempt to shore fish. We didn’t catch anything but a bunch of snags and a rock that had a zebra mussel on it (I cracked that sucker open for bait). I gave up fishing before Matt did, and when he decided to go, I put a bottle of soda in my purse, only to discover the lid came off, soaking my bag in Coke.

I think it also slaughtered my poor camera, which has been with me since my study abroad in northern Germany in 2007. I’m going to tinker with it a bit to see if I can get it to work. That $100 I spent six years ago seemed like a lot to a broke-ass college student about to leave the country for the first time. Plus, I’m pretty attached to this thing. We’ve seen a lot together. Lüneburg, Lübeck, Hamburg, London, all over Chicago and my home area in Illinois, my college town, Sacramento, San Francisco, Phoenix, the mountains in Arizona, Pittsburgh, Madison, northern Wisconsin, two Marine Corps balls, a couple weddings, some family parties, and countless other small trips and events I’m sure I’m forgetting. If not, then I guess I’ve been kicking around replacing it for a while now.