July 30, 2008
BuckTracker: Back In the Picture
By Scott Bestul
I’m messing with trail cameras again. There are, as we all know, folks who run a circuit of scouting cams like some men run trap lines. I’ll admit I’ve never been one of them, and I can’t really explain why. Laziness is my best guess. Cameras got big about a decade ago, and my wife and I had our hands full with newborn twins. Maybe I didn’t want to add one more thing to my already-heaping plate? I honestly can’t remember.
I know this much: I have never counted myself in the crowd that says cameras are unethical or, somehow, cheating. Snapping a buck’s picture is like finding one piece of a thousand-part puzzle, not a visual slam dunk that puts your tag on him. And as for a scout cam spooking a buck, I have no doubt of that possibility and, indeed, have seen it happen. But will that event blow him out of his core area? Doubtful, unless you place the thing in a sensitive area (for the buck, of course) and you’re running in there every other day and mucking about.
But for me there has never been any doubt that candid shots of whitetails are simply cool. So I decided to get a little more serious this summer about getting some. I read up on some tactics. Talked to some scout-cam freaks and took notes. And then I started sticking cameras out. I made a few dumb mistakes and corrected them. Took some neat photos of does, fawns and young bucks. And then, this week, the buck below. I nicknamed him Hollywood because he posed in front of my StealthCam six times and gave me multiple views of his antlers. Of course he’s no world-beater, but for my neighborhood he’s awful handsome. And know what? On a hot summer day, with bow season 49 long days away, it just makes me happy knowing he’s out there. Even if I never see him again…