Hunter’s Corner: Trail cams let hunters track their deer
One of the tools deer hunters are currently using before, during and after the hunt is the trail camera.
The key to a better trail camera is in the number of mega-pixels it has. From what I have learned, the magic number is eight. Eight or better makes for a good trail camera; less than eight is of questionable value. From what I have determined, there are currently 13 or more different makers of trail cams. The rating scores to consider are easy set-up, usability, features, value for your money and meets expectations. One of the benefits of doing the research is there seems to be a lack of correlation between user satisfaction and price.
Perhaps the main reason for the expansion of the use of trail cams is the deer hunters’ curiosity as to how many deer, primarily bucks, are frequenting an area where the hunter is hunting. If all the deer being caught on the trail cam are does, then it is time to change locations. If a number of bucks are being caught on the cam, then this can be the starting point.
Bucks travel in a routine route, not always crossing the same point at the same time. Most of the bucks caught on cam are caught at night. So how do you convince a buck to alter his travel route to visit a particular spot in the day? You set up a faux scrape and place a scent dripper above it. There is a membrane in the scent dripper that drips only during daylight hours.
I know of one group that was getting excellent pictures of bucks at night, but for the life of them they could not find where they were bedding down in the daytime. Every night these wily bucks would frequent the same fields and every day they would fade away like ghosts.
The use of trail cams is becoming more popular and will give the deer hunter a slight edge, but there is no certainty in deer hunting. The more information you can gather about what deer are in your area, and then attempting to pattern their movements, the greater the opportunity for hunting success.
There is another deer hunting phenomena that is gaining in hunter acceptance and that is the use of crossbows. Initially, there was some resistance to the use of crossbows as there was a hint that there was something less than ethical about their use. Nothing could be further from the truth. The range of a crossbow is about the same as a compound bow; however, instead of shooting an arrow you are shooting a bolt. The noise of both is about the same.
A hunter skilled in the use of either crossbow or compound will achieve the same degree of accuracy. Two types of hunters are switching to crossbows. The first are archery hunters who, due to a physical reason, can no longer use a compound bow. They bring a doctor’s certificate to Fish and Game and they are allowed to use a crossbow. The second are rifle hunters who want the additional challenge of the crossbow they are not receiving with a rifle. The average distance a typical deer is taken is well within the range of a crossbow.
For most archery hunters, they will be sticking with their compounds. The Mathews compound – The Creed – explains why. The Creed weighs 3.85 pounds, has a draw weight of 50-70 pounds with an 80-percent let-off and an IBO rating of 328 foot pounds per second. My bow is a Mathews Solocam and I won’t be trading up, but I fully understand why others are.
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A new study from scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services raises concerns about the single greatest cause of human-caused mortality to birds and mammals, killing an estimated average of 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion mammals each year in the United States. According to the study, feral cats account for a significant portion of the deaths. In addition to lowering populations of species enjoyed by birdwatchers, cats can depress populations of other species such as ducks, rabbits and hares. To mitigate these effects, biologists in the prairies pothole region of the north-central U.S. post fences around duck nesting areas to exclude cats and other predators from killing the ducklings.
“Cats pose a threat to Vermont’s songbirds, such as robins, bluebirds and cardinals,” Vermont Fish & Wildlife bird biologist John Buck said. “Cats may even restrict the statewide recovery of some rare birds. The whip-poor-will, which is a state threatened species, can easily fall prey to roaming cats during their nesting season.”
“This is more of a pervasive problem for wildlife than many people realize,” Fish and Wildlife biologist Steve Parren said. “It was a wakeup call for my family when our friendly tabby delivered a still struggling baby bunny to our doorstep. We realized the potential consequences of allowing our cat to roam outdoors.”
“The lifespan of an indoor cat is roughly double that of an outdoor cat,” Stowe veterinarian Dr. Richard Levine said. “Infectious disease is almost non-existent in indoor cats, whereas outdoor cats are at risk for things like intestinal parasites, trauma from cars, and bites and scratches from other cats. Keeping an outdoor cat can increase the veterinary costs for pet owners by hundreds or even thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the animal.”
“When you allow your cat to wander freely in nature, your cat becomes a part of the food chain,” Parren added. “Sadly, many people’s pet falls prey themselves to larger predators such as coyotes, fishers and foxes.”
I checked in with New Hampshire Fish and Game to learn the status of feral cats in New Hampshire, only to be informed that they are considered domestic animals subject to the control of local animal control officers and not conservation officers. I don’t know what the ultimate solution is, but as long as there is an expanding feral cat population, wildlife and song birds are at risk and those who are supporting the expansion of the feral cat population are part of the problem and not part of the solution.
(Bob Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)