Saturday, October 26, 2013

Latest from the Big Woods – and the last for this year


The early hunting seasons have begun, so it was time to bring in the last of my camera traps from the Big Woods – a commercial trail camera that takes color photos during the day and infra-red photos at night. It’s been in place for a month, ever since I brought in the “homebrewed” camera trap that had been on a nearby tree. Unfortunately, the infra-red flash takes about a second to produce enough light to give proper exposure. That results in a lot of very blurry pictures – so blurred that sometimes it’s impossible to identify the animal.
But, now that the rut is beginning the older white-tail bucks with large-antlers are showing up again. The camera at this spot hadn’t gotten a picture of a buck with large antlers since June 19. Now that the older bucks have appeared only one young buck with small antlers has shown up in the pictures the other young bucks have probably been driven off by the mature bucks.
The smallest set of antlers captured on camera in the last month were on this deer –
His antlers look like those on this buck that was camera-trapped in September
but a close look shows that it’s not the same deer –
Next in size was this relatively young 9-point, notice how thin his antlers are –

Those antlers pale in comparison to the antlers worn by this buck: the thickness of his antlers shows that this is an older deer than the 9-point –
To my eye the most impressive buck the camera trap caught in the last month is this one: his antlers aren’t the thickest; with eight points, he doesn't have the most tines; his antlers don't have the widest spread. But the length of the tines, especially the brow tines, is really imposing –
The best photo taken in daylight by the camera trap last month was of a black bear –
There were no photographs of any bucks taken during the month in daylight. Similarly, there were photos of impressive bucks taken at the same location late last winter after all hunting seasons had ended – also all at night. But then, they didn’t get to be old enough to grow a large set of antlers by wandering around when hunters are in the woods.
Where do they go? Well, there are large areas with really dense patches of chest-high shrubs as well as steep, extremely rocky hillsides throughout the Big Woods; both of those conditions make walking difficult and unpleasant for humans – take it from one who knows. A buck that’s either lucky enough, or has learned to stay in those areas during hunting season has a good chance to live to see another day – and being active primarily at night helps too.  
Those of us who hunt with a gun may be frustrated by those big bucks, but those of us who hunt with a camera are glad that those bucks have the ability to survive.

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