Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Odd Antlers

I changed out a memory card on one of my homemade trail cameras that I have at my "Official Camera Test Site" today and got a couple pictures of a very interesting deer...

Here is a cropped, close up for a better view.

A couple things are strange about this picture. First of all are those CRAZY antlers. What is up with that?!?! Secondly, this buck is still carrying his antlers as of March 18th, which is pretty late in the ballgame. This should make for a very interesting conversation piece.

I'm trying to think of a good name for this deer. What do you think I should call him?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

More Shed Antlers and Some Colder Weather...

This morning, despite some windy, colder weather, my dad and I got up early and drove out to our hunting lease to try to look for some shed antlers. We haven't looked on this property yet this year, and we wanted to give it a try before the vegetation grows too tall to be able to spot them (and before it gets warm enough for the rattlesnakes to start moving). Temperatures have been in the 70's all week, but a cold snap moved in overnight bringing some snow flurries and temperatures in the low 30's. We gave it a valiant effort this morning, and I bet we walked every bit of five miles.

My dad found a small one on the edge of a wheat field right off the bat.

My dad ended up finding a total of 4, and I found 1, but all but the first one were old ones that have been on the ground since at least last year. We thought my dad might have found a matched set from an 8-point from last year, as he found two that were very similar in size and shape that were laying within 25 feet of each other. But after a closer look, I think the antlers were from two different deer.

I didn't have my good camera with me, so I was just taking pictures with my phone, and I stopped to snap these two shots of some of our Creator's handiwork while we were walking around through the woods.

The highlight of the day might have been the double-meat, double-cheese burgers we got for lunch at Herd's Hamburgers!

I also pulled a couple trail cameras that haven't been checked since the new year, so I had a good number of pictures to sort through. I got a picture of a really nice looking bobcat. Check out the markings on his coat and how heavily spotted he is.

I also got some hog pictures.

I was also really surprised to see that I had pictures of bucks still carrying their antlers as late as March 13th. I didn't have any pictures of bucks after that day so I'm not sure if they have even dropped them yet or not.

That may have been a contributing factor to why we only found one fresh one this morning...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Built Another Trail Camera

I've been working on another trail camera over the last several weeks and finished up the build a few days ago. This one is for a friend at church who happened to already own the specific model of Sony camera that I have been using for most of my trail cameras. Here are a few pictures of the finished camera:

Front view showing flash, camera lens, and motion sensor holes

Side view showing external toggle switch and pipe-thru security feature (for locking cable to go through to secure camera to tree or post)

Inside view of camera showing motion sensor control board, 9-volt battery, pipe-thru security feature, and Sony camera

Some features of this camera:
-Sony 4.1 megapixel digital camera with LCD screen to view pictures in the field
-Camera runs off two "AA" batteries while motion sensor runs off one 9-volt battery
-Mossy Oak waterproof case
-Pipe-thru security feature that allows a Python locking cable to run through the case to attach the camera to a tree or post for added theft prevention
-External toggle switch to activate/deactivate motion sensor to prevent unwanted pictures during set up or checking of the camera
-Two camera delay modes - trail setting or feeder setting
-Compact 6 1/2" x 4 1/2" case design that will fit in a coat pocket

I got another camera in the mail this week that I plan to begin work on soon that is a little bit newer model that takes higher resolution images. Hopefully I can get it into the field soon for some test shots. Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Dad Finds a Very Unique Shed

I was able to spend some time with my dad this afternoon looking for some sheds. Despite the drizzly, wet weather conditions, he and I, along with my friend Justin scoured the woods in search of fallen antlers. It was a good afternoon, and my dad found a shed that is by far the most unique I have ever seen. Instead of just finding one antler, he found a fresh set of antlers from this year that had completely grown together at the bases. When the deer shed it's antlers, they fell off his head as a single piece!

Isn't that the strangest thing you have ever seen! I'm gonna start calling that deer the "Monobrow Buck".

Great find, Daddy! I enjoyed the time we got to spend in the woods together.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

My Best Shed To-Date

I went to one of my favorite shed hunting spots this morning and found my biggest shed to-date! Unfortunately, it wasn't a fresh one from this year, as it looked like it had been exposed to the elements for quite some time - maybe even a couple years. But, the squirrels and rats hadn't chewed on it a bit so it was still in pretty decent shape.

(Note: This isn't how the antler was laying when I found it. It was actually kinda buried under some grass. I just thought this would make a better picture!)

When I got home I put the tape measure to it. It had 4 scorable points and I scored it at 63 5/8". Probably the most impressive measurement on this antler was the main beam length of 26 4/8". So, assuming this deer had a symmetrical antler on the opposite side and an approximate 18" spread, you're looking at a deer that will score between 145" - 150". That's not too shabby!

This year has allowed me to do more shed hunting than ever before and it is a blast. Although, the success rate at times reminds me of when I used to have a bass boat and would go bass fishing on some of the area lakes. You could fish all day long and sometimes only catch one fish. The same goes with shed hunting - sometimes you can look all day long and not find anything!

Today was a gorgeous day, and the temperature got up into the 60's. Spring is just around the corner, and things are beginning to bloom. I snapped a couple other nice pictures while out in the woods.

I also found another antler Friday evening but this one was a real small one. Here you can see how it compares to the one I found today.

If you haven't been shed hunting this year, get off the couch and take a stroll through the woods. You never know what you might find!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Does This Look Familiar?

Remember the 160"-class set of sheds my friend Justin found a couple weeks ago? Well, look what he found this week! This appears to be the same deer's right antler from this year.

Justin told me he found this one approximately a 1/2-mile from where he found the matching set. I guess there is a possibility this antler is from a different deer, but it sure does look similar. It has slightly less mass than the antler from last year but added a little bit in main-beam length. It also has a kicker point near the base that wasn't present last year. Here are some pictures comparing it to the matched set.

Is it possible that this deer might have reached his prime last year and is now on his way downhill, or could it just be that habitat conditions were better last year resulting in a better set of antlers? Or is this an antler from a different deer with very similar genetics? What do you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts.

Congratulations on another amazing find Justin!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I Get Misty . . .

. . .looking at this picture.

I was able to check one of my homemade game cameras again today and was surprised to see that this deer was still hanging on to his headbones. This is probably one of the biggest bucks I've ever gotten on a trail camera, and the moisture in the air when this picture was taken blurred the lens on the camera! Oh well, that happens.

If you can't tell by now, I'm a trail camera fanatic. I really enjoy building them and seeing the results when I check the memory cards. Getting pictures of these animals has always fascinated me, and honestly, getting an exceptional photo of a big buck would mean nearly as much to me as actually harvesting the animal. I take lots of factors into consideration when I place a camera in the woods in an effort to capture a really nice shot.

I did get a few this time that weren't blurry. This buck has already lost his antlers and has an interesting dark spot on the top of his back. (Don't forget you can click on the pictures to open them up and view them full-size.)

This one stopped for a close-up.

What will be in store the next time I pull the memory card? Hopefully a better picture of the big boy in the picture above! Stay tuned to find out.