TRAIL CAMERAS MAKE SCOUTING EASY" by Luke Clayton Luke Clayton When it comes to hunting, I am self confessed old school or, I was old school before I discovered the use of trail cameras! As a young hunter, I was mentored by several seasoned woodsmen that could glance at a track, buck scrape, rub or how wallow and determine a great deal about the animal that left it. These skills have been very helpful to me through the years and to a degree, they still are but the use of trail cameras has revolutionized the way I scout for game these days. A track or fresh rub is positive evidence an buck was there recently but even they best woodsman has no way of knowing exactly when. With a trail camera, the hunter is supplied with a picture of the animal and the exact time the picture was taken. Ive seen trail cameras in use on ranches where I hunt for several years but somehow always dismissed them as unnecessary technology that I didnt wish to worry with. After all, I was in the woods to hunt, not download images from a card in a camera! Id watch ranch managers and guides remove the card from their cameras, take the card to a laptop and review the passing of game at their stand locations. Granted, this system defiantly serves its purpose, the end product is an image of the game that walked down the trail and the time it passed by. I simply didnt wish to pack my laptop along on hunting trips and definitely didnt want to wait until I got back home to review the information. I needed to know what was happening around the stand I was hunting immediately, so I could plan my hunt. Photo by Luke Clayton I must admit that I recently became a convert to the new technology. While visiting with Perry Elsemore with Predator Trail Cams (www.predatortrailcams.com), I learned that with his Predator Trail Cams, there was no need to remove a card or flash stick from the camera and take it back to a computer for reviewing images. The trail camera has an onboard screen and a touch pad that allows one to review all the images right there in the woods. The trail cam takes short video or still images and setting the cameras is as easy as pushing the screen. I hunt and fish on a few hundred acres situated a mile from my house and through the years have learned the trail used by deer and wild hogs well. I have watched their comings and goings and have a good idea of the number and size of animals by reading the sign they leave. For the past week or so, Ive had my Predator Trail Camera setting on a well used game trail and can truthfully say, Ive learned more about the game on the place in the past few days than the previous years Ive hunted here! Ive been on a quest for some fresh wild pork and after reviewing the images on the trail cam, its obvious that there is absolutely no need in hunting during daylight hours. The previous three nights, there have been a total of 12 different hogs hitting my corn feeder between the hours of 7 and 8:30 pm. I have a Feedlight (www.ultramaticfeeders.com) attatched to a tree overlooking the feeder and the until gives just enough light to illuminate the area around the feeder for night hunting. A solar panel keeps the battery charged, making it a trouble free, dependable source of light that comes on every evening when the sun sets. This artificial light is not necessary for the Predator Trail Camera to operate, the unit has an infra red detection system and takes pictures without artificial light. The added light source is so that I can see the crosshairs on my rifle scope. I have a ground blind situated about 40 yards from the feeder and am making plans to fill my freezer, and the freezers of several friends, with fresh pork. I plan to cure some hams and bacon and reserve plenty for upcoming cook outs. I recently put some Christmas gift cards to Bass Pro Shops to good use and ordered a first generation night vision scope which I am told will serve my purpose well for shooting at night at ranges of 60 yards or less, even farther with a full moon. When the ATN Aries Night Vision scope arrives, I will mount it on my 22 Hornet rifle, sight it in and, after checking my trail camera a couple days, get in my stand about thirty minutes before I expect the hogs to show up. You might say I have a plan and thanks to modern technology, the plan doesnt require setting in the cold winter woods all night wondering when the hogs will show up. I will have a very good idea of when to expect to hear brush breaking in the still woods as the hogs use their well traveled trail. I think I will even hang my block and tackle from a nearby oak limb to hang the hog for the night. I can always go back in the morning and quarter him up and pack the meat out AFTER I get a good nights sleep! OUTDOOR TIP OF THE WEEK- Many hunting seasons are closed but preserve hunts for upland birds is a great way to enjoy a day afield, watch some good bird dogs work and leave with the makings of many tasty meals. Heres a couple of great destinations that offer everything from half day hunts to hunts including meals and overnight lodging, Ive hunted both places and they come highly recommended. Near Lake Fork, at Yantis, Billy Burnett offers great upland hunts at Hidden Lakes Hunting Resort (www.hiddenlakeshuntingresort.com 903-714-7574. Near Whitney, my friends at the W.B. Ranch offer excellent lodging, meals and upland bird hunting. Visit their website at www.wbranch.com or call 800-WBRANCH. DUCK HUNTING UPDATE- Guide Cory Vinson with Guaranteed Guide Service (www.nofishnocharge.com) offers guided duck hunts including lodging and meals near Cedar Creek. Cory says the recent blast of cold air pushed large numbers of mallards, gadwall and widgeon into the area. Hes expecting the remainder of the season to provide excellent hunting. For more information, contact Vinson at 469-867-4299. Vinson reports the redfish bite at Lake Fairfield has been excellent with lots of action on redfish in the 20-22 inch range with occasional bigger fish in the 20 pound class. An added bonus to these trips is a cooler full of good eating tilapia. Vinson says a couple throws of the cast net usually results in enough tilapia for a big fish fry. Want even more of Luke's hunting/fishing tips and tricks, wild game recipes etc? Listen to Outdoors With Luke Clayton for a new show each week at www.catfishradio.com Contact Luke at email@example.com The BOC has a virtual library of Luke's stories right here on the forums; just about anything you could want to read about the outdoors. Click here to see a boat load of information!