Wildlife: Trail cams valuable for wildlife ID

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If you've ever suspected there was a really big buck where you like to hunt, you probably wished you could monitor the area 24/7. But that's virtually impossible to do unless you use a trail cam.

Trail cams are motion-activated, weather-proof cameras that can be mounted on trees or posts to monitor wildlife activity. Hunters, birders and watchers will find trail cams equally useful. There's a real excitement to watching deer and other wildlife grow and mature through the year.

Most Octobers, for example, I find several obvious buck rubs in some sumac stands close to the house. I know white-tail bucks are responsible, but I see few bucks. I typically see eight to 10 does for every buck that ventures into the yard.

Deer routinely clean up the sunflower seeds that fall to the ground beneath my bird feeders, but it's always does and yearlings on cleanup duty.

So a few years ago, when a neighbor asked if he could set up a trail cam near the rubs, it sounded like a great idea. A few days after he set up the camera, he had images. There were no monster bucks, but at least I knew some bucks were hanging around the house.

If you're scouting areas for this year's deer season, you might consider using a trail cam. Within just a few days, you'll know whether or not it's worth investing time in a particular location. Simply strap the camera to a post or tree and point it toward a prominent buck rub or heavily used trail.

Among the features to consider when buying a trail cam:

• Image quality is a function of both the camera's megapixels and the quality of the lens.

• LED flash provides color images, but infrared image capture is less intrusive.

• Finally, time-lapse mode can be set to take images every few seconds, every few minutes, or even hourly. This feature is especially useful for large open fields.

Trail cams range in price from $100 to more than $300. For more information, search online for "trail cam information."

huntingfishing

Biologist, author and broadcaster Scott Shalaway can be heard 8 to 10 a.m. Saturdays on 1370 WVLY-AM (Wheeling) or at www.wvly.net. His website is www.drshalaway.com. Contact him at sshalaway@aol.com or 2222 Fish Ridge Road, Cameron, WV 26033. First Published October 19, 2013 8:00 PM


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