July 24, 2008

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

Iím thinking about pitching a television show idea to the Outdoor Channel. How about Candid Camera in the Trees, or maybe Sportsmanís Hidden Videos.

Actually I donít put out my trail cameras each summer in an effort to embarrass the wildlife. Iím hoping to view some of the areaís bigger bucks in an effort to learn travel patterns and other secrets that may aid me during hunting season. Still I must admit I have captured just as many humorous photos of animals.

For every 10-point buck my Moultrie Outfitter Cam photographs, it produces an equal number of exposures of raccoons wrestling, turkeys toppling from trees, or rabbits doing, well what rabbits are best known for. Still deer often are the stars of the show, even if it isnít for the right reason.

It doesnít take much to make a deer look amusing in a trail camera shot. Typically the photo is taken after dark, meaning the flash is required. For whatever reason, flashbulbs and deer eyes donít go together. Iíd say 75-percent of such photographs produce space alien like optics on the poor animals. They end up looking as if they have a couple light bulbs in place of their eyes.

Add to the flash eyes the fact that the deer in my photo shoots are often posing at the mineral lick, you can add a mud mustache and dirt beard to their portraits as they lift their heads from feeding just in time to get a driverís license-like picture taken.

But deer donít need to wear such costumes to make the images memorable.

Some apparently want to star in more romantic roles, as they get up close and personal with the camera. Once the lens gets un-fogged the camera can get back to work.

Some of my favorite images involve deer interaction. I get quite a kick out of capturing a pair of bucks sparring. I have a couple that make the viewer question ďWhat was he thinkingĒ as you see a tooth-pick sized rack on top of a young buck preparing for a head-to-head collision with a much more defined head piece of an older male. Brings to mind those young bull, old bull jokes.

But itís not just the boys that settle things with their fists, or hooves as it is in this photo. Seems like the ladies too can let the heat of the day get their blood boiling enough to duke it in a little cat fight. Now what kind of mom acts that way in front of her kid?

You see pictures like that, or those of that huge buck that your neighbor starts teasing you with in your e-mail in box about this time every year, are enough to convince a landowner to start his own video security company.

I know my own efforts in hunting surveillance have expanded from that single old 35mm black and white film trail camera to a fleet of digital machines that basically has made me a stockholder in Moultrie, and the rechargeable battery company not to mention the SD video card manufacturer.

Before itís all said and done we may have more video coverage of the woods than Homeland Security has at our nationís biggest airports.

Trust me, Iím already working on creating my Americaís Most Wanted posters for the archery season that is growing closer and closer.

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