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Wednesday, 15 April 2015

In Praise of 'TrailCams'

Martin gives his thoughts on a piece of kit which allows him to make the most of the limited, and therefore very precious time, in the countryside.  

Enjoy
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One  deer season may be vastly different from the previous years, a significant change 
in habitat on the farm (felling, ditching or significant changes to crops), weather anomalies such as 
drought or extreme wet all contribute to changes in the behaviour of the deer I manage. These environmental changes can make it very hard to get a good idea of the number and whereabouts of in the limited time I have to dedicate to managing the deer. Rock hard ground for example either through frost or drought provides little in the way of slots to look at (deer tracks) and excessive rain washes away tracks much quicker. you just can't win. 

A season or two ago, my predominantly early morning outings were yielding less and less sightings 
and a corresponding reduction in meat reaching the freezer. Gathering information is difficult on a 
2,500 acre farm where the workers presence is fleeting and neighbours are few and far between. I 
do have the good fortune of exchanging data with a resident deer expert, who invariably has 
invaluable insight into the local deer populations and between his trail cams and ours, we were able 
to draw conclusions about deer population and activity patterns.

A trailcam can be placed at key locations and left in place for days, weeks or even longer. The images 
recorded are date and time stamped, so you can build up an accurate picture of what passed by and 
when. This means that you can use your precious time on the ground far more effectively and as in 
our case, shift early morning outings to evening outings. In our experience, images have been good 
enough to identify particularly good specimens but also priority animals for culling such as lame 
individuals. 



Away from the deer management application, there are a huge range of unexpected benefits, a bit 
like sitting in a high seat and seeing an amazing array of wildlife spectacles besides the one you 
expected! In a single deployment, we caught all three species of deer which are resident on ‘our 
patch’, Badgers, Fox,  Hare and Pheasant. A trailcam will get children into the fresh air and give them 
an appreciation of what’s going on around them, it will get them off of the couch and more 
importantly, off of face book! I think it’s a great tool, a fantastic family recreational resource and 
another great excuse for being out of doors. 



Bushnell have a great range of cameras and a trophycam community for you to share your pictures 
with, Little Acorn make some nice cameras and there are lesser known makes with varying 
specifications and capabilities at Maplin and of course E-Bay will always give you a wide range of 
options. 

A trail cam was a fantastic addition to our hunting equipment and has been a fascinating 
experience, I highly recommend a trailcam, so much better than shooting zombies on an X-Box (in my humble opinion). 

I have recently redeployed mine from the forest to our barn roof to capture images of a visiting barn owl for example. Later this week it will go into the chicken run to find out which visiting wildlife killed my chickens on Sunday night! 

Go ahead and try one, you won’t regret it.

MRG


**Note; all the videos in this post came from Richards youtube channel check it out, and for more excellent wildlife photography have a look at his Flickr**

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