Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Camera Trapping over Thanksgiving Break: Part I


As student, one of the best times of the semester is a holiday break. I love school in general- awesome faculty and staff, classes are interesting, have great friends...but this semester is burning me at both ends. So today, day #1 of Thanksgiving break, finds me on the couch watching trash daytime TV, and loving it. I do have some baking and pre-holiday shopping to do, but that can wait.

One of my favorite newest hobbies is camera trapping or using game/trail cameras. It's a great passive hobby, because you literally can just "set it and forget it", not to spin off an 'As Seen On TV' gimick. But that's literally all you do! The longer you 'forget' your camera in the field, the more exciting the results. I typically check my cameras every week, and that's just because I literally can not wait to see what wildlife has walked in front of my camera.

I personally own one camera, a Moultrie Game D-50 Digital Trail Camera Flash (under $100). This was a gift last Christmas, and although a great first camera for a novice, I've learned alot about these cameras in the past year, and it's not my favorite. The conservation department at FLCC has a collection of cameras that I have access to using, and their brand is the Cuddeback. They have both the Capture (Flash and IR), and newest model, the Attack (IR). I've used the Capture model extensively and enjoy it because it's easy to use, yields great pictures, and is cheap (under $200). The newest model the school has purchased through a National Science Foundation grant, is the Attack IR. This is a very similar model to the Capture, the only first-glance, noticeable differences are the mode of mount, and that it is capable of interchangeably taking video and still images. With many other models, it's only one or the other, although my Moultrie does this as well, but the quality is VERY poor compared to the Attack.

ANYWAY, the point of this post is not to review cameras. For this week I have my Moultrie (Flash), Capture (Flash), and one Attack (IR) to play with. The first two cameras are set at FLCC's East Hill Campus in Naples. I intern there weekly, and know the property well. I was there yesterday, and set the cameras.

Cuddeback Capture Flash, complete with camouflaging bird poop.

Moultrie Game Spy Flash

I have the third camera, Attack, which I plan on setting when I go to my Aunt and Uncle's house in Baldwinsville later this week, just overnight. My Uncle Mark is an outdoorsmen, and I'm sure will be interested to play with the camera. They have quite alot of land behind their house, and hopefully will be able to get something cool

Cuddeback Attack IR

To heighten my chances of "capturing" or "trapping" wildlife on the cameras, I recently purchased several scent lures from Kishels Scents. I use a lure for weasel, carnivores (fox, coyote), and an acorn oil intended for deer and bear.

Weasel lure: On a scale of 1-10 of stinkiness, I'd give it a 7.
Acorn oil: Sweet smelling, similar to maple syrup.
Crossbreed: VILE odor. 11 on a scale of 1-10. Lingers if you get it on you (which I always do.)

So far, I've not had MUCH luck. On my Moultrie, in one session of the camera being out for 2 weeks, I lured in striped skunk, opossum, gray squirrel, white-tail, and raccoon. This was the most successful session I've had yet with that Moultrie, I was impressed. Unfortunately, due to technical, aka: user diffifculty, I lost the pictures and video before I could save them.

But I feel like I'm wasting the lures, literally just dumping them on the ground. At $5.50/oz I want to maximize the lures. Should I be mixing the scent with something? I've heard the use of petroleum jelly to help it 'stick'. Due to Murphy's Law, it seems like within 24 hours of me setting the cameras, it pours or snows. Anyone have any advice out there?

Next week, I will post my results, if any. Here's to hoping!

In the mean time, here is a picture caught on a Capture at the East Hill Campus last year.


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