Monday, February 6, 2012

Today was the day: camera trap deployment!

I've written several entries about my opportunity to participate in a Biological Research Methods independent study.

LONG STORY SHORT: It was being offered as a science elective, wasn't advertised, not enough students enrolled, course was cancelled, I begged and pleaded to be allowed to study independently, granted that opportunity, asked for National Science Foundation (NSF) Community College Undergrad Research Initiative (CCURI) money for supplies- got it...and I am. Reality!

I've been agonizing about my experimental design, what my question is, how I'm actually doing all of this...and what I want to get out of my 12 week independent study using camera traps and scent lures. Today I sucked it up, decided and went forth with my journey!

I'll walk you through my day today!

I arrived at the field station around 8:40am this beautiful February day. I met Nadia, the field station's environmental education coordinator (who has been a HUGE advocate on my behalf, and has been interested in what I'm up to at the field station). Thank God she came today, or else I'd still probably be out on the trail wondering how to pace off my camera locations.

We gathered materials, discussed my methods and protocol. I took the time to photograph everything, because...I knew this blog was coming. And I may need/want the pictures in the future for a presentation!

I also started my journaling, as I've learned it's extremely beneficial to write EVERYthing down, no matter how insignificant the detail may seem at the time. Very helpful to see what was going on at the time. I'm sure there are details from this morning I couldn't recall without the help of my field journal!

The troops. Standing at attention!

And the sentinels...ready to bring in the crowd :)

Other important members of the show: a GPS, rubber gloves, and scent pads!

Things to keep in mind as you walk along the trail with me:

-Nadia and I attempted to figure out how to pace out the distances I needed between cameras. I had 2640 feet (1/2 mile) in a relatively straight line to set my cameras. When we left the starting point, I had 5 cameras to deploy (one broke, I'll explain later). So to equidistance the cameras, they needed to be ~528ft apart. We assumed our paces were ~2ft. So, we needed 264 paces. We only were able to pace off 4 times before we hit the end point. Luckily/coincidentally the camera was unusable, so it's a moot point!

-At each site, I gave myself ~10ft of buffer to find a suitable hanging spot.

-I only used naturally occuring growth to hang cameras, as opposed to using a T-post.

-I took a waypoint at each site using the GPS unit I had.

-I used a scent pad at each site, and coated both sides of it with appropriate scent.

-I found a thin, pencil-width, stick and stuck it within 10ft of the camera, in the line of vision to clip the scent pad to.

-I used fresh gloves each time I deployed a scent to try and minimize scent contamination.


Setting the first camera trap: Site 1

Preparing the scent lure: 'Gusto'- STINKY, long-distance call, targeting carnivores, meant to be placed high and let the wind do the work. Last week I experimented, set it ~1ft off the ground and brought in a variety of critters. See previous entry.

Clipping the scent pad to a stick I placed in front of the camera.

And the final set up!


Preparing scent for Site 2: 'Num-Chuck'- Smells like ground up vegetation, kind of grassy but with a little rotten fruit/vegetable in there as well. Not a putrid smell!

Site 2


Scent for Site 3: 'Beaver Lure'- Ground up castor gland. Indescribable. Next time you're out hiking or paddling near/in a wetland, look for a beaver scent mound (small mud pile near waters edge), sniff that. Or attend a fur auction and ask to smell some castor. This is ACTUALLY from a real animal. Often the castor gland is worth more than the pelt! Very useful in luring in the beaver!

Site 3.


Preparing scent for Site 4: 'Toxi-Dog'- Vile. Putrid. Yet, totally different than 'Gusto'. It's target species are the Canids. Let us see how it works!

Site 4.


*You may have noticed that I only set 4 cameras, when I have 5. The fifth camera became broken somehow. The knob inside the cover was extremely wiggly and when we turned it to different functions, it would not list what we turned it to. AND the darn camera wouldn't shut off when switched to off. SO, it needs to be sent back to Cuddeback.

So that's it! I set them and now will put them out of my mind until next Monday! It's like Christmas morning for me when I'm checking my cameras, anticipating that huge buck, or a secretive weasel, or a ... the best gift of all a sow black bear with cubs! We shall see how the next 12 weeks unfurl. Cross your fingers for me :)

How beautiful of a day is this? The recorded high while I was out this morning: 37* F!!!


  1. Let the games begin. Can't wait to see what shows up to your sets.

  2. I can't wait to see what happened to them, lots of things, I hope.


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