Thursday, February 2nd, 2023
Thursday, February 2nd, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

By Dan Small

Contributing Editor

Right now is perhaps the best time to start scouting for next
deer season. There’s enough snow cover in most places to see and
follow tracks. There are fewer deer now than there will be in the
fall, so it’s easier to single out one deer’s tracks and territory.
And, if you’re a trophy hunter, you can get a jump on locating big
bucks, since any deer you would consider taking next fall is alive
today.

But, the days are short, your time is limited, and most deer
activity occurs at night.

Maybe it’s time to get into high-tech scouting with a camera
that can photograph deer when you’re not there. Some hunters are
doing just that, and they’re discovering some pretty amazing
things.

Ken Kaszuba and his hunting partner, Brett Gorzalski, have been
using a Deer Cam for three seasons now, and they’ve learned a lot
about deer numbers, movement patterns and behavior. Both of them
hunt several days a week from the early bow season through the late
bow season in heavily populated Waukesha and Washington counties.
Kaszuba, a sales rep for Hidden Wolf Woolens, a manufacturer of
wool hunting clothing, leases 80 acres of woods and agricultural
land that he manages for deer. The property has good natural
habitat, with a swamp, a pond, hardwoods, pines, and fields that
are planted in corn and clover. The corn is harvested in late fall,
and the clover is cut in August to encourage fresh growth just
before early bow season.

The hunters have taken several nice bucks off this and nearby
land and have seen many more. Some of these deer are “regulars”
that they have seen several times. Most, however, show up once and
are never seen again. Last fall, Gorzalski arrowed a heavy-beamed
buck that gross-scored 155. Neither the hunters, nor their camera,
had seen it before.

The hunters began using a Deer Cam to get a better idea of how
many bucks are using the areas they hunt. Their experience dispels
the widespread belief that, by the late bow season, there aren’t
enough bucks left to make it worth hunting.

“There are a lot more bucks out there, even after the season,
than most people think,” Gorzalski said. “We photographed at least
a dozen different bucks already this winter.”

They move the camera around to see which areas deer are using.
In winter, they set it mainly on trails, near food plots and in
bedding areas, but at other times they also set it up near rubs and
scrapes. Some say a camera takes the sport out of scouting, but
Gorzalski says it’s just another tool.

“You can’t scout 24 hours a day, every day of the year, but the
camera doesn’t care if it’s hot, cold, raining or snowing. It’s out
there giving you a better idea what’s going on in your woods,”
Gorzalski said.

The camera will sometimes run through a roll of film in one
night, photographing deer and other wildlife. Hunters who complain
that there are few deer, especially bucks, in the areas they hunt
might be surprised when they get their film developed.

“Using a camera after the season gives you a look at both the
mature bucks and younger bucks that didn’t get harvested,” Kaszuba
said. “They will all be bigger next year. You also see what you
have for mature does and yearlings.”

One big 10-pointer showed up for the first time late in the bow
season. “It was exciting to know that he was in the area, even
though we never got a shot at him,” Kaszuba said.

The hunters also noticed that some bucks they’d seen early in
the bow season disappeared for several weeks, only to show up again
after the season.

Some hunters fear the flash of a camera will scare away deer,
but Gorzalski says that doesn’t seem to be true, at least in
southeastern Wisconsin, where deer see car headlights and other
lights almost constantly at night. He even has photos of deer with
their noses practically on the lens.

“The same deer keep using the same trails, even after they’ve
had their picture taken several times,” he said.

Gorzalski shot a doe one afternoon in late December. He couldn’t
find it that night, so went back in the morning and found that
coyotes had eaten part of the carcass. He salvaged the deer, then
set up the Deer Cam on the gut pile and in the next few days
photographed not only coyotes, but also a buck and doe that came to
check out the entrails. The camera also got shots of crows and a
redtail hawk feeding during the day.

The Deer Cam consists of a heat and motion sensor and an Olympus
Infinity XB 35mm camera in a weatherproof, camouflaged housing. It
comes with a lanyard and a security cable to discourage thieves, a
must in populated areas. For details on the camera, visit
www.deercam.com.

A scouting camera won’t take all of the guesswork out of deer
hunting. Gorzalski has yet to pattern a buck with the camera and
then shoot it. Several years ago, however, he did arrow a buck
within several hundred yards of where another hunter photographed
it just the night before.

Using a scouting camera may not ensure that you bag the buck
you’re after, but at least you’ll know where he has been. “It’s
your eyes in the woods when you’re not there,” Gorzalski said.

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