Thursday, July 24, 2014

DIY Trail Camera Safety/Bear Box

Two DIY Trail Camera Box's
One main reason for DIY (Do It Yourself) projects is to save a little cash.  This projects was a great one for me for exactly that reason, but sadly I can't claim that the idea was my own...  I have to give the credit to my buddy Destry who showed me this DIY project as well as let me share it on my blog.

**Disclaimer - This DIY project may not be a cheaper rout for you if you don't have an electrician as a friend or family member who can get the supplies at a low price. 

Trail cameras are a great took for scouting as I made mention in one of my posts last month.  The price and importance of these cameras usually isn't cheap so protecting them is one task many of us don't skip out on. Purchasing a "Bear Box" or "Security Box" for your trail camera can be expensive especially if you add it to price you've already paid for the camera, batteries, and a memory card to go in it!  So saving a few buck still may not make your spouse less mad at you for spending that much money, but at least you can tell them that you tried to save every penny you could.

So here is what you need: Electrical enclosure, metal drill bit, jigsaw (or saws-all), and spray paint. 

DIY Trail Camera Box
What I would encourage you to do is shop around at Home Depot, Lowe's , or any electrical wholesale store and find the cheapest price for a box that best fits your camera.  If you have a friend or family member who is an electrician (like my friend Destry) have him see if he can pick one up for a cheaper price.

After finding the best size electrical box, I would suggest finding a way to snug up your camera to keep it from sliding around if the box is not a perfect fit.  The trail camera I used for this project is the Wild Game Innovation's Lights-Out camera.  I just had some old packing foam laying around the house from some packages I had received so I cut a few pieces to make my camera nice and snug.
DIY Trail Camera Box
DIY Trail Camera Box
DIY Trail Camera Box
DIY Trail Camera Box

Once your camera is secure, mark out where your camera sensor and lens are so that you can make the appropriate cut in the outside lid.  With the WGI Lights-Out camera the sensor and lens are in a very odd spot and are perfect circles so I was able to cut a whole just using a drill bit (once again thanks to an electrician) which was the perfect size.  If your cut is not that easy, I would suggest using a jigsaw with a metal blade or even a saws-all.  I would suggest cutting just slightly larger than the lens and/or the sensor just to make sure that the metal box is not interfering with the functionality of the camera.

DIY Trail Camera Box
DIY Trail Camera Box

After cutting the appropriate openings, the bear box is now your canvas to decorate any way you want.  With mine we just did a quick spray paint with a few colors to help it blend into the pine trees that we would be putting it on.  Another suggestion for decking out your new box is to gather sticks, leaves, and even bark from the area you are placing your camera and then cover the box with adhesive and sprinkle on the items you gathered.  Once you let those items harden onto your new bear box, a quick spay with a product like Mod Podge can set the elements more secure so that your trail camera box is now decked out with natures goodness!  In this process, just be sure that the opening you made for your camera are clear of debris. 
DIY Trail Camera Box

The last and final step is to get your trail camera in the box and into the mountains to see if your DIY project works!  Like I stated earlier, this DIY is fun and may be less expensive than buying one online but do your research, if you can find a box to fit your camera for cheaper than this project won't do anything except you grow more facial hair and give you the right to carry your man card with pride!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Rules Were Made To Be Broken?

As many of you man have heard, Idaho Department of Fish and Game has recently made the decision to lower the hunting age of 12 years old down to 10 years old.  As great as that is for many reasons, this policy does not come into effect until July 1st 2014... SOOOOO  The Idaho Department of Fish and Game indicated that for this year's controlled hunts those new hunters that would become eligible to hunt this next fall after the new policy could NOT apply for controlled hunts until AFTER July 1st 2014, but they could put in after July 1st for the second chance drawings....

Unfortunately, Over 2000 underage applicants were able to apply for controlled hunts even though the policy stated that they were ineligible .  Once this year's draw results were out, IDFG allotted over 1000 tags illegally to these ineligible underage applicants.  By doing this IDFG not only significanlty lowered the odds for legal applicants to draw on controlled hunts but also gave unfair treatment and preference to some 9 and 11 year old hunters than the other 9 and 11 year old hunters did not receive because they followed the law/policy.  The biggest issue with this is that the IDFG has sent a strong and loud message to these hunters and their families that fish and game laws are not important enough to enforce of follow!

I myself won't deny that I am a little jealous that I have been putting in for a big bull elk tag for 16 years now with no avail while a ineligible 9 year old hunters is allotted the tag I have earnestly and patiently desired for the past 16 years... The bigger issue to me is the future of hunting! I have heard people say that these 1000+ youth who were allotted tags need to keep their tags to keep their interest and desire to hunt at such a young age... What about those other 9 and 11 year old hunters who followed the law yet get to watch or hear about some other 9 or 11 year old go out and hunt while they stay at home... If we are sincerely desiring our youth to gain a passion and interest in hunting, shouldn't we start by teaching them about the laws of the land and how important it is to follow these laws and rules no matter what!  I am extremely disappointed in the IDFG who have shown these hunters and their families that rules and policies are not important enough to enforce or follow.  I am also disappointed in these families who tool their 9 or 11 year old and knowledgeably allowed them to illegally put in for a controlled hunt and sent a message to their youth that it was okay to go against what the law stated.  What type of hunting culture is this creating? What kind of message are we sending to the youth (and adults) in this state about the Department of Fish and Game? IDFG made a statement this week that they would allow these underage applicants to keep their illegally allotted tags but then recently stated that they would reconsider the issue and make a statement next week concerning the matter.

What is your opinion?
Should the Department of Fish and Game allow these youth to keep their tags?
Should the Department withdraw these tags (individual and group applicants) and refund the money?

If they withdraw the tags:

Should the Department allow all 10 and 11 year old youth to apply and draw again?
Should the Department draw all remaining tags with the unsuccessful legal applicants?
Should they withdraw the tags and allow all the 2nd choice applicants to have a chance at the tags?
Should they just withdraw the tags and go forward without allotting these 1000+ tags to other hunters?

Or do you have another solution or opinion?
What if it was you.... what if it was your child?... what if you had been putting in for 16 years and never drawn?... :)


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Scouting VS Invading

Scouting for elk!
I always have mixed feelings about this time of year as the draw results start rolling in and many hunters like myself begin to plan for next year's hunting season.  The reason I have the mixed feelings is because I am excited about getting back into the mountains and patterning the animals I am pursuing, yet at the same time, I know there are many other hunters who will also be "scouting" in my areas as well. 

Before I go on I do what to define what scouting is...  According to the Webster's dictionary, the verb scout means, "to spy on or explore an area carefully in order to obtain information."  When you Google for antonyms (opposite) of the word scout, you find words such as, "neglect, ignore, find, and overlook."  When scouting an area for hunting I want to stress the definition of scouting as the act of spying or exploring CAREFULLY to obtain information (emphasis on carefully).  So in other words, scouting is spying on an area carefully without neglecting or finding, as an attempt to obtain information.  I can already tell I have lost a lot of you through my boring English lesson on what scouting really is.... So now I will explain what I mean!

Effective scouting is when you are able to explore an area thoroughly to the point of discovering the animal you are pursuing without that animal knowing you found them!  To do this, it takes a combination of many things including time, effort, tools, and skills.  Especially if the area you are scouting is a new area, some of your efforts may be trial and error so don't get frustrated if you happen to be discovered.

Time - Scouting is not something that you can do casually and do it effectively.  Just like anything in life, if you want to be good at something you need to practice it.  As many of you know, a successful hunter must spend much more time scouting than they do hunting! This time scouting will be well appreciated when it comes time for your hunt to start.  Many of the posts online about scouting tell you that the best time to scout is a few weeks before your hunt opens... As this information is true and accurate, what it fails to suggest is that you get familiar with the area much earlier than that so that you can observe the animals from many different locations without spooking them.  Some things to look for while scouting early spring and mid summer are access points and glassing spots.  These two items will help avoid spooking the animals once they begin to settle into their patterns closer to hunting season.  The more time you spend in your area without spooking the animals, the better chance you will have of closing the distance on the trophy you are after.

One of my glassing areas to watch for elk!
Effort - This is a factor in scouting that much like other aspects of life can't always be measured accurately.  Effort is shown by not just going through the motions, but by doing so with the proper skill and technique to not let your presence be known.  This effort is to get as much done in one day as you can to avoid having to disrupt your hunting area multiple times.  An example of this is setting up a tree stand or ground blind. If you go back two, three, or even four times to get everything just right then the animals are more aware of your disruption than if you had just gone in and finished everything in one day.  Like I said earlier though this is one of those areas that is not always easily measured, so if this is not possible for the area you hunt, you are the one who knows if you are making the right effort to do what is necessary.  Another sign of making appropriate effort in scouting is to not disturb the natural pattern of the animal you are after.  In one area I hunt, I have packed in mineral licks, salt blocks, apples, and other items that get the deer visiting the area often and staying there.  Here in Idaho, it is illegal to hunt over a salt block or other items that may be considered baiting in the animal so I do this prior to the season starting which allows for many of the natural food sources in the area to be used during the season.  This is just one example of effort I put into my scouting that has helped me year after year. 

Tools - When considering tools that will help you while scouting, the first one I would suggest would be glass!  A good pair of binoculars and a spotting scope that you can spend a lot of time looking through are some of the most important scouting tools you can own.  As expensive as a good pair of binoculars or a spotting scope may be, I would suggest checking out Hawke Optics to get quality optics at an affordable price.  Optics will allow you to look around your area without having to step foot on every square inch of it.  Sitting at glassing points and spending adequate time (here is the time factor again) glassing for sign or game is one of the most, if not the most important part of scouting!  One recent tool I became familiar with which has already helped me a lot this year during the off season is OnXMaps!  This mobile app allows me to scout out different areas while sitting at home on my computer as well as find out who may own the private property I am wanting to hunt on.  This tool will not only help me scout and plan for the upcoming year but also keep track of the sign I find while scouting using their GPS technology! Some of the other tools that can be used for scouting are trail cameras. When placed properly, the trail camera can do a lot of your scouting for you.  A few things to remember about trail cameras is that you don't want it to be something that will spook an animal out of a spot or travel route. When possible, keep your trail camera out of direct eye sight of the animal you are after.  Try to place your camera higher in a tree than in direct eye sight of your animal or even hidden back off a trail.
My bad example of poor trail camera placement! haha
Skills - This area of scouting is putting everything together into a complete package.  As all of us know, when it comes to mother nature, things don't always go as planned.  The skill of effective scouting is knowing when you made a mistake and figuring out how to fix it.  Researching hunting strategies and techniques are good ways to acquire new skills but just like any real life skill, you must practice it to get good at it! It is also important to know that every area is not the same and that what works for some hunters may not work for others... The skills in scouting is knowing your area and prey well enough before the hunt to give yourself the advantage during the hunt!  While growing up hunting, I have become a believer that some people were just born with innate hunting skills while others acquire them through much trial and error.  I won't tell you what side of the spectrum I am on... haha

In conclusion it is simple really but easier said then done...  To effectively scout you will do everything and anything to make sure your presence is not known by the animal you are after while still getting the upper hand and knowledge you are after.  A combination of time, effort, tools, and skills is necessary to scout effectively.  If any of these four factors are missing, then the scouting trip may be as unsuccessful as some of your hunting seasons have been :) and I'm speaking of first hand knowledge right there! haha