Trail cameras out

A couple weeks late due to a vacation, this week I started setting out my trail cameras. You may ask why so early. Simple answer, I want all of the information that can be gathered. That, and running trail cameras is entertaining. It is kind of like hunting deer without having to drag them out of the woods.

This year there is another good reason for getting trail cams out in August. This year I am adding more trail cams. Scouting for places to set up the trail cams is time consuming, especially when the trail cams are scattered over 74,000 acres on the Kinzua Quality Deer Cooperative.

Another obstacle I face is finding set-ups that are not too far from a road. This is simple practicality. Round trips to check trail cams has been taking about a day and a half. Moving up to 20 trail cams should require about two days. This is more than enough time to devote to checking trail cams.

While I am looking for set-ups where both bucks and does pass, most hunters will be concentrating on bucks. Looking for the most well worn trails generally is not the way to find bucks, at least not until late October.

Locating trails frequented by bucks, especially older bucks, can be difficult. They do not get as much traffic as doe trails, so they do not show as easily. Look for old scrape lines, or old rub lines. Look for what at first appear to be random, large deer tracks. Then try to find more, and try to string them into a trail. Sometimes you may only get a feeling that you have found a buck trail.

Bucks tend to favor specific travel routes, although none of the following are hard and fast rules. Bucks like to walk on old woods roads, and on overgrown roads through reverting clear-cuts. They like, apparently, to walk on narrow ridges, and along benches on steep hillsides.

The big giveaway, those huge tracks, give me great hope that a big buck is in the area. So far this year, there have been several huge tracks. Big feet to not necessarily mean big antlers, of course. Some bucks grow old because they never grow large racks.

Blueberries were just about shot by the time I got into the woods. Usually I bring home a few cups for Jeri’s cereal. Occasionally I make blackberry muffins, but I prefer blueberry muffins. One of these years I will get out early enough to pick raspberries.

As with any other time of the year, there is a lot more to getting into the woods than your primary purpose. Always there is time to explore and observe.

This week we had our Great 2017 Full Eclipse of the Sun. Yahoo.

Actually it was interesting, and since it happened in the sky we have a long human tradition of looking for some order to life in the stars. No doubt some crackpot will put something that happens soon after the full eclipse and claim the eclipse was a sign it was going to happen.

Jeri and I went to my favorite sky watching place, the picnic area at Hearts Content. There is reasonable cause to call it ‘Place Where Clouds Part’. And this is just what happened Monday. We had none of the special glasses for eclipse watching, and I had long ago rid my tool boxes of welding and cutting glass. So our plan was to watch and photograph the eclipse through the clouds. The problem was, we only got one short stretch of a few minutes of eclipse watching.

Fortunately they were good minutes. We got to see a good chunk of the sun hidden by the moon. And we eclipse bathed for a couple of hours.

I wish I had brought a thermometer to prove this. I felt a drop in temperature with the eclipse. And sunshine was not so bright.

Mast crops appear to be promising. Apples of several varieties, and in numerous locations, hang on the trees, if not in great numbers.

There is a beech tree on the shore of Chapman Dam that is usually loaded with nuts. It is again this year. This means little, since it may have more nuts than all of the beech trees on the Allegheny National Forest. But at least one beech tree has a good crop.

It is too soon to guess how good the acorn crop is. My guess from what has been seen so far, we will have an average to possibly above average acorn crop.