Category Archives: Game Camera Moments

What is There When You Are Not, and a Great Way to Document the Things That Go Bump in the Night.

The Browning Dark Ops HD 10 MP Trail Camera. An important tool for any big game hunter, wildlife photographer, or property owner

The Legal Do’s And Don’ts Of Wireless Trail Cameras

Kyocera Brigadier Cell Phone

To Cell Or Not To Cell, That Is The Question. Photo By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

Use them, or not. Love them, or not. Game trail cameras have revolutionized the way hunter’s hunt. It didn’t take long.

They can be extremely effective in pinpointing and patterning game, and they can provide visual insights into your hunting area that are not possible through other means. The results are often eye-opening; the entire process can be fascinating, and fun. Proper use can greatly increase the odds of success.

All things considered, it would be safe to say that game trail cameras, in one form or another,  are here to stay.

The fairly recent advent of “Wireless” or “Live Action Cameras”, on the other hand, present an entirely new set of considerations, both practical, and ethical. It may take some serious contemplation to sort them all out.

Standard trail cameras collect and store images on a SD, or Secure Digital Card, which requires a periodic visit to the camera location to retrieve or download the images on the card.

Wireless technologies allow for the transmission of images from single or multiple cameras directly to a cell phone or computer in real time , without the necessity of a physical visit. It is also now possible to create a wireless mesh network consisting of multiple trail cameras, which can then transmit their images to a single SD card on a “Home Camera”. This allows a hunter to source all images from a single collection point, rather than visiting each camera location over an area of several square miles.

Ethical considerations aside, and tabling the issue of Drones, for now, Wireless Cameras can provide real “on the ground” benefits. Once installed, the system greatly reduces the number of intrusions into an animal’s home range, and perhaps most importantly, the disturbing presence of human sound, or scent.

Fish and Game regulations are unique to each state across the country, and each can choose to address, or not address, the issue of Standard and “Live Action” game cameras as they see fit. It does appear that some states have been slow to react, though, in some cases, it may be that available technology has moved so fast that the appropriate agencies have simply not had time to catch up.

Wherever you hunt, the first question you might wish to ask of those who know is: Are trail cameras, particularly “Camera to cell phone, or computer capable” cameras, legal? The answer may be more complicated, and confusing, than you might think.

A quick look at the regulations for my state, found in the Colorado Parks and Wildlife 2019 Big Game Brochure, for example, lists under Illegal Activities, #4, page 14:

“It is illegal to …Use the Internet or other computer-assisted remote technology while hunting or fishing. This includes unmanned or remote-control drones used to look for wildlife. Hunters and anglers must be physically present in the immediate vicinity while hunting and fishing”.

Clear as mud, right?

A call to the headquarters of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Office left me even more bewildered, after a customer service representative informed me that live action cameras were legal except during the hunting seasons, when all cameras must be removed.

Really?

Truth is, rules governing the use of all game trail cameras in Colorado can be found in The Code of Colorado Regulations, Department of Natural Resources, Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

The issue is specifically addressed in Chapter W-O-General Provisions 2CCR 406-0; Article IV – Manner of Taking Wildlife, #004 – Aids In Taking Wildlife; Section 3, Other Aids; Section E., Live-Action Game Cameras.

It reads:

““Live-Action Game Camera” means any device capable of recording and transmitting photographic or video data wirelessly to a remote device, such as a computer or smart phone. “Live-action game camera” does not include game cameras that merely record photographic or video data and store such data for later use, as long as the device cannot transmit data wirelessly.”

It also states:

“No person shall use a live-action camera to locate, surveil, or aid or assist in any attempt to locate or surveil any game wildlife for the purpose of taking or attempting to take said wildlife during the same day or following day.”

The question is, what exactly does all of that mean?

For one thing, it is clear that the use of standard trail cameras are legal throughout the year, including the hunting seasons, because the device stores images on a SD card and does not transmit data wirelessly.

Enough said.

That all changes when the camera can transmit data wirelessly. Surprisingly, (at least to me) this also applies to the use of a mesh network of cameras that tie in to a home camera with a SD Card. Even though the images on this type of network are not transmitted to a cell phone or computer, the network cameras collect and compile their images and then send their data to the home camera and it’s SD Card “wirelessly”, and therefore would be subject to the “same day or following day” provision.

With this being said, it is obvious that a “live action” camera can be used during the hunting season in Colorado. It would then be the timing of the hunt, after the receipt of downloaded, or collected images, that becomes the issue.

I have heard it said, for example, that one could not hunt for 48 hours after receiving an image of wildlife on your live action camera. At first look that reads about right, but actually… no.

The regulation states that you could not take or attempt to take wildlife during the same day or following day, which means that depending on the timing, could be much less than a 48 hour period.

For the sake of argument, let’s say, an animal could show up on your trail camera at one minute to midnight, which means that one could not hunt for the remaining minute of that day. A hunter would then need to wait out the next full day, and then could legally hunt the early morning of the day after that. In that scenario, one could hunt about 30 hours or so after the “surveillance” of game.

The timing of your hunt can also become tag specific, which means that you should be very aware of any “wildlife” that you may legally harvest with whatever tags you have in your pocket. “No person shall use a live-action camera to locate, surveil, or aid or assist in any attempt to locate or surveil any game wildlife for the purpose of taking or attempting to take said wildlife during the same day or following day” covers an amazing amount of unplanned contingencies.

Should you find yourself anxiously prepping to hunt a particular bull elk, for example, keep in mind that the waiting period required by the “same day or following day requirement” provision would change if a cow elk traveled by that same camera at a later hour, and you held an either sex elk tag. You might not, then, legally, be able to harvest that bull at that time.

I can easily think of several other potential conflicts with the regulations, but for now what I can simply say is that “gray areas” abound when it comes to the use of Live Action Game Cameras. The speculations, in fact, could go on forever, and possible infractions in the field may or not be easily defensible.

Perhaps in the end, my first contact at Colorado Parks and Wildlife was more right than he knew. At the very least it may not be a risk that you are willing to take, as game law violations have become an ever more serious matter.

Depending on your state regulations, it may in fact be much smarter to remove all wireless cameras from your hunting area during the hunting season. It would be far less confusing, and much more preferable than the possibility of staring directly into the investigative barrel of the courts and justice system.

We shall save a look at the ethical considerations…for another time!

Good Hunting!

By Michael Patrick McCarty

You May Also Wish to See Live Action Game Cameras – A Slippery Slope?

or, Common Sense Hunting Reform

 

We Would Love To Hear About Your State Game Laws And Your Experiences With Wireless Cameras.

 

The Browning Command Ops Pro Game Trail Camera. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty

Live Action Game Cameras – A Slippery Slope?

The Browning Dark Ops Pro XD Game Trail Camera, With Camera Security Box, Master Lock Padlock, and Master Lock Python Trail Camera Adjustable Camouflage Cable Lock. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty

Ready To Record, And Report. Photo By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

Post by  | July 18, 2018

On an October morning a decade or so ago, I was hunting woodcock in an abandoned orchard. A flight had come in and, in less than an hour, I collected my three-bird limit. That evening I got a call from an acquaintance, a deer hunter, who hunts the same orchard. He asked how I did and if I’d seen evidence of deer. How, I asked, had he known I had been hunting there that morning? He said he saw me on the trail camera he’d placed in cover. I was amused.

It’s now common to see cameras in the woods I hunt, and it’s interesting to hear from friends who share the pictures of animals their cameras record. I’m primarily a bird hunter so field cameras are of no use, though I have thought it would be neat to position a camera near a grouse drumming log to get some pictures of the showoff. It’s clear that a deer hunter can make good use of a game camera or two. It’s also clear that the technology is a useful tool for wildlife researchers. More broadly, I know public school and college teachers who have their students use remote cameras to record animal activities in their backyards and neighborhoods. Anything that gets young people outdoors and engaged in appreciating wildlife is a good thing.

But there is a downside that hunters in particular must face, and it’s gotten more acute with the development of so-called “live action game cameras,” units that record and transmit images in real time to a smart phone or other hand-held device. Does this technology tilt the playing field too far in favor of the hunter? Are you really hunting if your phone notifies you when a buck has stepped into the food plot?

This is not a new problem. Philosophers in ancient Greece worried about our ability to take unfair advantage over animals. Jose Ortega y Gassett praised hunters who deliberately handicapped themselves to make the contest between hunter and hunted a challenge. Aldo Leopold worried that “gadgets” would corrupt hunting: Even if the gadgets didn’t improve hunters’ chances of making a kill, they placed too much emphasis on the kill at the expense of the challenge of the chase. Theodore Roosevelt was characteristically blunt on the same subject: “The rich people, who are content to buy what they have not the skill to get by their own exertions – these are the men who are the real enemies of game.”

TR was familiar with both riches and exertion, but today, technology does not require inherited wealth. We have to ask ourselves if we want to make hunting easier, and perhaps more importantly, do we want to make success, defined as a kill, more certain? In any given year, no more than 20 percent of all deer and elk hunters harvest their animals. That they keep hunting, year in and year out, suggests that they are hunting for complex reasons that go far beyond the desire to kill: Failing to do so in any given year only heightens the expectations for next year.

Available technology now makes it possible for hunters to reduce the time they otherwise would have to invest in preseason scouting, even time afield during the season. Game cameras have become inexpensive, enabling hunters to check the movement of game in areas they intend to hunt without investing precious hours with boots on the ground. It’s easy to see how substituting technology for the laborious process of acquiring intimate knowledge of game is tempting, especially given the fact that for most hunters, there are many claims on “free” time.

At this writing (February 2018) only three states have banned live action cameras in season (Montana requires that all cameras be removed during the hunting season.) A few more are considering regulations. This is an issue that will become more pressing as cameras get more sophisticated. And then there are camera-equipped drones that raise even knottier ethical questions. Sixteen states have banned drones in season, thanks in part to advocacy by BHA.

We are facing the wicked problem of the “slippery slope”: Where do we draw the line between the acceptable and the unacceptable? Is the line purely a personal preference or ought there be regulations that say cameras are OK for preseason scouting but not during the hunting season? Ought we draw a line between conventional and live action cameras? And drones?

At bottom, the question is one of fair chase. Do live action cameras unacceptably tilt the playing field? There’s room for debate, but one thing is certain: The price of technology will go down and the ethical costs associated with accepting increasingly sophisticated electronic mediation between hunter and hunted will go up.

You Can Read The Original Article Here

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Reposted By Michael Patrick McCarty

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After The Hunters’ Have Gone

 

A Cow Elk Caught On A Game Camera During The Archery Season In Western Colorado.

Thirsting For Water At the End Of The Trail. Photo By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

You can feel them waiting, the elk…patiently, longingly, for the rapidly approaching darkness that signals an end to an impossibly hot, late summer day in the drylands of the west.

For there are eyes, and life, on the trail, which just minutes before offered nothing up but sun baked sand and rocks that might permanently sear the touch of a human hand.

They do not wait for the hunter to return to the comfort of camp, or home. In the deserts of everywhere the hunter of game may be the least of their worries, and the herd is driven by much more basic needs. Extreme heat has a way of focusing the body and being and the inner workings of every last cell down to one vital and all encompassing purpose.

To live…

For one more second…and one more day. One more sunrise, and moonrise, and another life sustaining gulp of water. This too, this murderous furnace, shall pass.

In the mean time, just what can a  bowhunter do when the air that slams your lungs hovers near 100 degrees? The answer is simple, though not always obvious. Things will change, as surely as the earth continues it’s orbit away from the sun. Until then, one can only do what a bowhunter does best.

Wait… Listen… Learn…Plan…

Slink to the shade, like all wild things must. Hunt when you can. Head for water, when it’s time.

And live…

 

Two Mature Bull Elk Head Down A Game Trail Towards Water In the Early Evening During A Colorado Bowhunt. Photo By Michael Patrick McCarty

Darkness Visible. Photo By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

By Michael Patrick McCarty

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Just Another “I Should have never left the blind” moment

 

A Young, Bull Elk Wanders Up A Game Trail during The Middle Of a Hot Day In Western Colorado. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty

What’s An Elk to Do When It’s Over 100 Degrees. Well, Look For Some Better Shade, Of Course! Photo By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

No matter how long I manage to stay in my blind or treestand during daylight hours, there always seems to come the time when one must decide to stay, or go. I always have a twinge of hesitation at that first step away, knowing that whatever I am waiting for on that day may be just out of sight down the trail.

In this case, I had been bowhunting for elk in western Colorado, on a game trail that had been very good to me in the past. As you can see from the photo on my game camera alongside my hide, a small bull was there, for some time actually, but alas, I was not. I left the blind that day at 9:00 a.m. to check another spot, and mostly because past experience had shown that the elk would have normally passed by before 7:30 a.m.

Yet, I don’t suppose you can blame me to much for my indiscretion. After all, the animal decided to mosey by after 3:00 p.m on a blazingly bright afternoon, and when the temperature readout on the trail camera recorded a balmy 104 degrees. I was taking a nap at whatever shade was available at the time.

Go figure!

And so much for the best laid plans.

It is why it is called hunting, and not shooting, after all.

Good Hunting!

And may you have the patience, and stamina, to remain in your blind much longer than I.

Michael Patrick McCarty

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Coyotes, Mountain Lions, and Bears, Oh My!

 

“Adoration is as alien to wild nature as blasphemy. Nature transcends love, goodness, malevolence or evil. It is simply a primordial force – shining, aloof and brooding, a vast sweep of power too awful to be imbued with human emotions, virtues or mischiefs. It is presumptuous to adore nature as it is to kick a redwood”.

John Madson, Stories From Under the Sky, 1998.

 

 

A closeup photograph of the eyes of a mountain lion
Things That Go Bump in the Night

 

 

Many of our followers are aware that I have done a lot of security work over the years, and I still do. I’ve spent many sleepless nights on one type of patrol or another, and I’ve learned to notice many things that most people miss in the world all around them.

Last night I missed a chance to see a big mountain lion moving just a short distance from my solitary post. It was reported to me by an excited and breathless observer, who apparently had some trouble believing his own eyes. He just had to tell somebody, and I’m glad it was me.

The sighting took place on the black top and concrete of a two-track bridge over a cold, clear river in western Colorado, not far from the unfenced yards of several exclusive homes and the manicured grounds of a large country club and golf course. It seemed an unlikely spot to find such a magnificent predator, or so he thought. For his part, the tawny beast was no doubt chagrined to find himself caught in such an exposed and vulnerable position.

The lion enjoys good company as he hunts. Coyote, the all-seeing trickster grows more bold and opportunistic with each passing year, having learned long ago to take advantage of the nonchalance of the family pet. He may have learned it from the big cat. Likewise, encounters with black bears are increasing, as are people and bear conflicts. As a result we receive many complaints about coyotes and bears on the property that I roam, and it looks like it may become particularly bad in this time of terrible drought.

After all, we are surrounded by the rocky mountain west, with national forest and other undeveloped lands close at hand. Still, a mountain lion report is big and electrifying news which will surely surge throughout the small community by morning. This creature rules by stealth, and it is no surprise that most people have never seen one outside of a zoo or animal park.

I have been quite fortunate to study them several times in my adventures and wilderness travels. I’ve spied them without them seeing me, and I’ve noted their reaction when they realize they haven’t seen me first. I’ve hunted them several times, and have found myself standing with the bawling hounds under the killing tree, with an angry and snarling cougar above. I’ve followed their distinctive paw prints over hill and dale, and on more than one occasion found their tracks following me. I love to watch them under any circumstance, and to see them do their thing for any amount of time is an awe-inspiring experience that marks an indelible impression. I can see a stalking cat right now, in my mind.

What I don’t like is this long-tailed ghost watching me, particularly when I don’t know it. I have absolutely no doubt that it’s happened, countless times, at close range and but a primordial fang away. I’d take a bet that it’s happened to you too, if you have spent any significant amount of time in puma country. Fates can change quickly, as the tip of a cat’s tail twitches, measuring what to do. But of course, we will never really know, and it only adds to the mystery and magic of it all.

 

A trail sign describing what to do when confronted by a mountain lion
Follow The Signs

 

I would have explained this to my wide-eyed mountain lion man, if I could have gotten a word in edgewise. There are some noteworthy visitors out there in the black night, just out of reach of headlight beams or human consciousness.

Think about that the next time you enjoy a hike on a shadowy mountain trail in a quaking aspen grove, and the hair on the back of your neck stands up for some unknown reason. You may wish to honor that sense. It’s there for a purpose.

Keep it in the back of your mind the next time you go out at night to check on your chickens or other animals in your backyard or back forty. Catch a breath, and take a second to wonder about what just made a nearly silent footfall, behind or above.

The possibility of a lion nearby reminds us of the wilds at the edges, and grounds us in the realities of the natural world. It’s an unsettling thought for some, and one that many of us have to live with when we spend time in the places that we love. Still, I would rather live where I live knowing that a mountain lion lives here too, rather than in a place known to have no mountain lions, and wishing that it did.

It’s a reality I am happy to accept, in the hope of but a quick glimpse, in the corner of an eye.

Posted by Michael Patrick McCarty

 

a nighttime trail camera photograph of a mountain lion
Things That Go Bump In The Night

 

There is not a week goes by that someone does not ask if we have had any puma reports, and I must say, I’m a bit anxious myself. The leaves in the high county are beginning to turn color already, far too early it would seem, and it won’t be long before the early snows are as high as an elk’s belly and the mule deer are headed for the lower valleys along the river. The big cats are sure to follow, and it is then that there is a fair chance to record them on a well placed trail camera. We hope that the hunting is good this season, for us, and for mountain lions everywhere.

You can see a short video of our night-time visitor here.

 

 

Game trail cameras are an invaluable tool for those wishing to document the comings and goings of our wild neighbors, particularly in those magic hours between dusk and dawn. Strategically placed, they can capture a delightful display of animal movements not otherwise observed. It’s great entertainment, with the promise of true surprise within easy reach. My anticipation of the next photo or the next video can barely be contained. You never really know what you’re gonna get…

We use several cameras scattered about the property, which we move on a regular basis. Our main interest lies in the activities of the creatures with two legs. We watch for trespass, intrusion, and foul play. That, of course, is a story for another time. Animal sightings are the bonus feature to the main event.

Today’s review of the image collection was no exception. They held the usual cast of characters. Marmots, foxes, and inquisitive raccoons. Wandering pets, and the occasional biker. One frame held the faint outline of a bear in the shadows, and another the up close face of a young mule deer.

And as you may have guessed by now, one camera captured a video segment of a mature lion on the prowl. At first there was nothing but the wide emptiness of the night, then the world lit up as the beams of infrared caught the ghostly figure like the flashes from an electronic campfire.

He was big and long and solidly built, with well-defined muscles that rippled on his bones as he padded easily back to who knows where. No doubt he had used this route before.

A house loomed large here too, just out of camera range. I know, because I set the camera there myself.

My reaction was sharp, and visceral. It’s one thing to hear someone else talk excitedly about their sighting and personal experience. You want to believe, yet, there’s always a little room for doubt in undocumented reports. It’s quite another matter when you actually see a lion for yourself, or have indisputable evidence in hand.

Real is real, and but a moment away from memory. It is undefinable proof of the untamed mystery of our realm, accessible to all just inches from the comforts of our daily routines.

I shall do my best to stay out of the big cat’s path and unseen wanderings, yearning, for his eventual return.

Hunt well, my friend.

Michael Patrick McCarty

Food Freedom, and Guns Too!

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Comments? Tell us about your Mountain Lion experience.

 

A Partying Party Of Pronghorns

August 2018

 

Pronghorn can provide an almost endless parade of entertainment for the perpetual watcher of wildlife, and I am always a most captive audience.

The most common sighting of an antelope for most people is that of an animal running away at an almost unbelievable speed, or perhaps just a view of their ears and head as they watch you from a long, long distance, before turning to leave.

Setting up in a blind near a water hole is a sure way to gain some close encounters of an animal not so easily observed. With luck you’ve already put in some blind time yourself, and if not, I hope that you will get to do so soon. You will not be disappointed.

With that in mind, here are just a few images from my August bowhunting adventure in Northern Colorado.

And yes, I did get my buck…but that, is another story!

 

A Pronghorn Antelope Doe Stares Head On At Close Range. Photograph by Michael Patrick McCarty, Taken On a Bowhunting Trip In The Red Desert In Northern Colorado
Ready To Shake Hands

 

Several Doe Pronghorn Antelope Watch The Horizon For Possible Danger In The Red Desert of Northwestern Colorado. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty
Where The Antelope And The Antelope Roam…

A Pronghorn Antelope Buck Leads The Way to Water For Two Young Ones On The Red Desert Of Northern Colorado. Photograph by Michael McCarty
Follow The Leader

 

Two Pronghorn Antelope Bucks Running Towards A Waterhole In The Red Desert of Northern Colorado. Photograph By Michael McCarty
Heading For Water

 

A Doe And Fawn Pronghorn Antelope Visit A Waterhole For An Early Morning Drink In The Red Desert of Colorado. Photograph By Michael McCarty
There’s Nothing Better Than A Cool, Early Morning Drink!

 

The Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) One of The West's Most Iconic Animals. Photography by Michael Patrick McCarty
Poetry, And Perpetual Speed, When Needed

 

Two Doe Pronghorn Antelope Stand At Alert, On The Red Desert of Northern Colorado. Photography by Michael Patrick McCarty, While Hunting Near Baggs, Wyoming.
I’ve Got Your Back!

 

A Doe Pronghorn Antelope Nurses A Fawn In The Red Desert Of Northern Colorado. Photograph By Michael McCarty
Bring On The Milk

 

A Waterhole On The Red Desert Of Northern Colorado, Surrounded By Sagebrush And Alfalfa. Home Sweet Home, And A Main WAter Source For Pronghorn Antelope, Mule Deer, and Age Grouse. Photograph by Michael McCArty
The Best Of All Worlds – A Spring-Fed Desert Waterhole Surrounded By Sage And Alfalfa

 

The Distinctive Tracks Of Pronghorn Antelope, Found In The Soft Sand At A Waterhole In The Red Desert Of Colorado. Photograph By Michael McCarty
Evidence Of What Was Here, And What May Come

 

A Young Mule Deer Buck And A Doe Pronghorn Antelope Share A Comfortable Summer Evening In The Red Desert Of Northern Colorado. Photograph by Michael McCarty
Mule Deer Like To Party Too!

 

Sage Grouse and Pronghorn Antelope Together On An Early Summer Morning On The Red Desert Of Northern Colorado. Photography by Michael Patrick McCarty
Sage Grouse Like To Have Fun With The Gang

 

A Pronghorn Antelope Buck In The Red Desert of Northern Colorado. Photograph By Michael Patrick MCarty
Eyes of An Eagle; Heart Of A Lion

 

By Michael Patrick McCarty

“The essence of being a really good hunter is, paradoxically, to love the particular species of game you’re after and have enormous respect and consideration for it”.

Hugh Fosburgh, One Man’s Pleasure, 1960

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The Ghost Spike Of The Night

A Spike Bull Elk, Caught in The Flash Of A Game Trail Camera In Western Colorado. Photograph By Michael McCarty
A Flash In The Darkness

 

September 2018

Lots of things happen after the sun goes down, often when you have just sat for hours in a hot and dusty blind without hide nor hair of a beast with horns.

Still, there is hope in the air, all around. The elk are close, somewhere, just out of sight, but obtainable.

With luck, you may catch them soon, early in the morning, or late in the day, with enough shooting light left to seal the deal.

I hope to see you again, soon, brother elk – and don’t forget to bring along your grandfather.

Can’t wait to meet him…

Good Hunting!

By Michael Patrick McCarty

Let The (Big)Game(s) Begin

Early August is scouting time in my big corner of the Rocky Mountains, for as many of you know the Archery elk and deer season is just around the corner and coming fast.

Placing and monitoring a pack of game cameras is one of my new found loves. You just never know what just found image awaits. For a hunter it’s like Christmas and birthdays and all things good beckoning from the end of the rainbow.

And all it really takes to claim your prize is just a little boot leather to get there.

Works for me…

Good Hunting, and may your arrows fly sharp and true!

Michael Patrick McCarty holds a Hoyt Satori Recurve Bow With A Selway Arrow Quiver. Photograph caught on a Browning Command Ops Pro Game Trail Camera, while on a scouting trip for elk in Western Colorado.
Taking The New Hoyt Satori For A Spin

A young bull elk walking on a well worn elk trail on a golden, early summer morning. Caught on a Browning Trail Camera in Western Colorado. Photo by Michael Patrick McCarty
Walking Into A Golden Morning