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Pictures of thieves in action

n trips through the farm and around the lake, my wife and I have been spotting quite a number of deer, some sporting rather impressive antlers already.

We had talked about putting out the trail cameras but had just not gotten around to it.

While shopping one day, my wife found a block made of corn, sunflower seeds, and other goodies that would be attractive to wildlife. It had been compressed into a cube about twelve inches on each side. With her new purchase, she insisted we put out the cameras and see what we could photograph.

She wanted her block and one camera on the opposite side of the lake from the cabin. In the late afternoon, we frequently see deer come out of the timber, down the hill and get a drink. It seemed like a good plan to me.

I loaded the block, a steel post, the post pounder and the camera in the Gator. Two dogs ran ahead, hunting feverishly as we drove across the dam and up the other side. According to them there were plenty of fresh scents around. They had a wonderful time bounding through the tall grass checking every track in the area while I set the post to hang the camera.

My wife put out the feed block while I adjusted the camera. From past experience, I have learned several things about camera placement.

1. If at all possible, face the camera north. If facing east, morning pictures will be messed up by the rising sun. The same is true with the setting sun if a person points the camera west. If the camera is aiming south, most of the pictures will be adversely affected.

2. Remove anything in the area that may blow rhythmically in the breeze. It is really annoying to have a few hundred pictures of a tree branch dipping down into view.

3. Keep the camera away from domestic animals. It is not bad to have a few pictures of the dogs coming and going while a person is setting up, but forty pictures of cows walking toward the pond get rather boring.

The other camera was set near the spillway of the lake. Water always runs out and a variety of animals come for a fresh drink. Now all we had to do was wait patiently for a few days to see what we could capture in pictures.

Sunday, we went back to check on the results. As we neared the lake, the first thing my wife noticed was her corn block was gone. I could not see it clear across the lake when it was there so I had to take her word for it. We went over to check it out.

Approaching the camera, I had to admit, the block was not where we had left it. We looked around and found it about 20 feet down the hill, closer to the water, with the edges and corners rounded off.

I pulled the memory card and we went to the other camera. I there discovered I had neglected to put the memory card in that camera.

Anxiously, we drove home to check our results. The first picture was the same one we get every year. It is a close up of my face as I try to figure out why the camera is not working. The second picture was of my hand as I aimed the laser pointer toward the food block. From there it got much more interesting. Each day, pictures showed three young bucks and two does passing by as they went for a drink. They paused occasionally to look curiously at the camera but did not touch the block. The final several pictures on the camera were of two raccoons rolling the food block down the hill.

I am not sure if they had a getaway vehicle in the area but they definitely were trying to steal the whole thing for their own use.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.