EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn. — The advent of trail cameras has yielded some striking insights into the natural world, but the three photos Jeff Boushee came across when he downloaded the card from a trail camera that had been set along the flooded Red River north East Grand Forks are as beautiful as they are impressive.
Three bucks and an antlerless deer wading down a submerged trail; a pair of wood ducks, their reflections perfectly mirrored in the muddy water; and a single buck swimming among the flooded trees.
Without getting too specific on the whereabouts, Boushee said he set the cameras in mid-August near his hunting spot on the Minnesota side of the river. He hunted the area with family during the Minnesota archery opener in early September and then a couple of other evenings.
Then came the barrage of rainfall in late September that flooded the area, followed by an early October blizzard.
The flood conditions prevented Boushee from making it back to the site until last week, when he retrieved the trail camera, along with another rusty camera that was damaged by flooding. A third camera is still submerged, he said, but the three photos on the camera that survived more than make up for it.
They’re works of art.
In the first photo, time-stamped at 10:23 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 20, three bucks and a smaller deer that’s either a doe or a buck fawn are wading on what would be their trail under normal river levels.
“It’s a nice used trail normally,” Boushee said. Perhaps the deer were just confused and intent on staying on the trail even though it was flooded, he said.
Three days later, at 2:51 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23, the camera captured the pair of drake wood ducks, resplendent in their colorful plumage.
Three minutes later, at 2:54 p.m., a lone buck came swimming by.
“He’s swimming toward the river, and there’s no high ground,” Boushee said. “I don’t know where he’s going or what he’s doing.”
Losing trail cameras to floodwaters was unexpected, Boushee said, but coming across the three photos when he downloaded them from the camera’s SD card to his computer was every bit as surprising.
Especially since there wasn’t much of anything on the rusty camera he salvaged. All of the cameras were set about 3 feet off the ground, he said.
“When I saw these, I thought, ‘Oh wow, this is fantastic,’ ” Boushee said. “They were pretty neat pictures. I was very pleased — very fortunate to get them.”
Browning, the company that made the trail camera, likely would be interested in seeing them, as well. It’s the only Browning camera they have, Boushee says; the rest are other brands.
“That Browning does a good job,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a very expensive camera. We don’t pay a lot for the cameras we use (but) I didn’t realize they’d have quality like that.”