Deer Gear: Cuddeback Scouting Cams

Many younger hunters don’t know what it’s like to head into the field without smartphones, and they certainly don’t remember life before scouting cameras.

Because I have a few (nearly 40) deer seasons in my rear-view mirror, I can vividly recall when scouting cams hit the market. And I’m pretty sure I was one of the first guys in my hunting area to use the new technology to pattern local whitetails.

My first scouting cam was a Cuddeback, and it used 35mm film. (That’s my wife in the photo above in 2002.) If you don’t remember 35mm film, it’s something us old people used back in the day when people washed dishes by hand. The camera worked well, but it was expensive to keep running because film was expensive, batteries were expensive (and still are) and when the 24- or 36-exposure roll of film was used up, you had to take it to a 1-hour photo shop and patiently wait to get color prints. The system worked OK, except for those times when a family of raccoons decided to play in front of the scouting cam and you ended up with 36 prints of the bastards!

Cuddeback has been making trail cams since 1989, which is nearly twice as long as all other brands. And in the mid 2000s, when film died and everything on the planet went digital, the company was again leading the way. I immediately replaced my film cameras with digital models, and ever since then I’ve had at least two Cuddebacks documenting deer movement 24/7 on my hunting land in Wisconsin and South Dakota (compare the dead SD buck below with the alive one above).

I’ve shared this brief history lesson with you because this summer and fall I’ll again be running Cuddebacks, but my plan is to use the company’s Long Range IR model below. I saw it on display recently at this year’s Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas, and in my opinion, it’s a featured-packed camera and a great value ($150 street price).

The Long Range IR (Model E2) has a trigger speed of .25 seconds, a recommended range up to 100 feet, uses 20 LEDs and shoots color images during the day and black-and-white pics at night. There’s no visible flash. Yes, the LEDs glow red when viewed head-on, but in my experience, this rarely happens and almost never spooks deer.

This July I’ll place Long Range IRs on green fields to capture images of bucks in velvet, then I’ll move them into funnel spots and traditional scrape locations in mid October when bucks begin getting doe-on-the-brain. While some hunters use scouting cams to pattern deer, I use them more to take inventory of my whitetail herd. It gives me a solid starting point in knowing how many mature bucks are living on my land, and helps me know which bucks I should pass and which ones I should pursue.

Scouting cams such as the Long Range IR are just plain fun to use. It’s like Christmas morning every time I check the SD card on my computer, and from bucks and bears to coyotes and turkeys, you just never know what critter you might capture next.

P.S. Amazon has the Cuddeback Long Range IR in stock for a great price and no shipping. Buy one for yourself and one for your wife or girlfriend for Valentine’s Day!

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