The snapping crunch of branches and brush make for a surround-sound experience as deer hunter Derek Malcore moves through the forest of Marinette County.
“It's thick. It's hard to walk through. People don't like going through that stuff,” Malcore said.
But animals don't mind. Making a small avenue in the woods Malcore is en route to the perfect place for a trail camera.
“You actually get to know these deer when you get a picture,” Malcore said.
Between his five cameras positioned across the Wisconsin Northwoods, Malcore's cameras have snapped photos of deer in mid-jump, out for a midnight stroll in darkness, and even some that place animals taking an inquisitive look inside his camera.
“It's fun to do, and you get pictures of all kinds of weird stuff that you would never see if you didn't have one,” Malcore said. “That element of not know what could be there, it just gets you hooked,” he continued.
That sentiment of excitement is echoed by hunter Lonnie Bernarde.
“It's kind of like catch and release,” Bernarde said chuckling.
As a bow hunter, Bernarde says he enjoys the silence easily found amid the ample birch trees of western Shawano County. But even after hunts that don't yield any deer, Bernarde doesn't return home empty handed.
A network of trail cameras that the hunter has planted across his property have been hard at work. Some taking photos of deer, but others of bear.
“They all look alike unless you look a bit closer at them,” Bernarde said.
A feat difficult to accomplish in the wild, but easily doable when scores of photos document features like size, gender, and approximate age.
Bernarde has seen photos of large bears and cubs. His trail cameras have snapped images of bears seemingly winking at the camera while others in search of a drink. But in any event, Bernarde says he enjoys the ability to see what kind of animal activity is taking place in his backyard.
“There's so much more going on in the woods,” outdoorsman Dave Simonis said.
Simonis owns wooded land near the border of Wood and Portage counties. One of his favorite activities is to utilize his ATV and check on his collection of trail cameras placed across the property.
Among his snapshots includes images of turkeys seemingly in a full sprint, lone wolves overlooking a Wood County field, and reclusive little mammals known as fishers.
“I never would have seen it without the trail camera, and they're still out here,” Simonis said.
That statement highlights a basic, yet interesting point in the field of trail cameras. They're designed to snap photos and record videos automatically, whenever a moving object enters it's field of vision.
That means everything from field mice to humans can trigger trail cameras.
“We've used trail cameras for criminal investigations for some time now,” Adams County Sheriff Sam Wollin said.
The ability of trail cameras to be an additional pair of eyes in remote locations has proven beneficial to law enforcement.
“The sheriff's office has trail cameras that we use during investigations that we have set up and in attempt to identify several individuals we believe to be involved in some criminal activity,” Wollin said.
The department shares photos of individuals in an attempt to identify them with the public's help through social media platforms like Facebook. Anyone with information that can assist the department in finding out the identify of people of interest can contact Adams County Crime Stoppers at 1-877-524-5846 or by texting to the number 274637. The department's Facebook page is available at this link.
“You never know what you're going to see, and you see some crazy things,” Dave Simonis said. A statement unifying the sentiment of those who use trail cameras making it a passion worth sharing.