Sunday, February 18, 2018


As I have stated in other posts, my Moultrie M-880 trailcam is missing. It was last seen in Custer State Park in the Badger Clark Road area in November 2017, an area subsequently burned by the Legion Lake Fire a month later.

Since the area is easier to get to than my Wind Cave site 9.5 miles away, I checked the Moultrie on Nov. 18 on a drive back from Denver. This is one of the last images it got:

Last image from Moultrie?

Earlier this month I spent quite a while digging through the snow trying to find it, to no avail. I will return when the snow is gone. Best case is I find it, it may or may not be functional, but the memory card is intact and I have some more images of the fire. Medium case is I find it but the memory card is useless. Worst case is some a-hole stole it.

That's one of the risks of putting out trailcams, and one which I haven't had to deal with at my location in Wind Cave NP, which was at the bottom of a fairly steep hill. In fact, one of the problems I had there more than once was ME finding the cameras. Last year when the Moultrie was still there, I had to move it to a smaller tree when the strap broke. Even though it was only maybe 25 yards away, I had trouble finding it the next time because I didn't mark the new location on GPS accurately. Despite the remote location, hikers showed up in the shots twice in seven years at that site. I think the location in Custer SP is much more susceptible to foot traffic so maybe some mouth breather found it before the fire.

My plan going forward is to always mark the exact location with GPS, take a picture of the camera on the tree, and take a picture of the camera's field of view. Lately I haven't been securing my cameras with locking cables except for the Reconyx, but I'll probably start doing that again. It will discourage casual thieves and prevent the camera from falling off the tree in a fire.

A word about Masterlock cable locks: My first one had a 3/16ths-inch cable. After being outside for a few years, the lock seized up and would not turn and I ended up breaking off the key in the lock. In about 20 minutes I was able to cut the cable with a Leatherman tool using the file and wire cutter. I then bought a thicker 5/16ths-inch Masterlock to secure the Reconyx. I was able to unlock it after the recent fire, but I couldn't pull the cable through the lock because the fire had charred and melted the insulation. After not making much progress cutting through the cable with the Leatherman and a small hacksaw, I whittled the charred insulation off the cable with a knife and was able to pull it through. So in my experience the thicker cable is much better. But some jerk with a bolt cutter would make short work of either. Update: Just bought a $12 bolt cutter with 18-inch handles. It didn't cut through the 5/16ths-inch cable on the first try. But I repositioned and popped it easily on the 2nd try. Like I said, it may discourage casual thieves.

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