Archive for the ‘Hunting’ Category

Outdoor Life’s 2016 Deer of the Year

September 8th, 2016 by BTC Editor


By Ryan Aulenbacher, winner of Outdoor Life’s 2016 Deer of the Year



I was lucky enough to chase and harvest Outdoor Life’s 2016 Deer of the Year after chasing him for the last 2 seasons. He was a 191.5” 19 point non typical that I nicknamed Mr. Photogenic due to the number of game camera pictures I had of him over that time.  In two seasons I never once laid eyes on him till the day I shot him last November.  I was able to track, stalk, and pattern Mr. Photogenic through the lens of my Browning Game Camera.



While I was hunting Mr. Photogenic I think there were 3 things that really made the difference in getting an opportunity to pull back.

  • Practice
  • Scent Control
  • Last but not least, a great game camera

Practice: I shoot

on average 2-3 arrows a day during the season.  Yeah shooting 20-30 at one time is good but you aren’t getting a second chance at a record book buck.  The first arrow is the only one that matters.  That’s why I only shoot a couple every day.  Sometimes I only shoot one if I like the shot.  But like I said I do it almost every day.

Scent control: I go through so many spray bottles as well as bottles of clothes wash it’s a wonder I don’t have to buy new camo every few months from getting worn out in my washer.  I don’t only pay attention to scent when I’m hunting; it’s an integral part of my game camera set-ups year round.  I typically only check my cameras and put them out during or right before a rain storm.  Then I spray them with scent eliminating spray just to be sure.  When I was chasing Mr. Photogenic I couldn’t let him know when I was coming and going and where

I was setting up.  If I would have been sloppy he would have relocated in a heartbeat.

Last and most important to all hunters I believe is a good game camera.  Like most of you I started out with a camera with a bright white flash and film you needed to develop at the local grocery.  Eventually I upgraded to some red glow which were much less noticeable than old school flash in my opinion.  On my red glow cameras the deer were almost always looking directly at the camera.  Newsflash brother, if that deer is looking at the camera you just spooked him.  How many times will you spook him before he changes his behavior?  One time? Two times? 5 times?  I don’t think deer like to be alerted in the middle of the night by a random light and the clicking noise of the red lens flipping back and forth.   That’s why I decided to upgrade to Browning’s Dark Ops game camera.  I didn’t want to lose an opportunity at a world class animal because of my camera.  The camera is supposed to help you, not hurt you.

I almost couldn’t believe how much of a difference it made when I upgraded to my Invisible Black Flash Browning Dark Ops game camera.  On the pictures you see here you’ll notice how there is not a single picture of Mr. Photogenic looking at the camera.  I was able to keep my DarkOps camera in the same tree from July through hunting season taking multiple pictures of him and he never changed his route.



I typically don’t like to hunt in the same stand very often when bow hunting but with the game camera pictures I was getting every few days he wouldn’t let me leave.  I had myself, my stand, my trail, and my game camera basically right in his path for 5 months and he never got pushed to a different area.  I literally was hunting the same stand 3-4 days a week.  Every time I would check the camera there were more pictures of him in the area.  I had to stay in that area if I wanted an opportunity.  That’s why I was crazy with my scent control.

I ended up shooting Mr. Photogenic 5 yards away from my Browning Dark Ops Game camera on that same trail.



That’s exactly why I used “The Best There Is” when hunting the Deer of the Year.


DIY Trail Camera Stand

September 1st, 2016 by BTC Editor

No tree around to hang your Browning Trail Camera? No problem! Pro-Staffer Kinsey Edmunds gives step-by-step instructions on how to make a homemade game camera stand that can be placed anywhere!


Kinsey Edmunds is a pro-staffer from Missouri. Being raised on a farm and surrounded by wildlife, her love for the outdoors began at a young age. Kinsey enjoys bowhunting whitetails, turkeys, hogs and gators, just to name a few. She is also a team member of Huntress View, a team dedicated to strengthening the ever-growing community of women hunters.

Estimating Whitetail Deer Score

August 28th, 2016 by BTC Editor

With the right camera and settings, photos captured can help immensely to accurately gauge a buck’s net score well before it hits the ground.

Hunting stores like Cabela’s have a wide range of trail cameras and filtering through pictures is quickly becoming a favorite past time of hunters.  Like Christmas morning, each memory card filled with thousands of pictures is waiting to be opened and scanned. Every hunter will have a different level of “acceptable” target deer to hunt. For rookie hunters, anything that moves will usually suffice. Bow hunters might be interested in the Pope and Young minimum qualifying score as a target buck for the season. For others, it may be that elusive net score of 150 inches(“).  And for the seasoned trophy hunters it’s likely to be upwards of 170” (the Boone and Crockett all time net typical minimum).  Either way, it depends on what hunting stage the individual is in, where their hunting territory is and perhaps how much time they can afford to dedicate towards hunting season.  No matter who you are, where you hunt or what your goals are, Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young conversation clubs established a consistent method of measuring deer antlers many years ago.

Previous to the 1990’s, trail cameras were non-existent.  Now a days, it is hard to find a hunter without one.  Trail cameras scout 24 hours a day, 7 days a week providing great information regarding:

  • herd population
  • herd age classes
  • frequency of movement
  • buck to doe ratio
  • target bucks
    • largest antlers
    • worst genetics

Scoring a deer is the act of adding up all the qualifying inches the buck has.  Scoring a live buck is difficult at best as they usually do not stand motionless for long or in the right position to properly gauge their score.  This is where trail cameras can really help out, especially models with burst mode that take many pictures in rapid succession.  A whitetail deer’s net typical score is composed of 5 components from the antler rack they possess:

  1. Length
  2. Height
  3. Thickness (mass)
  4. Spread
  5. Length of abnormal points

Length is measured as the total distance from where the antler start on the head to the tip, referred to as the main beam.  If the length of the right main beam is shorter than the left, or vice versa, estimate the shortest.  Antler symmetry is a factor, so an official score sheet will add the actual length of both sides and subtract the difference.  Therefore, starting with the shorter main beam eliminates the step of adding and subtracting the inches that are not present on both main beams.  To get a good estimate of length you need a picture of the buck from the front (looking at the camera) or top (facing the camera head on, but sniffing the ground).  This orientation clearly outlines the main beam, how far it goes out towards/past the ears and will also help identify the shorter one (if any).  A helpful second picture is a side profile of the deer’s head on alert (head up).  This gives great indication of how far past the nose the main beam goes.  The distance from the eyes to the tip of the nose on a mature buck in Alberta is 7”.  Visit some mounted deer from your local hunting area and take measurements of this same distance and use it as a reference point.  At the end you should have one number – the length of the shortest main beam.

Using the outer distance between the eyes atop the skull as a gauge (6”), I estimated each main beam to extend outwardly 7.5” and then turn back inward 6.5”. Photo also give a clear view of the spread estimated at 19” (6.5 + 6 + 6.5) using the same gauge. Excellent photo to show the difference in the first tine set (G1’s) and to confirm this buck is a 4x4. I estimated the shortest G1 tine at 4”, again with the same gauge.

Using the outer distance between the eyes atop the skull as a gauge (6”), I estimated each main beam to extend outwardly 7.5” and then turn back inward 6.5”. Photo also give a clear view of the spread estimated at 19” (6.5 + 6 + 6.5) using the same gauge. Excellent photo to show the difference in the first tine set (G1’s) and to confirm this buck is a 4×4. I estimated the shortest G1 tine at 4”, again with the same gauge.


Using the distance from the eye to the snout tip as a gauge (7”), I estimated the middle part of the main beam to be 8”. I also used this picture (and same gauge) to estimate the second tine (G2) at 9”and the third tine (G3) at 7”. Estimated total tine height is 20.5” (9” + 7.5” + 4”). The main beams look very symmetrical but I estimated the right one at 22” (7.5” + 6.5” + 8”).

Using the distance from the eye to the snout tip as a gauge (7”), I estimated the middle part of the main beam to be 8”. I also used this picture (and same gauge) to estimate the second tine (G2) at 9”and the third tine (G3) at 7”. Estimated total tine height is 20.5” (9” + 7.5” + 4”). The main beams look very symmetrical but I estimated the right one at 22” (7.5” + 6.5” + 8”).

Net typical height is the total length of all tines (points) that come off the main beam, minus any differences between the sets.  To begin, choose the first tine (starting from the head) sprouting from each main beam and estimate the length of the shortest one.  Then use the same process on the next set of tines, until you are done. If one main beam has more tines than the other, ignore the extra tines.  Only measure the typical tines, meaning where you’d expect the buck to have a tine coming off the main beam. You will need as many pictures as possible with the buck looking in all directions with his head held high.  Use a reference like the distance from the eye to the tip of the nose to gauge the length of each tine.   In the end you should have one number created by adding the estimated length of the shortest tine in each set.   For example, if it was a 5×4 typical buck, you would have:  (Shortest G1(brow) tine) + (Shortest G2 tine) + (Shortest G3 tine) + 0.  Note: The tip of each main beam is not a tine and was already accounted for when estimating the main beam length.  Official scoresheets have an excellent visual representation of the tines and their common names (G#).


Photo gives a good indication of how many tines are on the antlers. In this case, an even three per side.

Photo gives a good indication of how many tines are on the antlers. In this case, an even three per side.

Mass (or thickness) of each antler is measured before each tine sprouts until you reach four measurements.  Add those four number together for total mass.  Again, use the antler that looks to be the smallest.  More often than not I don’t bother with estimating this measurement and just use 18” on mature deer as a baseline.  If the deer antlers look really thick, I will add up to 3” and vice versa for skinny antlers.  Be cautious of bucks that move during photo capture causing them to appear ‘heavier’ (more mass) than they actually are.  Browning trail cameras shoot the fastest shutter speed (even at night), minimizing motion blur and provided crisp photos to estimate mass.  I have used both the snout and eye socket as a reference to diameter of the main beam because they both measure around 1.5 – 2”, but like I said, I usually just go with 18” as a conservative estimate.

Unabstracted view of main beam thickness against grass, however this deer is in velvet (which counts). Compare it to the eyeball and snout.

Unabstracted view of main beam thickness against grass, however this deer is in velvet (which counts). Compare it to the eyeball and snout.


Excellent photo to show symmetry because tine sets. This deer appears to have the same tine length on both the right and left antler.

Excellent photo to show symmetry because tine sets. This deer appears to have the same tine length on both the right and left antler.

Spread is the width between the left and right antler.  Spread is measured by finding the longest distance between the inside of the right and left main beam.  Unlike length, mass and height, spread is only counted once, not twice (for each antler side), therefore it contributes the least towards final score.  A really wide 4×4 buck will be most impressive at first glance, but a narrower 5×5 buck should have a better score because it’s far easier to have 8 additional inches by having a forth 4” tine on each side as opposed to 8” between the right and left antler.  A picture showing the ears and the buck looking at the camera is great to estimate spread.  I have also used the skull as a good gauge to estimate spread.

Once you have estimated length, height, mass and spread, the final number required is the total length of all abnormal points.  Any picture you have will help find these hidden deductions.  Estimate the length of each one and tally them up to one number for both the right and left antler.  If you have more than 15” of abnormal points, it qualifies for non-typical scoring instead of typical scoring.

For your final estimated net score do the following:

  • Length + Height + Mass
  • Double it
  • Add Spread
  • Subtract length of abnormal points (if less than 15 otherwise add)


The burst mode on this Browning trail camera took 8 pictures of this buck in rapid succession, providing various camera angles to accurately estimate the buck net typical score at 140”.  ([22(length) + 20.5(height) + 18(mass)] x 2 + 19(spread) – 0(non-typical deductions)).  I never did shoot this buck, so I’ll never know fore sure though.

An official score sheet is much more precise when it comes to deductions but since estimating the shorter and smaller side of the antlers eliminates those differences (from non-symmetry) immediately.

Remember, score is just a number, it does not consider effort, method of hunting, determination or atmosphere which all contribute to making a deer hunt memorable.  Trail cameras are an excellent tool for estimating buck scores before a hunter decides to target that particular deer.  I know I still enjoy “if it’s brown it’s down” hunts but I have enjoyed holding out for specific bucks captured on trail cameras that I know will qualify for Pope and Young records book based on the estimating process described above.









By Gord Nuttall

Gord Nuttall is an enthusiastic outdoorsmen and award-winning freelance writer that spends countless hours sorting through Browning trail camera pictures of western big game animals to pursue.  Follow all his adventures at

Kristy Lee Cook Q & A – Part 1

August 21st, 2016 by BTC Editor




Kristy Lee Cook is most known for being a top 10 Finalist on Season 7 of “American Idol”. She has since stayed in the spotlight and is currently co-hosting “The Most Wanted List” on the Sportsman Channel, along with her 2 friends Jess and Jessi Jo. We recently sat down with Kristy to find out more about her and her love for singing, hunting and all things Browning.

BTC: You are co-host for “The Most Wanted List” on the Sportsman Channel, along with your friends Jessi Jo and Jess. Tell us a little about the concept of this show.

KLC: The show is basically about just having adventures and bringing along friends and family. It’s really fun because we get to bring out a lot of different people on the show. I brought my brother on and we bring celebrities on. It’s just really about showing what it is to share adventures and doing everything you’ve wanted to do in life. A lot of people say there’s things they want to do, and then never do them. We actually go and do them. A lot of people just say it, and they never get the chance to do and see things, so the whole point of the show is to go on these adventures, everything we’ve wanted to do in life, like hunts and anything else we can think of and we go and do it.



BTC: You’re all 3 barrel racers and you (KLC) travel all over the country for that as well to compete in competitions?

KLC: Yes, I do. I’m actually in Texas right now for a competition and I was in Utah and California before that.


BTC: Which do you find to be more of a rush: barrel racing, singing in front of a big crowd, or shooting a big buck?

KLC: Oh boy! Well, I don’t get buck fever. I would say the most nerve-racking thing for me is singing the National Anthem. It’s such a hard song to sing and if you mess it up you’re known for life for messing it up. So that’s probably the most nerve-racking thing for me. I do get nervous


BTC: I’m sure you’ve had the opportunity to hunt with some well-known people. What is one person that you would like to hunt with one day that you haven’t yet & why?

KLC: I would really like to hunt with my sister again. That would be a lot of fun. I took her on her very first hunt and that’s the only hunt she’s ever been on so I’d like to take her again one day. I’m actually going to have one of my other best friends on the show. I kind of just want to bring on my friends and family and help people go on hunts and adventures that they’ve always wanted to do.


BTC: You had a Camaro completely wrapped in camo with the Browning Buck Mark on the hood, so it’s safe to say you’re in love with the Browning brand. How did your love for Browning start?

KLC: Well I’ve just always loved Browning. I came up to them one day and said I would love to put your logo on my car. It’s good advertising and I’m a Browning girl and I want to camouflage my car. So I talked to them about it and they said it would be great if I wanted to do that. I’ve always wanted a camouflage Camaro so I did it! It was just cool.



BTC: Was yours was the only one out there like that?

KLC: It was the only one in the world. I did see a few cars get done like that after I did mine, but it was pretty neat having the only car in the world like that. You’d find either people liked it, or didn’t like it. For the people that didn’t like it I was like, “Well, I have the ONLY one in the world like this”. I liked it!


BTC: Any good stories about that Camaro? Drag racing? Tickets? Burnouts?

KLC: Actually yes! I’m so used to driving trucks so when I had my Camaro, I was in Nashville and I was going 80 down the freeway in a 65 zone. I didn’t feel like I was going 83 at all because it just drove so fast and smooth. I got a ticket for that for sure.

I couldn’t take it anywhere without people wanting to take a picture of it. I would be in the gas station in my PJ’s and people would still want to stop and take a picture with me and my car.

I also have a little bit of road rage, so everybody knew it was me who was cutting them off!


Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Q & A with Kristy Lee Cook, to be posted at Huntress View


The evolution of the trail camera has been simply remarkable over the last several years, from taking 35mm film to the photo shop to the almost instant gratification of looking at them on your phone, things are simply in a place that was once only a dream.

With that said, there are still some factors in play when it comes to nighttime images that make them seem behind the times.  With all of the advances in technology, why have nighttime images not been perfected yet?  Well, in this format, we’ll do our best to explain the basic science of nighttime images on trail cameras.

Seeing the Waves

Nope.  We’re not at the beach.  But to develop a basic understanding of what’s going on with nighttime images you will want to make sense of the following to help differentiate between the various types of flashes:

  1. Our eyes can only see light that exists within a small range of the electromagnetic spectrum.
  2. That electromagnetic spectrum is measured in wavelengths.
  3. Those wavelengths are measured in nanometers.

Ultimately, these nanometers are your take away from this section because this is the measurement that you can use to understand how each type of flash impacts the quality of your game camera pictures.

If you need a visual aide to help you more effectively wrap your head around the concept of nanometers, NASA has created a handy below:


Measuring the Flash?

Well, we’ve given you the basics on nanometers, but now you’re asking: why do I care?  Well, we’ll do our best to explain that here as simply as possible across all three types of flashes found on trail cameras:

White Flash Cameras   

If you look at the chart from NASA, you will see that they define “visible light” as being in the range of 400nm to 700nm.  That’s pretty much what you get with a “white flash” camera and that’s how you get to see the full color images.


Low-Glow/Standard Infrared (IR) Flash

Now it starts to get a little more complex, because we’re going to step outside the range of “visible light” and move into the infrared range.  For cameras that fall into the “low-glow” or “standard” infrared (IR) category, it’s reasonable to suggest that most of these cameras measure around 850 nanometers.

Now, even though these camera flashes technically fall in the “Infrared” category, they are still close enough to the red in the “visible light” range that (A) if someone is looking in the general direction of the LED bulbs when it takes a nighttime image they will see a “low red glow” and (B) the flash still generates enough illumination to take a reasonably good nighttime images.

Obviously, you sacrifice the color of the images here since you are using a flash outside of the spectrum found in the “visible light” range, but you are still getting a reasonably crisp image without the “flash of lightning” effect you get with a white flash camera.

Bucks IR


Invisble/No Glow/Black Flash

As we discuss this type of flash, it is worth noting that it still falls within the infrared light range.  It is simply further away from the “visible light” range than the low-glow infrared flash cameras.  With flashes in this category, it is reasonable to assume that most of them can be measured around 950 nanometers.

The net result of this is that the LED bulbs are not visible when taking a nighttime image, BUT in exchange for that “invisibility” you are sacrificing image quality when compared to the other types of flashes.  This is because invisible flash cameras simply do not illuminate the subject matter as much as the other two.

In this image below, if you look back up to the one we used for the “low-glow” images you’ll notice that the image captured by the “invisible flash” camera is a little grainier and has a little more “white noise.”  They are both still good images, but you can see that one is a little clearer than the other.

Bucks Black Flash


Speed Matters

Now, we could get into a long dissertation about the impact that SHUTTER SPEED has on trail camera images, but for today we’ll just provide you with a few quick notes and save the essay on “shutter speeds” for another day.

In this context we only want to relate shutter speed to the amount of light that is available for capturing images.  So here goes: the more light you have available, the faster the shutter speed can be.  The less light/illumination you have available, the slower the shutter speed must be.

Basically that means this: during the day you have enough light for the shutter speeds to be super-fast and capture cool images of deer jumping and birds flying.  This is why most of the cool action shots we see in trail cam pics are daytime pics.

Crows BTC


It also means that as you move further away for the visible light range with your flash (i.e From 700 nanometers to 850 nanometers to 950 nanometers…), the shutter speed must slow down to allow enough light inside the camera to capture nighttime photos.  In layman’s terms, as you move from a white flash to a low glow IR flash to an invisible flash, you are increasing the likelihood of blurred images because the shutter speeds needs to slow down.  While this example isn’t horribly blurred, it still demonstrates that the illumination from an invisible flash camera accompanied by the slower shutter speed, doesn’t always give you the cleanest image in the world.



What Do I Really Need to Remember?

Well, here is the gist of it, starting with the very basic premise that there are two types of trail camera pictures: daytime pictures and nighttime pictures.

Beyond that, based simply on game cameras, there are 3 types of nighttime images: those taken with a white flash, those taken with a standard/low-glow IR flash, and those taken with an invisible/black flash.

So if we take those four types of images and rank them based on potential quality of the images based on the lighting, they would be ranked as follows:

  1. Daytime Images
  2. White Flash Images
  3. Low Glow/Standard IR Images
  4. Invisible/Black Flash Images

Obviously, there can be a lot more depth to the discussion on flashes and nanometers and shutter speeds and everything else that leads to the trail camera pictures you find on your SD cards, but hopefully this gives you a little bit more of a foundation for understanding why some of the pictures you find on your SD cards look the way they do and helps you with you game planning when it comes to where you put your different types of trail cameras!


Tom Rainey

Tom Rainey has been with Browning Trail Cameras ever since they were introduced at retail and enjoys hunting everything from squirrels to whitetail deer…but his obsession is turkey hunting.  His grandfather purchased him a Belgium Browning 20-Gauge A-5 prior to his birth and he has been a fan of the Browning brand ever since…

Bowhunting: Tips For Mental Preparation

August 7th, 2016 by BTC Editor



Whitetail archery season is right around the corner! Most likely you’ve spent the past few months or more preparing yourself physically by practicing daily and getting into shape. Being physically fit definitely helps, especially for those who spot and stalk hunt. But being prepared mentally is just as important and is commonly overlooked while preparing for bow hunting.

If you’ve been hunting for a while, you probably have a good idea of how you typically react when a buck walks under your stand and how well you’re able to keep your cool.  But if you’re new to hunting altogether, preparing for your first bow hunt can be a little more of a challenge. You’re still working on getting your shooting form down, on top of being nervous about what to expect during your first bow season.

Here are a few things that may help you when preparing yourself mentally for your first bow hunt, your first deer harvest with a bow, or even for those who have had some recent onsets of buck fever and are having trouble getting past that.


Andrea B-Roll 7


Keep in mind that shooting at a deer from your tree stand or blind is a totally different ball game than just practicing in your backyard. It’s much easier to make a great shot at a target while you’re not under any kind of pressure than it is at a live animal when your adrenaline is pumping. Plus, mother nature can throw some curve balls at you, making it that much more of a challenge.

I think one of the best ways to prepare yourself for shooting at a live animal is to force yourself to practice in ways that simulate real world hunting scenarios. Try shooting at low light, on a windy day or in an uncomfortable position. While you’re hunting you will very likely experience all 3 of those situations, and there’s a good possibility that’s when the buck of a lifetime will step out.


Envision The Shot

Bow hunting is definitely a mental game. If you go into a hunt with a negative attitude or start doubting yourself, you’re probably going to mess up a shot opportunity. Stay positive and visualize yourself making a great shot on a deer. I will often play out different scenarios in my head to better prepare myself. I check my surroundings and make mental notes on when I think I will be able to draw my bow if the deer were to come from my right, my left, or the front, etc. Whitetail have a mind of their own and you can bet that they probably won’t do what you have in mind. It’s good to expect the unexpected.

Just Breathe

When you are preparing to shoot, just take a few breaths to calm your nerves. I know you may not always have the time to do this, as deer can come in pretty fast and often give you just a few seconds to make a shot. But if you’re watching a deer slowly making its way towards you and you feel like your heart is going to beat out of your chest by the time it gets within shooting range, I highly recommend closing your eyes & just breathing for a few seconds. It really does help.

Know Your Limits

If a deer steps out and it’s too dark to make an ethical shot or it’s just a little farther than what you are comfortable with, don’t force it. One of the best ways to break your confidence is to make a bad shot on an animal. If you’ve been hunting long enough you will mess up sometimes, as none of us are perfect. Just make sure you aren’t messing up because you’re pushing yourself past your limits. When in doubt, just pass on the shot.

Hunt Alone If Necessary

This may not seem like an issue, but for me it is. I get more nervous when there’s someone in the stand watching me than if I were to just hunt alone. My first deer with both rifle and bow were during solo hunts and I preferred it that way. I had practiced enough that I was confident in my shooting ability and didn’t want to listen to another person’s voice telling me what to do, on top of trying to listen to the voice in my head as well. For me, that worked and I feel it helped me stay more focused. That may not work for everyone though, so if you feel you need someone there to help guide you through it, that’s ok too.

Experience is the best teacher with bow hunting, but unfortunately when you’re new to it you don’t have that luxury. The best thing you can do is just make sure you’re as prepared as possible, both physically and mentally, for whatever this bow season may throw at you.

Good luck this season!

Andrea Haas

Andrea Haas is a Pro-Staffer from Missouri who enjoys turkey hunting, deer hunting and bowhunting. She is also the founder of the Huntress View, an organization formed to help strengthen the ever growing community of women hunters.