The spring gobbler season opened May 1, and the statewide walleye, northern pike, tiger muskie and pickerel seasons opened Saturday, May 4.
As I was prepping for the remaining days of the gobbler seasons (no, I haven't taken both birds yet) I got to thinking about some of my camera equipment. It's often a problem deciding just which camera - or how many - to bring along on any hunting or fishing trip and that really got me thinking about how things have changed.
For those of you who have been hunting for a few decades or more, this will likely hit home, and for those of you with only a decade or so of hunting experience it'll be a yawner.
Let's start with trail cams. They currently come in such a variety that it's tough to decide which one you want or need, but I can say that the forerunner of the trail cam was a "trail timer." All it did was indicate the time something walked by the device. You never knew if it was a deer, bear, coyote or perhaps even another hunter, unless you had tracks to read.
Then an actual trail camera came along but it relied on 35-millimeter film. Better, but still not good. Then digital cameras came along. My first was a whopping 1.2-megapixel unit - an absolute beginner's camera by today's standard, but it sure made a difference in my ease of photography. However, it still was only a harbinger of things to come.
DIGITAL TRAIL CAMS
Eventually we had trail cams that used the digital camera technology but used a visible flash to get night time photos. That was much better but we still had room for improvement. Soon we saw infrared technology gain momentum and night photos became much better. Also, those initial 2-megapixel cameras blossomed into 4-, 5- or even 10-megapixel cameras, offering increased picture clarity.
Along the way we saw these devices become miniaturized so they weighed but a fraction of their initial weight, and some now even offer remote sensing capabilities that allow the camera to send photo to a remote "home" unit. I have no idea what the future holds but dozens of firms are developing trail cams that offer much more flexibility than they ever did.
Now let's move onto a parallel track and discuss other digital cameras. They've evolved from "point & shoot" to digital single lens reflex units and, while each type has its own advantages, they sure have made a big difference in photography in general. Some of the digital SLR cameras are as large as their 35mm counterparts but they do much more, and you have the advantage of never having to buy film again.
Now we can go to items that may have been considered novelties at one time but again have grown into their own photographic niche. Here are a few examples.
I have a pen that takes passable digital photos as well as video. While it'll likely never achieve the popularity or quality of regular digital cameras, it does have a place in my photographic "arsenal."
Another device that has increased in popularity among some hunters is the compact digital video camera that attaches to the bill of one's hunting cap or even straps to the barrel of your scattergun or rifle. Like all devices of this nature they have their advantages and disadvantages, but all offer a unique element to hunting or even fishing trips.
Recently I saw an item advertised and just had to have one. Essentially, it's a pair of polarized sunglasses, with a spare pair of clear lenses, and it takes beautifully clear videos and audio. Called the i-Kam-Xtreme, it features a 3-megapixel pinhole camera incorporated into the frame of the glasses at the bridge and has four gigabytes of built-in memory, enough for a few hours. You can add a micro SD card for even more memory.
It weighs just 1.4 ounces and has an internal battery that can be recharged using a provided AC adapter or even from your computer's USB outlet. If you want to watch any of the video you've taken you can hook the unit directly to your computer using a provided USB cable. It's not only a good video cam but a good pair of comfortable, polarized sunglasses as well.
There's a lot more I could tell you about the i-Cam-Xtreme but you can see it for yourself by going to www.hunterspec.com/products/i-KAM on the web. You'll also find it advertised in various sporting goods catalogs.
Are we finished with these special-purpose devices centered around digital cameras? Not likely. They'll keep on improving them and then think up some other great idea. Continue checking your sporting goods catalogs and you'll see what I mean.