Trailcam Captures Querulous Geezer

Most readers barely glance at the photographs accompanying these columns. The interest, after all, is in what is being written, not in whether the writer’s nose is cute.

Today is an exception.

The accompanying photograph is of an old man caught halfway between being quizzical and being perturbed. The setting sun angled off his balding pate to blot out the few remaining hairs, making him appear troll-like.

How would such a quirky photograph come to be?

Think “trailcam.”

I was presented with a trailcam, technically an infrared digital scouting camera, by my wife for Christmas.

When I hauled it out a month or so ago to begin to scout for thick-racked bucks on and around our farm, I realized that yet another technological invention had left me in the how-to-operate-it lurch. I am digitally advanced enough to operate the DVD/VCR player on our television set, the MacBook Pro computer with which this article was written, and the “dumb” cellular telephones used by my wife and me. On the Internet, I can check email messages, view Web pages and post smart-alecky comments to friends and family via Facebook.

But that’s about it.

We are not smartphone literate. I can record a TV program at the same time as I am watching it, but setting timers to regularly record programs to be shown days or weeks from now is beyond my level of technological literacy.

And, it turned out, I was not trailcam literate, either.

That brought about the accompanying photo, as I peered at the orange-backed rectangular set-it-up screen located below the lens and tried to get it to work by pushing the button on the front of the trailcam.

That was futile. The button on the front of the trailcam turns the device on, or off, but that is all.

Changing the many settings requires opening the latched bottom and using still more buttons secured inside the waterproof container, near where the removable memory card is stored.

I didn’t know that then, so I managed to capture this aforementioned memorable photo of me.

Now, though, I am, if not a whiz, at least competent in setting the camera to take daylight or nighttime photos of whatever passes in front of it.

The first time I saw the photos of the doe and two fawns, I was tickled. I moved the camera to another location.

That produced the second time I saw the photos of the doe and two fawns. Third location, ditto. Fourth location, I caught a photo of a feral cat – and the same doe and two fawns.

“You should name them,” said my neighbor, himself a trailcam user, as we compared notes about what we have captured on those memory cards.

No. I shall not name them.

We have dogs. They have names: Ralph and Buddy.

We have cats. They do not have names, because, being basically barn cats, they are not pick-up-able. I can stroke the back of one or another if the cat has just begun to ravenously gobble the smallish daily ration I put out for them, but any more familiarity brings forth an ominous spitting hiss.

Just as well. Territorial fights, passing vehicles and the vicissitudes of country life regularly turn over our population of cats. It is best to not become too attached.

Ditto for the chickens. We have about 30. We have only eaten two or three in the six or seven years in which we have had chickens, mostly to verify that we could in fact handle the kill-pluck-clean-cook procedure – and because one young cockerel-turning-rooster was far too aggressive and obnoxious. He did taste good, however.

“Don’t name things that you might want to eat,” is a cliche hereabouts.

But this doe and two fawns keeps showing up on the trailcam with such regularity that I feel inclined to name them – until I remember that, at my age, a doe might be the best I can manage in this hunting season, and we do love us our venison. It would be disconcerting to chomp on Cynthia, or Betty.

The trailcam is, in fact, a neat toy. I have not yet photographed bear or turkey, though neighbors Chris and Rick tell me they have done so. And some of the snapshots of the still-not-named Bambett and Bam-Bam and Boom-Boom (hardening my heart with gunshot-sounding names, I am) are of pretty darn good quality as photos.

So, despite the dearth of big-racked bucks (And do you think that I would tell you about them before hunting season even if they did show up hereabouts?), I am enjoying the anticipation of viewing the latest batch, and planning the next locales.

And I am working at not taking goofy-looking photographs of myself, or enhancing my age beyond its already advanced stage.

That, I fear, will be a losing battle.

Denny Bonavita is a former editor at newspapers in DuBois and Warren. He lives near Brookville. Email: