Posts Tagged ‘living off the grid’
I get a lot of enjoyment out of putting out my game cam and seeing what I can catch on film. I’ll save left over food from home to put out to see what predators come in, and recently, my friend Peter had a great idea for a do it yourself long term game feeder. Like all good ideas it’s simple and easy to do. Just take a PVC pipe and cut it to a desired length – the one Peter made that I tried was about 5 feet in length and will hold a 50 pound bag of grain or more. You could increase the length to be able to add more grain and save yourself trips out to the feeder. The key is to place the bottom of the tube at ground level or just a millimeter or two above – that way the grain isn’t all over the ground in the elements, and critters can paw at the bottom to get more food taking advantage of gravity flow. It works a lot better, in my opinion, than the timed broadcast feeder I bought a number of years ago from Cabelas – with the broadcast feeder it’s spewing out food that is not being eaten and I would often arrive to fill the feeder to find the entire contents had been emptied onto the ground without being eaten. With this much simpler and cheaper method, the food stays put – dry and protected until something actually comes by to eat it. You can see in the pictures below that I attached the pipe to the tree with just a ratchet strap, you could also use duct tape or a number of other methods. You can also paint the PVC pipe if you feel so inclined. For the top you can use any number of items that can cover the hole to keep the elements out – I cut the top off a plastic whiskey bottle and put it over the top and it worked great. Peter made a few of these, and I put one out for a week – I set it up quickly with just the ratchet strap and there wasn’t a feed store open on the Sunday that I put it out, so I simply put in 10 pounds of guinea pig feed I grabbed at Wal Mart. Corn or sweet feed for horses or any type of grain will work. In a weeks time I had 69 pictures, the guinea pig feed was completely gone and the ground at the bottom of the feeder was pawed and dug up. Here are some of the best pics that I got, taken on a wildgame camera – reasonably priced as far as game cameras go, and takes good pictures -
I also wanted to add a disclaimer that feeding wildlife, especially deer over the long term is not a good idea. I have witness several deer over the years that have died from malnutrition in the winter because of “good samaritans” that thought they were helping by putting out food. There are some very good reasons listed here. It should only be done on a limited short term basis.
Game Cameras (Cams) come in many different choices these days, and have a big range in cost. Many excel in one area but under-perform in another. I’ve had a lot of fun with mine, and you never really know what you’ve captured on film while you were away. It’s exciting to run up to the camera to see how many pictures it’s taken and of what. There are a few things you have to think about when you’re shopping around for a camera – first being this day and age digital is the only way to go. I’ve used the old 35mm film cameras when digital was still expensive, and between the incandescent flash and the film advance you’re spooking critters left and right, some of whom won’t return. Some digital cameras have an incandescent flash so you can get color pictures at night, but I prefer the infrared (IR) flash because the creature you are taking a picture of never even knows it. It does give a more “ghosty” appearance to your images, but it looks fine, if not better, to me. Generally the faster the trigger time the higher quality (and price) of the camera. However, if you’re on a feeder or bait as I am, trigger time doesn’t matter all that much because the animal is hanging around having their picture taken. If you are interested in a game trail or security though, you’ll need a fast trigger time. The detection zone of a camera is comprised of the width and the range. Cameras vary in ranges from 30 feet to 100 feet, and widths of 5 to 90 degrees. Each camera will have their own specs, and if possible it’s best to see pictures that it’s taken at various lighting and distance to see if it will work for what you want it to, and most camera manufacturers will have pictures available to view. The other factor is recovery time – the time it takes to take and store a picture to be ready to take another. Some take only half a second, which would be good on a game trail, and some take 60 seconds or longer, which is ok if you’re on a feed station. Obviously the faster the time the more expensive the camera.
I like to set mine up over bait – typically I’ll put out something interesting (usually table scraps and leftovers) and I’ll spread it around a small area. This keeps whatever is interested hunting around for each tasty morsel, and therefore more likely to have a good picture taken. I then set up the camera within close range of the bait. You can test whether the camera will work in it’s location by turning it on and walking around the area with the bait – the camera will flash a red light when it is picking up a signal from your movement, and a small green light when the picture is actually taken. The images in this post are taken with a Wildgame camera -
For the price it’s been a great camera, and I’ve got some memorable shots with it. When combined with some enhancing software which you can do online for free at Picnik, you can get some pretty good pictures out of it. For these images, we had cooked two racks of baby back ribs over the fire, and as we were eating I was tossing the bones out into a small area of the woods in front of camp, and when we left in the morning I set up the camera overlooking them at ground level. That night this red fox appeared and stayed for almost 48 hours finding what I had thrown out there. In the second to last picture you can see him with one of them in his mouth. So, if you have a place where you’d like to know what’s visiting or what’s nearby that you can lure in, think about getting a trail cam – they’re a lot of fun.
Some amazing bobcat footage.
Standing on the boat launch at Jordan Pond and looking up the left shore there is a cove indented into the shoreline, still called Ice Cove to this day by the locals. Jordan Pond is located in Seal Harbor, and nestled within Acadia National Park. Jordan Pond has some interesting geology, largely formed during the Wisconsin Ice sheet about 14,000 years ago. Standing at The Jordan Pond House and looking out over the pond you can see the scouring effects the glacier had on the rounded profile of The Bubbles, and on South Bubble is the famous glacial erratic rock (Bubble Rock) that was left behind.
The Jordan Pond House is on a glacial moraine, comprised of till that was deposited by the melting glacier, and essentially creating a dam for the lake. In the years before refrigeration, ice was harvested from local ponds stored in ice houses, and delivered to townsfolk who used them in what was known as an ice box. An ice box was as simple as it sounds, a well insulated box where you stored your perishable food, along with a block of ice. You can see pictures and see more about ice boxes here. My Grandfather never stopped calling it an ice box, even after they had a modern refrigerator. In Seal Harbor, ice was harvested from ice cove, up until about the mid 1940’s. When you think about it, that really wasn’t that long ago. My parents remember the ice harvest on Jordan Pond, and you can see a video of it here.
While it may require a little bit of effort, living off the grid you can utilize the same simple technology that our forebears used to keep food cold. There are some very simple directions on how to build a basic ice house here. Properly insulated with straw and sawdust, ice can last the summer and even in to the following winter. If you’re willing to put in the effort, it can save you a lot on the utility bills and the cost of a refrigeration unit. Details on how to harvest ice can be seen in the video below. They are using mechanized equipment, for personal use I suspect with some diligent searching and old hand ice saw could probably be procured, especially here in Maine, and of course with a rip chain a chainsaw would do the work just fine.