Bud Utecht is the owner of Game Camera Artistry and co-owner of Buckhorn Camps.
How can one be lost when they’re right where they should be? For me that place is anywhere I can find woods, water, wildlife, and wilderness. Now maybe on some occasions I’ve been misplaced for a period of time, but for me it’s an adventure. I just know that over the next knoll or around that bend in the stream will be something I will be telling people about for years to come.
It’s probably obvious that I love wildlife. This is something that has been with me since I was a youngster growing up on a farm. I had the biggest backyard of all my friends. That’s the first place I went missing. Since then I’ve been slightly overdue from one end of the state to the other, all to be out in the wilderness as long as I can spare. From time to time it gets me in hot water, but those who know me understand that is where I need to be.
One thing about wildlife is you will never learn all there is to consume; I know because I’ve tried. I read everything I can find about our furry wild companions. I truly love how everything in nature is so perfectly put together. It’s interesting to me how one seemingly unrelated species can have such a significant impact on others, which adds to the intricate balance.
My life over the years has taken many turns and twists, from starting out in the Air Force to working in sales to now being a sporting camp owner. Well, I should say “assistant owner,” as I share this incredible place with my wonderful wife Katy. (Here’s my subtle plug for Buckhorn Camps in T4 Indian Purchase Maine). Through all the years the consistent piece has been the Maine woods. I’ve hunted, trapped, fished, and hiked all over this beautiful state.
I was like most people who got to enjoy these so called hobbies on weekends and vacations. And like most, this never seemed to be enough. Had anyone told me that my life would make the dramatic changes that it did, I certainly would have bet against it.
Game cameras provided the starting point for all that would come next. I purchased my first ones — you know the ones, with D cell batteries and white flash, cameras so bad we got into arguments trying to determine what the animal was. My family would send each other pictures, and we always looked forward to seeing what was in their woods until my brother sent me pictures of coyote puppies. Many of you aren’t particularly fond of coyotes, but I will tell you that those puppies were darn cute. Now this had not been a competition, but I didn’t have anything that created so much excitement. I needed to do better. I read, bought, placed trail cameras as much as I could. I was determined to get better pictures. I also wanted to get different types of wildlife, not just the antlered ones. Katy may have mentioned how much I was spending a few times.
Once I started getting the “Wow” pictures I told Katy my plan to make this game camera hobby into something more. The very next day she informed me that she set the wheels in motion. Suddenly I had a little more confidence and went after my guide’s license, something I always wanted to do. All that time in the woods was rewarding me. I even had a column in the Northwoods Sporting Journal.
I was placing cameras in many areas of the state, which was interesting because of the very different terrain we have and the fact that wildlife in one area doesn’t live in other areas. The diversity was so much fun to get. I had to learn different approaches for these places, which made it more interesting. Many things I discovered were unanticipated, which made for great learning. Many of my pictures have been of great interest to the state biologists, and no, I don’t have a photo of a mountain lion.
As I sit here in our lodge of Buckhorn Camps, writing and reflecting, I can’t help thinking about how life shapes us. My mother once told me to start working on a plan because longtime BDN outdoors writer Bud Leavitt would retire someday and I should be ready to be the next host of his TV show. Though life would take me on a very different path, here I am living an outdoorsman’s dream. And just maybe we will resurrect Bud Leavitt’s show, “Woods and Waters,” just to top things off. I guess if you get lost enough you might just find what you’re looking for.
Bud Utecht is teaming up with the BDN to host three virtual trail camera seminars in the coming weeks. The first will be held March 16 and will be a tech check and explain how to use your trail camera’s features for the best result. On March 17, Bud will focus on practical trail camera setups for a variety of uses. On March18, he’ll share some of his adventure stories and know-how, culled from years of experience. Each seminar starts at 7 p.m. You can reserve a spot in any of the events by clicking here.