A coyote negotiates the woods and crusty snow while trying to track down some carrion left out to lure wildlife in front of a trail camera. Credit: Pete Warner / BDN

I knew it was time for a change.

Trail cameras have captured some really cool stuff happening in the woods of Maine, and even in some people’s backyards.

Look no further than the incredible assortment of trail camera videos and photos we have published over the last three or four years.

People like Colin Chase, aka “The Maine Woodsbooger” on YouTube, and Allie Ladd have got wildlife trail camera placement down to a science. Ladd also often places some sort of roadkill near the camera that lures in lynx, fishers and even bald eagles and golden eagles.

That’s why I was inspired to join in on the fun. But all I owned was a cheap camera that was several years old. It produced marginal photos and quickly burned through six C batteries.

It wouldn’t work.

So with some Christmas gift cards in hand, I decided to bite the bullet and purchase a new trail camera. I chose one that features a cellular connection, which allows you to change the settings remotely at any time — provided you have a signal — and see photos on your cell phone just moments after they are taken.

One Registered Maine Guide said it’s because of those cameras that he doesn’t get any sleep during bear baiting season.

The impetus for me was to better understand when and where the deer are moving on a friend’s property in the hope of crossing paths with one next season.

Last fall provided a handful of fleeting sightings, but the lack of quality encounters — and a fairly limited number of signs — made me realize that I need to do some research.

The first thing I learned is that late December isn’t the optimal time to be experimenting with a trail camera, especially when you’re not sure what’s out there and where. For the first attempt I chose a location where I had seen signs of deer moving through.

Two weeks later, not having captured a single photo, I went off in search of a new spot. This time, after some fresh snow, I came upon four deer beds, some droppings and several sets of tracks.

I set up the camera, tested it and waited — for three weeks. And, truth be told, my patience likely would have been tested further had the landowner not stepped in to help.

The other day, I finally received a couple of midafternoon photos. There was my friend, walking past the camera location, some 20 yards away. I knew the camera had been prepared to do its job all along.

He had brought along some carrion from his farm and deposited it in an open area near the camera, although he didn’t know exactly where it was positioned. He was determined to stir the pot a bit.

The next day, during the afternoon, I was notified of two more images. They showed some crows, which had arrived to pick on the carcasses that had been left there.

It wasn’t until after dark that same day that I received my first exciting visual. In the photo, I was able to make out the glowing eyes and outline of a coyote that was clearly sniffing around for a snack.

After downloading the video, I got a nice look at the coyote, which moved cautiously and walked toward the right-hand side of the camera frame.

I had seen a large coyote track during deer season that would seem to fit this animal. From its appearance, and the way it was breaking through the crusty snow, it looked to be a good-sized ’yote.

So, even though my friend did a little “baiting” to make it happen, the move resulted in the camera getting its first wildlife images.

One important thing I realized in the process was the need to bump up my photo and video resolution settings to capture better quality images. Next time, even at night, things should be clearer.

I’m guessing the resident deer are holed up somewhere with good cover so they can avoid the snow and the coyote. I’m now considering finding such a spot on the property that might provide a glimpse of more wildlife.

I don’t have any delusions about getting multiple daily photos of wildlife during the snowy winter months, but there’s no doubt the critters are out there somewhere. I’m really looking forward to using the trail camera to do some remote scouting and hopefully provide some great visuals.

Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...