Back in the day when your grandfather used to chase Mr. Big, hunting mature whitetails was a bit of an outdoors guessing game.
A game where a hunter quietly entered the woods and read the clues that were left behind by a big buck – deer that often seemed to be more ghostly apparition than hard antlered reality.
One by one, as the clues mounted and the guessing came continued, hunters would play a game of deer hunting chess, always trying to figure out the next move of checkmate against a local big buck monarch.
In years when it all came together and worked out, the result was a hard-earned buck to tag, a freezer full of venison and a hefty taxidermy bill that eventually came due.
But in those years when it didn't pan out, it was then time to hit the recipe book to find a palatable tag-soup dish, all the while trying to figure out how to keep another dry run from happening during the next deer season in the coming fall.
But that was then, this is now, a time when the use of high-tech trail cameras have become increasingly important as 21st century hunters continue to play the age-old game in trying to outwit a big, burly, wise-guy whitetail.
When properly utilized, such game cameras can help hunters decipher a new piece of hunting ground, fine tune treestand locations, figure out which bucks are killable during the legal hunting hours of daylight and to make a variety of sound management decisions.
The kind of management decisions that put a mature buck on the most-wanted list for the season while leaving a younger whitetail sidekick in the do-not-disturb category for at least another year.
While there are a number of cameras out there on the market today, the new Moultrie M-990i Gen 2 Game Camera, a 10-megapixel unit is among the best models that I've been able to use in my neck of the deer hunting woods.
With a shutter trigger speed of less than one second, an iNVISIBLE Nighttime Illumination Range of up to 70 feet (thanks to some 36 black LED's), and Motion Freeze Nighttime Blur Reduction technology, the M-990i Gen2 has the ability to capture up to 17,000 images.
All while utilizing only one set of eight AA batteries and a 32-gigabyte SD card, which can be used to capture images in either low, medium, high or enhanced image resolutions.
What's more, the camera captures either 640x480 VGA video or 1280x720 high-definition video with sound, advanced options that help a hunter figure out such things as what direction a buck is traveling to and from, the opportunity to figure out distinguishing characteristics between similar looking deer and the chance to get multiple views of a buck's body that help decipher a buck's age and maturity.
With a two-inch built-in color viewer that can be used in the M-990i's live aiming feature, the instructions from Moultrie were easy enough for me and my two boys to follow as we positioned the camera on top of a Moultrie Pro-Lock Feeder.
As a side note, the Moultrie Pro-Lock Feeder, a UV-resistant 30-gallon feeder assembly that takes only minutes to put together without the necessity of any tools, offers the perfect perch to put a game camera on in an effort to capture photos and video of unsuspecting bucks and does.
But I digress – back to the M-990i Gen2 and its surplus of high-end technology and features.
With backlit navigation buttons on the camera (for easy low light set-up), the M-990i offers a quick-start mode that is easy enough for just about anyone to master. Loosely translated, that means that if I can figure out how to use the game camera, then so can you.
As users get comfortable with all of the bells and whistles that the camera offers, the full range of options – including a “Managed Memory” feature that ensures that a hunter will never run out of memory card space again – can be put to use by way of the model's high-quality lens and image sensor.
Add in the simple multi-shot modes the unit offers, the option to imprint images with various types of data (time, date, temperature, barometric pressure, moon phase and camera name) and a power port to connect to an external power source and this unit is clearly one of the flagship models found in Moultrie's extensive line of cameras.
Will the camera tag the buck of your dreams for you? No, you'll still have to do some detective work and connect a few dots.
But in my mind, in a crowded playing field of high-tech camera options, the Moultrie M-990i Gen 2 camera stands at the top of the game, ready to turn the age old game of backwoods chess into a game that has an easier pathway to deer hunting victory.
And that's the sound of a freezer door shutting on a cavernous space filled with prime cuts of venison.
As the 21st century smartphone rings and the taxidermist delivers the Face-Time video chat news that you had better have a spot already picked out on the man cave wall for your latest whitetail hunting monarch.
If you want learn more about Moultrie products and see them in action, watch “The Hit List presented by Moultrie” on Outdoor Channel. Click here to learn more about the hosts, the show and for air dates and times.