Wildlife cameras have been proven to be a valuable scouting tool for hunters. Through the years, scores of trophy deer have been captured by game cams, and then by the camera’s owner.
But there is an aesthetic quality to a number of the images, and Whitetails Unlimited set out to capture the best images of 2011 in its WTU Trail Camera Contest.
"Trail cameras are great for hunters, but they also capture an amazing variety of images from nature,” WTU magazine editor Jeff Davis said. “This contest is great fun for us to judge, and by the number of entries submitted, it's obvious a lot of hunters are using trail cameras, and not just in the fall."
Whitetails Unlimited broke their readers’shots down into three categories, Best Buck, Best Antlerless and Best Non-Deer.
Check out the top trail cam images:
The Best Buck doesn’t necessarily have to possess the biggest rack – it wouldn’t hurt – but it’s the most interesting photo of a deer with visible antlers. The antlerless category is for does, fawns, bucks who had shed their antlers and groups of deer. The final category is a catch-all for great images of other species.
The Midwest had a strong showing as the top three winners from each category came from four states in the region. Missouri and Michigan both had three, there were two from Wisconsin and one from Nebraska.
"It's just one of those strange things," Davis said. "We had hundreds of entries, from all across the country, but the judging was based only on the images, and no one saw any other information until after the votes were counted.
“Last year we had three winners from Wisconsin, but the other six winners were from six different states, from Delaware to Kansas. In 2010 we had winners from seven states."
Davis was pleased to share the winners and their images.
Best Buck category: First place - Ben Cottrell, Columbia, Missouri; second place - Cal Winsor, St. Johns, Michigan; third place - Don Carlson, Shepherd, Michigan.
Best Antlerless category: First place - Terry Saylor, Sweet Springs, Missouri; second place - Andy Twyman, Higginsville, Missouri; third place - Tara Sporleder, Pierce, Nebraska.
Best Non-Deer category: First place - Joe Reilly, Stoughton, Wisconsin; second place - Charles Glombowski, Marysville, Michigan; third place - Evan Nelson, Waldo, Wisconsin.
Davis said that the WTU Trail Camera Contest will continue in 2012 and to watch the Whitetails Unlimited website for details.
Founded in 1982, Whitetails Unlimited is a national nonprofit conservation organization. Their mission is to raise funds in support of education, habitat enhancement and acquisition, and the preservation of the hunting tradition for the benefit of the whitetail deer and other wildlife.