Using Digital Devices in the Field

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Many of us use digital cameras to photograph our favorite hunting memories. What do we need to do to preserve those memories and fix problems with these devices in the field?

This came to my mind earlier today when going through some of my pictures and seeing a failed attempt at preserving one of my favorite memories. It all started one spring bear hunt on the Oregon coast in 2010. My first coastal bear hunt, what an exciting trip. My hunting partner and I worked very hard to spot a bear, but it seemed like we just couldn't do it. I did succeed in nearly getting mauled to death by a mountain lion, however.

As I sat next to a log on a hillside glassing a clearcut, I put my hood up to catch the cold spring rain drops. Through the spitting of the rain against my hood, I heard a very small noise coming from immediately behind me. When I turned, nearly face to face with me, sat a 110 pound female mountain lion. Sitting there in a perfect stillness, her eyes burned like fire into my soul. I will remember that sight for the rest of my days. You could see hunger on her face, in the way she sat, ready to pounce and bury her sharp teeth into my skull.

In one swift motion I stood and reached for my knife as I flung my boot towards the feline's face. It turned and dodged my attempt and walked steadily in a circle around me. I didn't dare to lower my head to reach for my rifle. I stood my ground enough to reationalize my plan of attack. I charged several steps towards the cat and shouted at the tops of my lungs. My rouse worked as the huntress turned in ambiguous defeat. She stepped behind a bush, and there she waited.

I regained my composure.

On the same road, after regrouping with my hunting partner (who carried a resident mountain lion permit) we came upon the cat. We marched at her and she walked at us. Side by side I stood with my partner as the clear sound of his rifle resonated across the clearcut. The cat kicked lightly and then was still immediately.

This story represents one of my fondest adventures in North America, and yet I was unable to preserve this memory to my liking. Because of batteries, nonetheless. A low battery caused me to lose the only picture we took of me with that cat. But we do have pictures of my hunting partner Paul with his trophy.

Because of this, before going on an excursion, I've found it increasingly important not only to carry extra batteries (which I'm sure almost all of us do), but to change out all of the batteries in my devices and not keep aging batteries in my pack. I had spare batteries, but, sophomorically, I asumed it would be okay. This lesson holds true for all of our devices, GPS units, cameras, rangefinders, electronic red dot scopes.

I was wrong. Let this be a lesson to all of us so we don't lose the memories we love the most.


arrowflipper's picture

what was the tip

Ok ndemiter, what was the tip?  Take fresh batteries or fresh underwear????  Wow!  I have never in all my years afield been that close to a big cat.  Let me repeat myself.... WOW!  There's no doubt in my mind that I would have been changing more than my batteries. 

But your tip is well taken.  How many times have we been taking pictures with our digital cameras and had the batteries go belly up?  And when they do, you are done.  That's why I always carry an extra set, and often two, in my pack.  Usually in the same bag as my camera.  I have been extremely glad I did on several occasions. 

I look at my camera as my memory keeper.  Pictures are my best way of recording what is going on during a hunt or outing.  I tell my hunting partners when they start complaining about how many pictures I'm taking of an animal, that you can never take too many pictures.  If I take 20 or 30, I'm happy with just a few that turn out good.  Well, lots of them turn out good; it's the ones that turn out "great" that I'm after.

And the same holds true with our other battery-eating devices.  I've carried my range finder up into the mountains only to find that my batter went dead.  And it's not always because we started out with bad batteries.  I have on several occasions accidentally turned my camera or radio or rangefinder on and didn't know it.  Then when I needed it..... sorry!  Great tip to take extra batteries along on every trip.

My son had an experience similar to yours years ago in Utah.  We were on an archery deer hunt and he sat down on a log to eat his lunch.  He noticed a freshly killed rabbit nearby and wondered about it.  As he was eating, he heard a slight noise behind him and turned to look a big bobcat right in the eye.  That cat wanted his meal and was not going to give it up to some whipper-snapper kid with a bow.  He began snarling and moving closer.  Kevin stood and shot at the cat and his arrow sliced through an ear.  The bobcat sat there flicking his ear and splashing blood around.  Kevin shot again and missed.  Finally the cat just sulked away. 

Thanks for the tip on taking things along for a fresh change......


groovy mike's picture

That is a good reminder Ndemiter - and WOW!

That is a good reminder Ndemiter. Your pictures show how heartbreakingly close you were to having a great picture of you and that cat. Before I talk about battery life I have to say – WOW! That was an amazing encounter you had with that cat. What did you do after you changed your pants? Yikes!        

As you noted, most of us have learned this lesson. Digital camera’s are great. They let a cheapskate like me take dozens of pictures and not worry about the cost of developing the ones that don’t turn out to be worth printing. But they DO require batteries to work. My camera’s have both a rechargeable and disposable battery compartment. I try to remember to not only charge the primary battery but also the disposable (which is used mainly for the flash) and to pack spares of both AND to pack the charger. We have all gotten used to the idea of periodically charging our cell phones, but we often have the option of doing it for our camera’s too. This is especially true at places like airports when we are en route to hunt in more remote areas. There is still a space in our packs for the old non-electric disposable cameras. When all else fails those archaic examples of pre-digital technology make a fall back option that provide photos when more modern technology fails.         

Just don’t be in the same situation as my brother in law who had hundreds of photos in his digital camera that was stolen at the airport on his way home after an African safari………………..ouch. Yeah, watch out for that too.

ManOfTheFall's picture

This a great tip. I think a

This a great tip. I think a very important factor is preserving the hunt with pictures or video. It is definitely a great tip to check your electronic devices and have spare batteries with you. Thanks for sharing.

hunter25's picture

This is a good tip to go

This is a good tip to go along with a great story. I have taken a lion myself and the pictures are one of the best things to have in reliving the adventure. I always change out the batteries in everything that need them at the beginning of the season and so far have not had any problems. I do keep some ectras in my truck or back at camp and at least some for my headlamp in pack as well. The only tough one is my camera as it needs charged and extra batteries of that type can be pretty expensive, Just don't forget to charge up before every season.

I also try to have an extra camera on hand just in case and if there are a couple of us I make sure everyone takes pictures as my son screwed up some good one by shaking too much. The more you take the better as you can throw away later the ones you don't need but can never get back the ones you never took at all.